Dominique Mégret started Swisscom Ventures in 2005 and has been pivotal in the creation of a global network of information and communication technology corporate venturers. This network is likely to be an important part of his plans to raise an external fund co-investing alongside its Swisscom Ventures III fund.
He joined Swisscom, a Switzerland-based telecoms group, in 2002 as head of the group strategy department and led the creation of the corporate venturing unit.
Swisscom Ventures has gone through a number of iterations over its first decade to develop into an evergreen model – where returns from deals are reinvested in new portfolio companies – with an early-stage fund. It has been a successful path with a highlight being the flotation on the Nasdaq stock exchange of Quantenna, a high-speed wifi chip maker.
For last year’s Powerlist award, Mégret said Quantenna’s $107m initial public offering in October 2016 was a “happy end of a CVC process with both strategic and financial value creation”. He added: “Swisscom was Quantenna’s first customer, then helped to bring other telecoms customers and investors in to scale up to IPO.”
And Megrét has been quick to support his colleagues, nominating Paer Lange, who had been on the board of Quantenna, to GCV Rising Stars 2018 awards, Megrét said: “He had a series of positive exits recently with Lemoptix, sold to Intel [in 2015], Simplivity, sold to HP [at the start of 2017 for $650m], Vilant Systems, sold to Turck [in October], Beqom, secondary sale to Goldman Sachs [as part of a $35m round in July] and is currently in the M&A process for another trade sale.”
Other sales of companies where Lange had had a board role include mobile recording company Cognia, which was sold in August to Smarsh.
Finding the right mix of financial and strategic returns will be important with its co-investment fund alongside the third fund. In an interview with GCV, Mégret said: “This act of balancing is more an art than a science. This is why we have diversified our investment into more than 40 different companies over the past 10 years, to find out which space we feel most comfortable with, both from a strategic and financial perspective, and to reduce risk.
“We are the corporate venturing unit of Swisscom group, which is a telecoms and IT company based in Switzerland, so strategic impact is what we ultimately aim to achieve, on top of good financial results.
“We invest in core telecoms and IT services, in technology that will emerge in that space and transform our business within the next three years. We also invest in technologies that manage customers and improve customer experience. Then we try to discover new areas of growth which will emerge within the next three to five years for Swisscom.
“That is why we have been taking some bets in areas which seem, at this point, remote but are getting closer to the core business of Swisscom, such as e-health, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, wearables and even fintech.
“So, overall about half our investments are important new technologies bringing efficiencies to our industry, while the other half consists of technologies that will or may become important to us, thus giving us differentiation in the broad customer management and experience field.”
Previously, Mégret was an entrepreneur in the UK, strategy consultant in the European telecoms industry and country manager for an IT company in Germany. He co-founded venture firm Kick-Start Ventures and has an MBA from Insead.