The rest of the 100 (in alphabetical order): Laurel Buckner, ATN Ventures
Laurel Buckner, formerly vice-president of corporate venture investments and mergers and acquisitions at US-based telecoms operator GCI Communications, was hired by peer ATN International earlier in October.
As senior vice-president at ATN, Buckner is now managing director of its new corporate venturing unit, ATN Ventures, and is helping it expands its frontiers. For the GCV 2018 outlook survey, she said: “We will continue to see investment in AI [artificial intelligence] grow, but now it will be in even more bespoke solutions for verticals. There will be more investment in this area. The tough decision for investors will be what exactly is the value of AI in this instance and how is this AI company or technology doing something different from others. The trick is, as always, separating the wheat from the chaff.”
ATN operates telecoms services in remote areas of the US and Caribbean as well as solar energy units for municipalities in the US and India. Buckner said ATN Ventures would be looking for deals in these areas, particular around software and renewable energy storage.
Buckner had previously set up the corporate venture department group at GCI, Alaska’s largest telecoms provider, at the beginning of 2014. Her move from GCI followed its acquisition by Liberty Interactive for $1.1bn earlier this year.
Before that she was in M&A at Dell and had come to Dell actually through an acquisition. “Before Dell, I was the general counsel and corporate secretary of a company in San Jose called SonicWall, an IT security company. Before that I was with a large law firm in Seattle called Davis Wright Tremaine.
“So I, traditionally or historically, was a corporate lawyer and tax lawyer. That is where I started my career,” Buckner told Andrew Gaule in an interview for GCV in 2016.
She added her background into CVC was unusual: “When I left the law firm I was not very interested in technology, so I thought the best way to get close to technology as a lawyer would be to be a lawyer in a startup. And that is absolutely true. I learnt so much about the way that startups work. How do you build a product? How do you work with engineers? How do you go to market? How do you deal with investors? How do you raise the money? And then eventually, how do you sell that company? Which is what we did. And then I just happened to do that three more times and stay with the acquirer.”
For someone who loves to ski as much as Buckner, her route down the CVC career slopes has been impressive.