The Top 10: #7 Wanja Humanes, investment manager, Swisscom Ventures

Swisscom Ventures had initially appointed Wanja Humanes an analyst in 2014, and after his stints at the corporate’s Silicon Valley Outpost in Menlo Park and the corporate strategy department of Swisscom in 2015, he returned to the team as an investment manager.

Humanes focuses on telecoms and cloud infrastructure, enterprise software-as-a-service and cybersecurity investment opportunities. “As many of these companies originate in the US, I am also responsible for our US investment activities,” he said.

Dominique Mégret, head of Swisscom Ventures, the corporate venture capital (CVC) arm of the Switzerland-based telecommunications firm, added: “Wanja has been instrumental in developing Swisscom Ventures dealflow in German and English-speaking countries. He will move to our office in Palo Alto, California, to further develop Swisscom’s network in the US.”

Humanes explained he is interested in new technologies and the factors that make companies successful. “Working at a CVC always seemed like a great opportunity to build upon those interests while introducing an exciting, synergistic relationship to the equation: incumbent – market access – versus startup – technology or product,” he pointed out.

“I have been closely involved in about 15 investments during my time at Swisscom Ventures. I believe that my greatest success so far, however, was when I introduced a systematic, data-driven process for monitoring and proactively anticipating investment opportunities[, through both] process and tool.

“Doing so, we were able to successfully complete four new investments in the last 24 months alone, that we would otherwise have missed. In the end, I was able to refine our investment approach in a meaningful way and we are much more proactive now than before, which also positively impacted our perception in the market.”

Concerning why he joined a CVC, Humanes said: “I am deeply interested in new technologies and the factors that make companies successful. Working at a CVC always seemed like a great opportunity to build upon those interests while introducing an exciting, synergetic relationship to the equation: incumbent – market access – versus startup – technology and products. At the time, I perhaps underestimated how inspiring it would be to be able to work with brilliant entrepreneurs every day.

He added: “It can sometimes be rather difficult to align the agendas of our business units with our own portfolio strategy. NIH can be a strong factor when people feel like they are no longer in charge of their own decisions so personal relationships tend to be a critical factor.

“I would love to see our local ecosystem in Switzerland to fully come of age and make it onto the global venture capital landscape. As Switzerland’s most active investor we should play an important role in this. I want to gear all my energy towards making sure that we do not miss an opportunity and are able to provide the best possible returns to our investors.”

Humanes contributed to the spinning out of VirtualAds, a digital advertising technology developer whose business development activities he is still closely involved with. Before Swisscom Ventures, he had held a series of positions in the financial industry.