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Clearwire investment represents new strategy for Intel

Clearwire investment represents new strategy for Intel

Intel Capital's investment in Clearwire appears to be the start of a new strategy at the company of making larger investments.

Intel Capital's US$600 million investment in Clearwire appears to be part of a new strategy at the investment group, according to recent comments made by its managing director.

While Intel Capital typically invests US$2 million to US$4 million at a time, it recently decided to change its strategy and begin making larger investments, Shlomo Caine, Intel Capital's managing director, said while attending the opening of Intel's new facility in Dublin in late June. Intel Capital is the investment arm of Intel.

At the time, he said that Intel Capital's largest investments had been US$300 million to US$400 million and the smallest in the tens of thousands of dollars.

The size of Intel Capital's US$600 million investment in broadband wireless service provider Clearwire, announced on Wednesday, indicates that the investor is beginning to execute on its new strategy.

In addition to increasing the dollar amount of investments, Intel Capital plans to make investments on its own. Historically it would rarely lead deals or invest independently, Caine said. Intel Capital also plans to make more investments then it has, he said.

Intel Capital has invested a total of US$4 billion in over 1,000 companies that are based in over 30 countries. In 2005, 60 percent of Intel Capital's investments were made in companies outside of the U.S.

Intel Capital invests in companies based on their potential impact on Intel's core business. One area of focus for Intel Capital has been on WiMax companies, like Clearwire. Clearwire currently offers broadband wireless services in the U.S., Ireland, Denmark, Belgium and Mexico.

Most of Intel Capital's WiMax investments have been in operators and the company has a goal of seeing 50 of the largest urban centers in over 10 European countries covered by WiMax, Caine said. He didn't specify a time frame for reaching that goal but said that Intel expects a significant uptake of WiMax services throughout Europe by the end of 2007 or early 2008.

Intel spearheaded the development of the WiMax standard and hopes that in the near future computer makers will build Intel WiMax chips into laptops.

Caine said that Intel Capital is the largest venture capital organization in the world and has access to "unlimited funds" for making investments.


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