Some days ago, Samsung NEXT has launched its $150M venture capital fund. In conjunction with the announcement, Brendon Kim*, the current Vice President and Managing Director of Samsung NEXT Ventures, answered our questions about the new fund, how it works, and shared with us his thoughts about what’s hot in tech today.
FinSMEs: Hi Brendon, Why have you set up Samsung NEXT Fund? What’s the target?
Brendon: The Samsung NEXT Fund targets compelling, early-stage (seed through Series B) startups that can leverage and transform the Samsung ecosystem. We want to bring the power of the Samsung platform to startups to accelerate their success and generate outsized financial returns. By being great partners to startups, we hope to gain access to innovative ideas and world-class talent.
FinSMEs: Can you explain to us the investment strategy of the new fund (in terms of duration/stage/sector/geo/amount of operation, etc.)?
Brendon: We focus on early stage (seed, Series A and B), when startups are innovating technology and business models. For the earliest seed-stage companies, in addition to funding, we can provide co-location, functional expertise and mentors. Given the wide scope of Samsung’s businesses, we have the opportunity to add value in many sectors, but we are particularly focused on AI, AR and VR, security, digital health, mobility and IoT. We can invest globally, and our typical investments range up to $3M.
FinSMEs: How many people/offices are involved?
Brendon: We have five offices across two continents (New York, Tel Aviv, Korea, Silicon Valley, San Francisco)
FinSMEs: The fund has already made some investments. How many startups do you want to invest in?
Brendon: We don’t have a set target for investments, but I can say that we’ve made 45 investments over the last four years, so that’s roughly a one a month pace. 38 of those investments were done out of a previous fund. Seven have been made out of the new Samsung NEXT Fund.
FinSMEs: Personally, what do you see particularly hot in the tech world?
Brendon: AI. All the major tech players are investing heavily in this space. AI is certainly not a new concept, but market demand, technology and infrastructure improvements are all making big advancements in the field possible. AI picked up a lot of steam last year and I expect AI to stay hot for a while.
FinSMEs: Currently, a public discussion is open about AI and robotics. Will thy change our world and the way we work? Do they represent a threat of on opportunity?
Brendon: AI will absolutely change the way we work and the way we navigate the world. It will permeate all of the software and services we use. AI will create more personalized experiences and deeper connections with the people and things around us. It will also help us work more efficiently and effectively.
* Brendon Kim has been investing in early stage startup companies for over 20 years, Prior to joining Samsung, Brendon was a co-founding general partner of Altos Ventures. He started his career as a strategy and management consultant in the media, consumer and technology industries.
Brendon received his MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and his BA from Princeton University.