The State of Corporate Venture Capital in 2023

An interview with Christina Riboldi of Global Corporate Venturing

David Horowitz
Risky Business
Published in
7 min readMar 7


Image: Shutterstock

I recently sat down with Christina Riboldi, the Event Director for the Global Corporate Venturing Summit, to discuss corporate venture capital and the state of corporate innovation. Christina previously interviewed me after the 2018 Corporate Venturing Summit in Monterey, the largest gathering of corporate venture capital and innovation professionals.

In our latest discussion, Christina and I covered how to sell a corporate venture program to the c-suite, whether corporate venture capital can withstand the current economic turbulence, how Touchdown has grown in the last five years, and more.

Christina: It’s been five years since I last interviewed you and Touchdown has had so much growth — both in the corporate VC programs you manage and with your team! Congrats! Tell me more about what’s transpired over the past 5 years and the last year in particular.

David: Thanks, Christina. That means a lot coming from you, especially given the role Global Corporate Venturing plays as an authority on the corporate venture capital industry. When you interviewed me back in 2018, you highlighted GCV’s research that Touchdown had started and managed more CVC units than anyone. In the last five years, we’ve added many new CVC relationships. Today we manage over 20 corporate venture programs and have grown the firm to more than 50 team members — and we are currently looking to fill multiple open roles. The majority of the corporations that work with Touchdown plan to deploy between $50–150M of capital over a typical 10-year investment and harvest period. The combined target capital for all these corporate venture funds is now in excess of $1 billion. Many of the companies that have been working with Touchdown for several years are also looking at successor funds, like Allegion, which formally announced a $100 million “Fund II” last year.

Last year was also Touchdown’s best ever for new CVC starts; we helped launch five new corporate venture capital funds including AmerisourceBergen, Cooperative Ventures, Erie Insurance, INX, and Olympus. Cooperative Ventures is notable because two agricultural cooperatives — CHS and Growmark — came together to start a corporate venture fund. This was the first time Touchdown has managed a fund with more than one corporate backer. Three of these new funds are with Fortune 500 corporations, two of them are in the top 100, and one of them is in the top 10 largest companies in the United States.

Christina: From your perspective, which industries are benefiting the most from having CVC programs?

David: Our thesis when we started Touchdown was that every industry will embrace corporate venture capital, resulting in an opportunity for a new kind of firm to manage those new corporate venture funds professionally, which is what Touchdown does. That thesis has basically proven correct, and I think that’s why Touchdown has grown so much over the past five years. As you know, CVC really started with tech-native companies like Intel and Cisco, expanding in the 2000s in industries such as media and entertainment, automotive, and healthcare. Today, there are corporations in every sector of the economy participating in corporate venture. We believe CVC has indeed become mainstream and that it’s here to stay. Touchdown has added enough new CVC funds to organize by industry practices in consumer and agriculture, healthcare (including pharmaceuticals and medical devices), built world, industrial, and IT & media. Our IT practice also includes our first financial services focused fund. Since there is innovation and start-up disruption happening in every sector, in my opinion every industry could benefit from launching a CVC program. I can’t think of a single sector of GDP that doesn’t have at least one corporate with an active CVC program right now, can you?

Christina: Agreed. Touchdown is clearly seasoned in speaking with c-suites about the value prop of CVC. During these discussions, what do you think gets the CEO over the line?

David: For starters, you have to talk to the CEO! Find out what he or she cares about and where the board wants to take the business. I’m always amazed at some of the new CVC launches I’ve heard about where the CEO is out of the loop. That doesn’t necessarily mean the CEO needs to be on the investment committee — but the first step is to ensure that the CVC strategy and tactics are aligned to the overall direction and strategic goals of the parent company. In our experience, the CEO cares a lot about the strategic benefits of these programs, getting access to entrepreneurs and external innovators, and we hear expressions like “seeing around corners” that show value is placed on the insights that come from CVC activities. We also know that CEOs want to understand that the investment fund performance will be good and the fund will generate a positive return. So it’s both strategic and financial performance that ultimately wins over the CEO.

Christina: Ok, let me play devil’s advocate: are the financial returns really that important compared to the strategic benefits? Financial returns typically take longer to deliver, right?

David: You’re right, the financial returns do take a long time, but I believe they are just as important as the strategic benefits. You can’t sacrifice one at the altar of the other. While most innovation activities are challenging to measure, it’s easy to tell whether the investments make money. You know exactly how much capital you put to work in start-up investments and you can easily measure the financial return on those investments. If the program is managed properly, the CVC can be a profit center and all of the “strategic” benefits can be paid from the program’s profits, including those trends and insights, new commercial relationships, launching new businesses, building an M&A pipeline, and so on. Some CEOs will tell me, “David, it is ok for you to lose money if it generates strategic benefits.” My answer to that has always been “no, it is not ok for Touchdown to lose your money and we really believe in the notion of we are going to do both. We are going to strive to generate a strong venture return on investment on the portfolio and we are going to do our best to deliver material strategic impact for your corporation.” So the goal is that the program should make money on the investments and be self-sustaining, and all these strategic benefits are free in the long run, but only if you have good VCs making good investments. That means you really need to ensure you have good VCs at the helm, because it’s a risky asset class and the money takes a while to come back, as you note.

Christina: Finally, because we have known each other since Touchdown’s inception in 2014, I know you timed the market really well. However, we are about to go into some really tough times. What is your crystal ball forecast for corporates, and should they stay the course in CVC?

David: I believe we are already in tough times with how the broader market performed in 2022. The good news for most CVCs is that the data suggests that corporations are not running for the hills. The venture capital survey data we’ve seen suggests that corporate venture investment actually increased slightly in 2022 as a percentage of total capital and total deals. So far we’re seeing CVCs stay the course and keeping pace with peers in traditional venture capital.

I think it’s inevitable that there will be some corporations that pull back if their core business is challenged. But I believe that will be a small number of corporations and will not likely be a mass exodus. We are hearing about “pauses” and not quitting, even for those corporations who have hit a rough patch. Despite the market correction last year, we still saw more than 100 new corporate venture capital funds started. I believe corporate venture will continue to grow, even if we enter a protracted economic downturn.

The CVCs most at risk will be those that cannot show any financial or strategic impact from their CVC program. My best advice to CVC fund managers is to clarify how you’re measuring strategic value, and go drive financial performance and deliver returns on your investments.

This article originally appeared on Global Corporate Venturing.

Liked what you read? Click 👏 to help others find this article.

David Horowitz is a Co-Founder and the CEO of Touchdown Ventures, a firm that provides “Venture Capital as a Service” to help corporations launch and manage their investment programs.

Unless otherwise indicated, commentary on this site reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints and analyses of the author and should not be regarded as a description of services provided by Touchdown or its affiliates. The opinions expressed here are for general informational purposes only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual on any security or advisory service. It is only intended to provide education about the financial industry. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. While all information presented, including from independent sources, is believed to be accurate, we make no representation or warranty as to accuracy or completeness. We reserve the right to change any part of these materials without notice and assume no obligation to provide updates. Nothing on this site constitutes investment advice, performance data or a recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Investing involves the risk of loss of some or all of an investment. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.



David Horowitz
Risky Business

Founder & CEO at Touchdown Ventures (manager of corporate venture capital funds)