Corporate VC totals slump

Big tech companies continue to spend money on acquisitions as evidenced by Microsoft’s $1.2 billion purchase of Yammer and Facebook’s recent buys of Instagram and Face.com. But what about corporate venture capital — when the tech juggernauts sink smaller investments in companies with hopes of future payoffs?

A new report out from CB Insights suggests that corporate venture capital is actually experiencing a dip. (Maybe they’d just rather buy companies outright, rather than mess with smaller equity stakes?).

“Based on their deal and financing activity, corporate venture capitalists are making bets but at a very measured pace,” according to the report. CB Insights tracked 84 deals totaling $1.09 billion during the first quarter, down from the fourth quarter when 98 deals totaling $1.37 billion were recorded.

Corporate VCs — through venture arms such as Intel Capital or Google Ventures —  invested $5.5 million more per deal than the average VC deal in the first quarter. That’s not a huge surprise given that corporations typically don’t bet on raw ideas, and would prefer to see a company that has a bit more traction in the market.

Now, it is worth noting that Microsoft doesn’t have a venture capital arm and rarely takes equity interests in companies, a strategy that employed by Amazon.com. (Though Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has been actively investing his own money through Bezos Expeditions).

Interestingly, I’ve actually seen a fair number of what I’d term corporate investments in startups in the Seattle area. Those include this week’s investment by Catholic Health Initiatives — one of the country’s largest faith-based hospital operators — in Seattle’s Carena and Premera Blue Cross’ bankrolling of health rewards program EveryMove.

Meanwhile, outside of the health care realm online storage startup Symform and video game upstart U4iA also have pulled in money from undisclosed strategic investors in recents weeks.

Money photo in teaser via Andrew Magill.