Companies venture lightly into investments

Contact: Brenon Daly

A little more than a half-year after striking an initial partnership, Concur Technologies recently led the second round of a $4.6m funding for RideCharge, a startup that allows users to book and pay for taxis over mobile phones. John Torrey, Concur’s head of business development, told us the company, which provides an on-demand employee spending management offering, isn’t interested in being in the content business, so an acquisition wouldn’t have made sense. Concur, which holds some $210m in cash, has done three acquisitions but has been out of the market since mid-2007.

Concur’s investment comes despite a sharp tail-off in corporate VC in the years since the Bubble era. While several tech giants have continued to support their venture wings – including Intel, EMC and SAP, among others – most other companies have wound down their venture operations. And, based on our survey of corporate development officers late last year, they don’t expect to get back into the venture business. Some 36% said they planned to do fewer minority investments in 2009, compared to 22% who expect to do more investments this year.