Telefónica sets up tech ventures unit to fund cybersecurity start-ups
Telefónica has combined its cybersecurity and other investments into a single entity, Telefónica Tech Ventures, and says it is looking for new ideas to fund with up to €6 million.
Telefónica Tech Ventures includes ElevenPaths, Telefónica’s cybersecurity company, and its corporate venture capital arm. It is already funding nine start-ups and has plans for up to 15 more in the next three years.
Chema Alonso (pictured), chief digital consumer officer at Telefónica and the chairman of ElevenPaths, said: “It will be an opportunity for them not only to have Telefónica as an investor but also to turn us into a customer or even a business partner, thus providing them with the chance to develop their projects around the world.”
Guenia Gawendo, director of Telefónica Innovation Ventures, said: “This new vehicle is not only a new opportunity for the start-ups to develop their business with Telefónica, it’s also a chance for other investors seeking to rely on the expertise and leadership of ElevenPaths in cybersecurity and Telefónica Innovation Ventures in the field of venture capital and co-invest with us in a sector that’s attracting a high degree of investment interest.”
The purpose of Telefónica Tech Ventures is “to detect disruptive innovation in cybersecurity, particularly in the areas of threat intelligence, cloud security, data protection and artificial intelligence applied to cybersecurity”, said the company.
Telefónica said that the new arm “will be open to other investors that wish to co-invest … and rely on its far-reaching experience in the dynamic cybersecurity sector”.
The company believes that the cybersecurity sector will “attract more than US$8 billion in investment around the world this year”.
The project includes Wayra, Telefónica’s global open innovation hub. The company said it also intends to invest in up to 15 startups over the next three years – both early-stage and more mature ones – “entering into series A, B and C and devoting the necessary resources to execute follow-ons in the best-performing start-ups”.
Telefónica will focus on opportunities in Spain, Brazil, Germany and the UK as well as “other significant technological markets” such as the US and Israel.
Alonso said: “Since we created ElevenPaths eight years ago we’ve remained close to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the hacking community and this new vehicle will enable us to get even closer.”
Pedro Pablo Pérez, CEO of ElevenPaths, added: “The cybersecurity sector is a constantly changing world in which new and more sophisticated threats are appearing every day, requiring a great deal of innovation to combat them. This vehicle will enable us to detect new opportunities for cooperation with disruptive startups at an early stage and add their capabilities to ElevenPaths’ innovative skills, allowing us to continue to offer our customers ground-breaking products and services.”