5 questions with Dan Deeney

If you want to know what’s going with the promise of 4G, the next generation of mobile broadband technology, the VC to talk with is Dan Deeney.

Deeney is partner and co-founder of New Venture Partners, which focuses on corporate technology spin outs.

The firm—which is based in Murray Hill, N.J., but also has offices in Silicon valley, Netherlands and the U.K.—last year struck up a partnership with Verizon to form a working group, the Verizon 4G Venture Forum, that would focus on bringing new wireless technologies into Verizon for potential deployment in its 4G network.

Alastair Goldfisher, managing editor of PE Week, caught up with Deeney to ask him a few general questions.

Q: What is the Venture 4G Venture Forum?


The focus of the Venture Forum is to expedite wireless innovation and get them to market quickly. To align the working group with Verizon’s objectives, we work with a few other venture capital firms, as well as Verizon’s infrastructure vendors, Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent. We meet quarterly to understand Verizon’s pain points, its networks, and what it wants from the venture community.

Basically, our goal is to fast track new technologies into Verizon’s 4G ecosystem.

Q: What kinds of startups are you seeing related to 4G technology?


: The major investment themes around Verizon and 4G networks are to increase network capacity and bandwidth for applications, services and devices for consumers and enterprises. Technologies that facilitate the transition from 3G to 4G networks are attractive, such as innovative backhaul systems and baseband processors.

We’re also interested in the mobile supply chain, mobile analytics, and security for 4G networks and devices. Enterprise software will become more interesting as non-standard devices become prevalent with 4G networks.

Q: In regard to wireless-related investments, what’s the outlook for liquidity?


At New Venture Partners, we’ve had several liquidity events in recent years related to our wireless investments. Celiant was acquired by Andrew Corp.; Flarion was acquired by Qualcomm; NextG was acquired by an investor consortium; SavaJe was acquired by Sun; Vallent was acquired by IBM; Sychip was acquired by Murata; Vidus was acquired by @Road.

In regards to our current wireless investments in our portfolio, we have iome, which delivers a location- and event-based social networking service, across Internet and mobile networks; and AirVersent, a provider of wireless software products for managing mobile workers in the mobile supply chain and logistics industries. Another interesting investment for the wireless community is SiliconHive, which creates tools that enable chip designers to make fully programmable system-on-chips.

The businesses are performing well, and we believe the outlook for these companies to exit is positive, but it will take time.

Q: What’s your outlook for VC investing, in general, in 2010?


Since our investment model focuses on spin-outs, we have a slightly different approach compared to traditional venture capital firms.

But our view on VC investing is generally consistent with the recent NVCA survey results. We’ll likely see a modest improvement in investing in 2010 and continued interest in cleantech and health care technologies.

Q: What is one thing most people would be surprised to know about your firm?


: New Venture Partners soon will have deals in six countries [United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Australia, Canada and India], and we’ve executed more than 50 spin-outs.