If you can't beat them, fund them.
Splunk, a data analytics company based in San Francisco, has caught Silicon Valley's fear of missing out, so on Wednesday the company announced its own $150 million corporate venture fund called Splunk Ventures.
Splunk Ventures will oversee two separate funds: the $100 million Innovation Fund will fund early-stage tech companies that could benefit from Splunk's massive customer base and data stores. The fund's first investment also announced Wednesday was an undisclosed amount in cloud security applications startup Kavach.
There is also a $50 million Social Impact Fund explicitly dedicated to funding nonprofits that also benefit from data analytics.
"We want to focus on accelerating the data ecosystem that we play in to unlock more value," Susan St. Ledger, president of Splunk's worldwide field operations, told Business Insider. "We felt strongly that it wasn't just around technology companies but also anyone that uses data for social impact."
Splunk is the most recent tech company to jump on the corporate venture bandwagon. Large tech companies, like Intel and Cisco, have for years operated in-house venture funds dedicated to investing in promising startups and technologies. Often, these corporate VC arms served as mergers-and-acquisitions pipelines for the parent company. In the last six months, public and private tech companies like Slack, Crowdstrike, and Airbnb have created corporate venture funds to invest in "the ecosystem."
But Splunk has set a more altruistic standard with its dedicated $50 million Social Impact Fund. The company has worked on social good initiatives and provided grants for years, but this is the first time it will use dedicated funds to back organizations like nonprofits that are usually left on the back burner in favor of more lucrative investments.
"We have to make sure we are investing in both sides of the equation," St. Ledger said. "We don't want to lose sight of the social impact side of things."
St. Ledger said that Splunk Ventures will operate within Splunk's larger organization under the mergers and acquisitions team. Given the founder-unfriendly power dynamics historically associated with corporate venture capital, St. Ledger acknowledged that the Splunk Ventures team will have to work hard to convince entrepreneurs to accept funding from the new fund.
"Very often that is what corporate venture is used for, but the truth of the matter is that's not our intent going into it," St. Ledger said of whether or not the fund would be used to help the company source acquisition targets. "It's really about accelerating the data ecosystem and partnering with the portfolio companies."