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New Specialist VC: The Blackberry Partners Fund

Blackberry partners fundThere’s no question the current and next generation of mobile phones, products like the iPhone and RIM’s newly minted Blackberry Bold, have grand ambitions to advance and change their industry.  There’s also no question cottage industries are popping up to thrive on their coattails.

Where there is developing industry, there are investors.   In March, with Apple’s support, venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (KPCB) pledged a sum of $100m for an investment initiative focus on forward thinking iPhone related software and services.  Now, Research in Motion is following suit with an investment focus of their own.

Monday, RIM announced the formation of a$150million fund to invest in services and applications for their rival Blackberry platform.  Canadian VC firms JLA Ventures and RBC Venture Partners are lending expertise to manage the fund. The fund will be called the Blackberry Partners Fund.

In an interesting twist, Canadian media powerhouse Thomson Reuters is also partnered in the deal.  Some have called this pairing odd but its strategy appears to be anything but.   The mobile news industry is projected to have rapid growth. Thomson has of wealth of content expertise, particularly financial news.  RIM has a core audience of business customers who are often rabid consumers of just that kind o information.   As a value added services the two make a natural match: content with distribution.

In soundbytes from press releases, all involved seem to share that sentiment:

Jim Balsille, Co-CEO RIM:  “The mobile world has evolved well beyond phone calls and simple message… RIM, RBC and Thomson Retuers share the common belief that mobile applications and services will propel the industry forward and the Blackberry Partners Fund is being formed to help fuel innovation and activity in the mobile ecosystem.”

•Devin Wenig, CEO Markets Division, Thomson Reuters: For customers, the deal is about “the ability to make business critical decisions with intelligent information.”

•John Albright, Managing Partner JLA Ventures: “Whether its access to corporate data or the latest craze in mobile entertainment, we want to fund companies that are forerunners in driving adoption and further enriching the mobile experience.”

A website has been set up for the new fund here.


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