Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ocean Tomo - Blueprint

So I have been buried lately - in a good way - and the blog has taken a hit. But I am back today with exciting industry news.

From two months ago. Oh well.

In February this year, Ocean Tomo partnered with high tech VC firm Blueprint Ventures to spin-out companies based on "dormant" corporate IP. It looks like these off-shoots will include IP, know-how and possibly involve individuals originally associated with the technology.

I love this idea.

Last year I wrote about how Intellectual Ventures (IV) could spin out dozens of companies with all of the IP it is acquiring. The OT Blueprint model, where they provide a straightforward conduit - with larger upside - for corporations to monetize areas where they are likely no longer focused, is brilliant.

Obviously the issues of having a "corporate" researcher becoming essentially a start-up founder are non-trivial, and the dull nuance of IP agreements can make them excruciatingly difficult to close. However, once an organization begins to see returns on spin-outs being greater than outright sale or in-house IP licensing efforts, then deep analysis of corporate IP portfolios may become less the exception and more the rule.

In 1998 I was a strategy analyst for WorldSpace Corporation, a hot $2.5 billion start-up(!) in Washington, DC, whose goal was to produce digital satellite radio worldwide. They had some issues in being able to offer service in the US, but assets which could potentially serve the market. I assisted in an investment and spin-off strategy which enabled another new company to serve the US market.

That other company became XM Satellite Radio.

It will be very interesting to watch the OT-Blueprint partnership.

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