One of the reasons that I love Anand Sanwal of CB Insights is that he doesn't pull any punches. CB Insights brings a rare combination of fact-based research and a willingness to take an unpopular position. While Anand doesn't have the facts to back up this opinion piece from his latest CB Insights newsletter, it does bring a healthy dose of skepticism to the current hot trend of corporates engaging in Silicon Valley outposts and setting up corporate accelerators.
As I talk about about in Collective Disruption, companies looking to engage with the startup ecosystem need to start with a clear objective and should be measuring their success by ventures and opportunities progressing into the market. Too many of these efforts are focused on the easy part of front end exploration, and too little on the important and very difficult work of incubating in market and integrating new business ventures back into the parent structure.
Here's Anand's newsletter post from Oct. 4, 2015: (link to original here)
Corporate accelerators — innovation scouting done wrong
(This will probably be unpopular)
When I see a big corporation launch a buzzwordy accelerator program, I hear the sound of money getting flushed down the toilet.
They launch these to get some buzz/look cool and, in theory, support and learn from startups. But here's the rub: if you're a giant, slow-moving company not known for being particularly innovative, the startups attracted to your accelerator are going to be 2nd or 3rd tier.
This is innovation theater.
That said, if you are focused on trying to "look innovative," here is the full list of tactics that we've previously detailed: