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Why Sky’s aim is strategic, not monetary when investing

Peter Stojanovic

Why Sky's strategic position on investment is all about innovating their own services rather than making money.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

That’s the thinking behind larger companies’ new investments, partnerships and takeovers of nimble startups. BSkyB is no different.

The British telecoms company, like others on its level, has started to realise that its own R&D teams just can’t match the pace of innovation anymore, hence the Sky investment strategy.

Sky has invested in virtual reality business Jaunt, Whistle Sports, a sports-focused multi-channel network and online video aggregator Pluto.TV to name a few.

Earlier this year, Sky added an extra $5.3 million into 1Mainsteam, the California-based startup to establish a new division focused on developing product concepts.

In this video interview at the Hot Topics London event, Emma Lloyd, Corporate Development Director, discusses the Sky investment strategy and why it’s not necessarily just about making money.

“We are very much at the strategic end of investment – there is no defined venture arm – we invest off our balance sheet and we are not investing for financial returns, that’s just a by-product.”

Obviously a good financial return would be beneficial but the reason the focus isn’t entirely commercial is because these investments will hopefully improve the services and products of Sky directly.

“The majority of the value that we’re looking to derive for Sky is we invest strategically and integrate that with parts of sky that use [the technology].”

That’s not to say though that they don’t have long term visions – and imagination.

“Part of our remit is blue sky, we look for things that could deliver material growth to Sky in adjacent areas. Connected home and the internet of things for example isn’t one of our business areas right now but you could imagine why it could be in the future…”

In essence the Sky investment strategy is about tracking startups to help the understand how their market is evolving and for the chance to become directly involved within those innovations.