John Lindgren, formerly the head of Conversant, has been appointed CEO of monetisation business IPVALUE as the company’s private equity owner, Vector Capital, looks to significantly ramp up its investment in the IP space. Lindgren has replaced Murali Dharan who had been at IPVALUE since 2002 and CEO for the last ten years. He will remain involved in the business as a member of the board of directors.
Vector Capital acquired IPVALUE in 2014 as its investment vehicle in the IP space. Last year it acquired Longitude Licensing, the monetisation platform formed in 2013 with a portfolio of semiconductor patents previously owned by Elpida, and entered into a partnership with Cypress Semiconductor. The company looks to both acquire its own assets to monetise as well as advising other, large patent owners on their monetisation strategies.
According to Vector Capital Managing Director Rob Amen, when it bought IPVALUE Vector had over $100 million to build the company into a bigger business through acquisitions and attracting new large patent owning clients. A significant majority of that capital, Amen said, was still in place for new investments and it was felt that new leadership would give IPVALUE “access to new partners and an additional group of large patent holders”.
“If you look back at 2016 we were successful in acquiring Longitude and we were successful in partnering with Cypress Semiconductor and those are emblematic of the types of deals we want to do but we just want do more of them and we do not see competition in the market right now for intellectual property,” Amen commented.
While a big chunk of the original capital from Vector is still available, Amen stressed that it was not just limited to $100 million. “We really believe in backing our winning platforms at Vector,” he said. “The easiest thing to do is put more money behind your successful platforms, that’s far easier and often more successful than finding new investment opportunities.”
For Lindgren, the new role gives him another significant monetisation platform to head after several years leading Conversant. He stood down from that role at the end of last year after speculation had mounted in the market that, like many NPEs, it was struggling to monetise its assets. Lindgren brings with him a deep knowledge of the semiconductor space and the Longitude portfolio in particular having advised that business on monetisation opportunities while he was at Conversant.
One of the attractions of appointing Lindgren, Amen said, was the strength of his network in the IP space and the number of opportunities that he sees. “It surprised me,” the Vector managing director admitted. “We’re a very successful platform and he had knowledge and access to deals and partners that weren’t even on our radar.”
Perhaps just as significant as Lindgren’s appointment was Amen’s bullishness on the IP space, which he described as “fantastic right now”. “We’re seeing a tremendous amount of opportunities in the market right now with a lot of companies similar to IPVALUE disappearing from the market or declining in value,” Amen commented. “The market opportunity was right in front of us and we all felt as a board that new talent would enable us to accelerate that mission. We really think the market opportunity will enable us to double or triple IPVALUE from here.”
Future deals look set to involve more than just US assets which form the overwhelming majority of IPVALUE’s portfolio. According to Lindgren that stockpile includes around 5000 US assets with some foreign counterparts but the proportion of European and Asian grants looks set to increase under his leadership.
As he looks to aggressively grow IPVALUE Lindgren said he was agnostic about the source of potential assets but added: “Our preference is to do larger transactions with truly innovative companies like we’ve done in the past year with Cypress and with the Elpida portfolio. Those types of original patent owners just have vast reserves of untapped resources that we have the ability to sort through, find the crown jewels and structure a deal that works for both of us.” With Vector’s very deep pockets he certainly won’t be lacking capital.