“Samsung is on the right track, thinking strategically with a 10-year horizon and if they stay on track they will have an impact in every financially important market segment,” said Atiq Raza, a serial entrepreneur with Khosla Ventures.
“Young Sohn is a great addition, and getting Shankar Chandran (the former general partner of Panorama Ventures) to head the $100 million seed fund was a great move by Sohn,” Raza added.
Samsung joins high-tech companies including chip vendors from Intel on down who have long maintained venture and seed funds to nurture their ecosystems and act as lighthouses for possible mergers.
“Our approach is longer term,” said Sohn. “We are very proud of being very patient and oriented on physics and materials because if you solve those issues you can have tremendous leadership long term.”
The new center has far fewer than 100 employees now, but is hiring with a special focus on technology fellows. It will launch later this year a $10 million SamsungCreate challenge, a broad contest open to everyone from engineers to artists and students from high school on up.
Sohn started his career at Intel, where he spent 10 years. He was co-president of hard-disk maker Quantum Corp. for six years and served as president of Agilent. Sohn also served as chief executive of Inphi Corp., a comms chip startup that received funding from Samsung and went public in 2010.
Separately, Samsung is ramping up another center in nearby Palo Alto, focused on media and content. The group will unveil its plans soon, Sohn said.