As we continued our conversation (Part I is here), Hopkins talks about Citi Ventures investment approach, overcoming institutional gravity, and why a willingness to be wrong is crucial in an innovation practice.
Can you give me an investment that you’ve made that you’re excited about?
One that I get quite excited about is Ayasdi, because it was the idea of using topological technology to create a picture of patterns. We are all being inundated by massive amounts of data. How do we use technology to see things that we wouldn’t have thought of looking for? Ayasdi does that, and it’s quite fascinating.
When you made that investment, did you then do a proof of concept inside Citi?
Deborah Hopkins has operated at the highest levels of corporate America for decades, holding senior roles at GM, Lucent, and Boeing, where she served as CFO. She is now Chief Innovation Officer of Citi and founder and CEO of Citi Ventures, a five-year old firm that has a unique approach to investing and an equally unique role in helping its 200-year-old parent company learn how to innovate in today’s startup-drenched landscape.
Many corporate venture firms maintain an arms-length distance from corporate headquarters, but not Citi Ventures. Not only does it focus its investments on startups that add value to Citi’s core business, but it is also responsible for driving new business practices into the company, through a network of growth boards, innovation labs, and the soft power of deep relationships nurtured over decades.