In February, it sold a portfolio of around 4,000 former Kodak patents to Dominion Harbor and revealed that it had significantly upped its rate of divestitures.

by: Richard Lloyd | June 2, 2017

Intellectual Ventures has made a number of changes to its senior management team following the departure of three of its members: chief operating officer Adriane Brown, general counsel David Kris and Russell Stein, executive vice president, corporate development and investment. Stein, who will be leaving later this year, was previously the chief financial officer before assuming his current role at the start of 2017.

A new structure will now see a team of executives reporting into co-founder and CEO Nathan Myhrvold with Brown’s former administrative duties spread among them. The new leadership team will comprise CFO Larry Froeber, chief people officer Nicole Grogan, new GC Janet Smith (previously chief counsel for corporate affairs), Cory Van Arsdale who moves from being senior VP for global licensing to chief revenue officer and Mathan Ganesan who is taking over as head of the Invention Investment Fund (IIF). Ganesan will move from the firm’s Dublin office to its Bellevue HQ. They will be joined in the senior leadership team by Maurizio Vecchione, head of the Global Good and Research team, and Casey Tegreene who leads the Invention Science Fund.

Brown will remain a senior adviser to the company while also fulfilling various commitments on other corporate and community boards. Kris will also remain involved on a part-time consultancy basis, but is due to move to a job in private practice in the national security space. Prior to joining IV he was the most senior national security adviser at the Department of Justice.

The shake-up comes amid a period of significant changes for the patent monetisation pioneer. In February, it sold a portfolio of around 4,000 former Kodak patents to Dominion Harbor and revealed that it had significantly upped its rate of divestitures. Then, in April, it announced that it was ceasing to buy more assets for its most recent fund, focusing instead on sales and ongoing licensing opportunities. That was highly significant news from an IP player that has dominated the buying market for the last 15 years.

In an interview with IAM, Van Arsdale commented that the changes were being driven by a number of factors. “For the individuals leaving it was something that they were ready to do, while for the business it’s about organising around the buying funds,” he said. On the monetisation side Van Arsdale and Ganesan will effectively be leading a new integrated IIF team, which will include staff that have previously been part of other groups such as legal. “With this new organisation I think we’re going to be far better set up to execute far more quickly — that’s the goal we have in mind,” Van Arsdale stated.

Van Arsdale also revealed that since IV announced that it was putting an end to its buying efforts and increasing its rate of divestitures, there has been more interest in the portfolio from potential licensees. “I think people are realising that we’re adapting to the market and, therefore, if they were on the sidelines they’re coming off the sidelines — a lot of them,” he explained. “The engagement rate can be hard to discern because deals can take one to two years, but to me the engagement rate has increased.”

Whether that results in a flood of new deals remains to be seen, but a growing degree of interest from licensees would make sense. As this blog has pointed out, a significant number of the assets that IV has sold recently have ended up being asserted in court. For any operating company that currently doesn’t have a licence to IV’s portfolio, those assets potentially pose far greater risk when they’re in the hands of several assertion entities. Even though it’s still probably the largest NPE in the market, IV was clearly struggling to fully monetise a stockpile of almost 40,000 assets.

As it continues to restructure its business and its approach to both monetisation and innovation, IV is beginning to look like a very different business than the one it was just a few years ago. In 2016, it spun off its Invention Development Fund, now known as Xinova, which looks to collaborate with partners on specific invention projects. It has also seen co-founder Peter Detkin take a step back from the day-to-day management of the business, although he remains involved.

Today IV is increasingly removed from its patent-buying peak, but even in a markedly different monetisation climate, it remains a very significant force.

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