I never imagined homonyms could be a thing…until I moved to San Francisco in 2001.

Searching why my name was already taken on Hotmail, made me realize not only another Marco Marinucci existed, but, indeed, he was living in San Francisco. Sure enough, he became one of my first aquantances.

Fast forward a few years, in the early Facebook era, and here I get another message from another Marco Marinucci, this one from Germany and still at business school… until, several years later, he decides to move to San Francisco. And now, it’s 3 of us. At least, as far as I know!

This Marco now leads Hella Ventures, the CVC arm of Hella, the 100+ yrs old German company made famous by its iconic lights for sport cars.

Selling to, basically, all OEMS in the world, Hella has now become leader in lidar and radar technology (key components in self driving cars) among other things.

With that footprint, Marco (raised in the HQ city of Hella, and working there even before he could call it a job) definitely has a pulse of the full value chain in the automotive industry and its international repercussions.

In particular during these unprecedented times, his outlook at the (negative) effects of the economic recession to its industry shows still a gleam of hope.

While all the automotive production lines are standing at the moment around the globe (only China has just started a timid re-opening), Marco still considers the position of the big German car manufacturers, much stronger of what it was a decade ago. And, while uncertainty is definitely bad news for the automotive industry, there are still chances that the industry will still make it through the dark tunnel undeterred (after all, car ownership these days looks safer than carsharing, indeed…)

Lastly, worth highlighting some insights of Hella’s 5yr old CVC and secret of their success:

  • full buy-in by “the property” (the CVC reports directly to the vice-chairman of the company)
  • focus on the business of today, maybe tomorrow (in CVC jargon, a H1 focus), and looking for short term (3-5yrs) returns
  • relative small checks (series A/B) from the company balance sheet, but a strong value proposition of becoming the “industrialization partner” of their portfolio companies
  • engagement with the corporate Business Units (BUs) early on is key. A formal “expression of interest” from the BU execs is formalized with an MoU that becomes visible to top management

Based on the quality of the portfolio, and still a very minimalistic structure in place as Marco proudly reminds (3 people total in its San Francisco office), it looks like the fund is definitely bearing a very positive ROI for Hella, where “I” reads at the same time “Investment” and “Innovation”.

Well done Marco Marinucci 😉


1.34 When Marco Marinucci started stocking Marco Marinucci on Facebook

4.10 When the 3rd Marco Marinucci appeared

5.30 Hella as a (family) business (with 40K people) to leader in lidar and radar tech

9.15 How Hella Ventures got started 5yrs ago

13.30 Learning from the Bosch and BMW ventures

14.20 How we pivoted to innovation close to business of today

15.02 Structure: evergreen, from seed to Series A-B [$2-5M checks]

19.00 How to engage the BUs in the process –

24.12 Why we ask a MoU with BUs

28.42 What are you missing the most from lockdown

29.50 Impact to automotive industry and ride sharing

34.53 Will owning a car be cool again?

38.35 Effect of big German car industry? Bail-out?

41.50 Can anyone profit from the current economic turmoil?

44.33 Roles of CVC and how is Hella Ventures facing the uncertainties