With Qualcomm Buyout Looming, EvoNexus Aims for Self-Sufficiency

In the nine years since San Diego’s EvoNexus incubator began amid the great recession of 2009, CEO Rory Moore has emphasized it is a pro bono program—startup teams admitted to the technology accelerator get free office space and other perks, with no strings attached.

EvoNexus operates as a non-profit, which is possible because dozens of local tech companies, law firms, and others provide funding to sustain the incubator’s pro bono operations. Three strategic partners in particular provide substantial (undisclosed) support—Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), ViaSat (NASDAQ: VSAT), and the private real estate developer the Irvine Company.

Now, for a variety of reasons, including the possibility that Broadcom (NASDAQ: AVGO) will succeed in its hostile offer to acquire San Diego-based Qualcomm, Moore is moving to change the incubator’s business model. In a bid to put the incubator on more self-sufficient footing, Moore said the EvoNexus board of directors is expected to vote Friday morning on a proposal that would require future startups admitted to EvoNexus to provide a small percentage of their founders’ shares to the non-profit.

It may take years to realize any revenue from the change. But the idea is that even a small stake in a few successful outcomes could go a long way toward putting EvoNexus on a path to sustaining its business operations long-term.

Of the 186 portfolio companies that EvoNexus has admitted since 2010, Moore said 21 have been acquired for a total of roughly $650 million. The biggest by far … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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