Actua Corporation


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Actua Corporation (NASDAQ: ACTA) is a publicly traded venture capital firm. The company was formerly known as ICG Group, Inc. and changed its name to Actua Corporation in September 2014. In early 1996, Safeguard Scientifics executives Ken Fox and Walter Buckley spotted an emerging market in business-to-business e-commerce, or B2B as it would become known. They left their former employer to found Internet Capital Group (ICG), a venture capital firm aimed at this new business sector. Buckley explained, "We liked B2B because we knew who the customers were and could see they would be easier to lock in than consumers. B2B is grimy and dirty, but you can make a lot of money at it." The pair asked Safeguard head Pete Musser for $5 million in funding, but he insisted on investing $15 million. By May when initial funding completed, Buckley and Fox had raised $40 million to start ICG, twice what they had hoped for. In addition to Safeguard, major investors included Comcast, Compaq, and BancBoston Ventures, and a dozen or so individuals. Initially, the company was organized as a limited-liability corporation. Following the "keiretsu" model used by Safeguard, ICG would be heavily involved in the operations of the companies it invested in, and the start-ups would do business with each other, increasing the value of all parties. Its annual meetings would become opportunities for CEOs to share their experiences and cut new deals. One member CEO called it "a perfect way to manage chaos." One of ICGs first investments was a website called Water Online. Under the guidance of ICG, Water Online brought in Mark Walsh, head of AOLs B2B division, in late 1997 to run the company. The company became VerticalNet, expanded into 47 different industries, and became one of the first B2B companies to go public.