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Main article: Adyen

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Topics from 1 to 10 | in all: 13

US regulators need to catch up with Europe on fintech innovation 

01:12 | 24 January

Alastair Mitchell Contributor
Alastair Mitchell is a partner at multi-stage VC fund EQT Ventures and the fund's B2B sales, marketing and SaaS expert. Ali also focuses on helping US companies scale into Europe and vice versa.
More posts by this contributor

Fintech companies are fundamentally changing how the financial services ecosystem operates, giving consumers powerful tools to help with savings, budgeting, investing, insurance, electronic payments and many other offerings. This industry is growing rapidly, filling gaps where traditional banks and financial institutions have failed to meet customer needs.

Yet progress has been uneven. Notably, consumer fintech adoption in the United States lags well behind much of Europe, where forward-thinking regulation has sparked an outpouring of innovation in digital banking services — as well as the backend infrastructure onto which products are built and operated.

That might seem counterintuitive, as regulation is often blamed for stifling innovation. Instead, European regulators have focused on reducing barriers to fintech growth rather than protecting the status quo. For example, the U.K.’s Open Banking regulation requires the country’s nine big high-street banks to share customer data with authorized fintech providers.

The EU’s PSD2 (Payment Services Directive 2) obliges banks to create application programming interfaces (APIs) and related tools that let customers share data with third parties. This creates standards that level the playing field and nurture fintech innovation. And the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority supports new fintech entrants by running a “sandbox” for software testing that helps speed new products into service.

Regulations, if implemented effectively as demonstrated by those in Europe, will lead to a net positive to consumers. While it is inevitable that regulations will come, if fintech entrepreneurs take the action to engage early and often with regulators, it will ensure that the regulations put in place support innovation and ultimately benefit the consumer.

 


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Atomico Partner Tom Wehmeier reviews ‘The State of European Tech’ 2019 report

01:33 | 3 December

Atomico, the European venture capital firm founded by Skype’s Niklas Zennström, has released its latest annual The State of European Tech report, published in partnership with Slush and Orrick.

As part of the report, the authors surveyed 5,000 members of the ecosystem — including 1,000 founders — as well as pulling in robust data from other sources, such as Dealroom and the London Stock Exchange .

This year, the report reveals that the European tech ecosystem continues to mature and shows no sign of slowing — particularly highlighting the contrast from five years ago when the The State of European Tech report made its debut. Almost every key indicator is up and to the right, except, rather depressingly, diversity.

The data shows, for example, that competition for talent and access to the best founders has increased ferociously. And from a funding perspective, European founders have more choice than ever, especially with U.S. and Asian VC firms investing more and more in the region. Progress with gender diversity stalled, however, such as 92% of funding going to all-male teams.

I caught up with the report’s author Tom Wehmeier, Partner and Head of Insights at Atomico (also sometimes jokingly referred to as the “Mary Meeker of Europe”), where we discuss in more detail some of the key findings and why, it seems, that the rest of the world has finally woken up to Europe’s tech potential.

But first, a few headlines from the report:

  • European technology companies are on track to raise a record 30$B+ in funding in 2019, up from $25B the year before. (Source: Dealroom)
  • Despite failing to match the level of venture-backed exits of 2018, there was a record number of 40 $100M-plus deals as of September 2019, a size that many European tech sceptics did not believe was possible. (Source: Dealroom)
  • A number of multi-billion-dollar non-venture backed companies like Nexi and Trainline made their debut on the public markets.
  • European tech policymaking remains a mystery to many European founders.
  • When asked to describe the top priority of the European Commission in terms of tech policy, 40% of founders and startup employees say they don’t feel informed enough to comment. (Source: survey)
  • Despite this reported lack of awareness on policy issues, all respondents voted EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager as the person who had the most influence on European tech in 2019, good or bad. (Source: survey)
  • European parliamentarians aren’t talking about fintech and digital health, two sectors which investors poured a combined $12.7bn into last year (Source: Politico and Dealroom)
  • Europe’s diversity figures are still grim reading.
  • In 2019, 92% of funding went to all-male teams, a similar level to 2018. (Source: Dealroom)
  • There is still only one woman CTO in the 119 companies (<1%) based on a sample of executives in CxO positions at 251 European VC-backed tech companies that raised a Series A or B round between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019 with more than $10M funding, even though 7.5% of software engineers are women. (Source: Stack Overflow, Craft, Dealroom)
  • Looking beyond gender diversity, ethnic minorities in tech experienced discrimination at a much high rate than white peers. (Source: survey)
  • At least 80% of Black/African/Caribbean respondents who reported experiencing discrimination linked it to their ethnicity. (Source: survey)
  • 63% of women VCs reported increased focus on attending events with stronger participation from diverse founders. The corresponding number for men VCs was only 33% of female respondents suggested that their male counterparts are leaving female VCs to fix Europe’s diversity problem. (Source: survey)
  • European founders aren’t just aiming for commercial success — they are trying to solve some of the world’s largest problems.
  • One in five European founders states that their company is already measuring its societal and/or environmental impact. (Source: survey)
  • Only 14% of founders don’t believe it’s relevant for their company. Founders that are women are much more likely to be advanced in their approach to measuring impact. (Source: survey)
  • Employees are placing a greater emphasis on corporate social responsibility, with 57% citing its importance in the State of European Tech survey. (Source: survey)

Extra Crunch: It is 5 years since Atomico published the first The State of European Tech report, which really attempted to capture a data-driven snapshot of the entire ecosystem. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen within European tech in the intertwining years or in this year in particular?

Tom Wehmeier: If I think back to when we did the first report, people who believe that Europe could actually be an interesting player in global technology, were largely limited to people who were in the tech industry in Europe itself. If you then fast forward to today, what has clearly happened — and I think 2019 was the year where this really materialized and became part of the narrative — was that belief translating from people on the inside to a bunch of people that were on the outside.

Most obviously has been the strength of interest from from the U.S. and the number of top-tier U.S. funds that are not just increasing their level of investment activity but committing to spending more and more time here on the ground, hiring people, building teams, building a network, and getting to know companies. I think it probably surprises people to know that 19% of all rounds this year will involve at least one U.S. investor in Europe, which is more than double since since the first year we did the report.

I think the other thing, where I come back to this idea that now we have finally convinced a certain group of people about the role that Europe can play, is mainstream institutional investors. I know it is not going to be lost on you, [but] this is going to be another record year for VC fund raising from Europe. And whilst the headline numbers might not be a surprise, I think what should catch people’s attention is that the composition of the LP base here in Europe is now shifting. And finally, there’s an unlocking of institutional investors, [by which] I mean pension funds, funds of funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, who are committing to European VC at levels that are significantly increased and elevated from where they had been in the past. So, if you just take pension funds, we’re going to see close to a billion dollars invested which is up nearly three fold.

It’s a validation of what’s happening around European tech to see that now coming through and I think is ultimately something that helps to build a foundation for the next five years of success. As much as this is a report that’s looking back, it’s also about trying to understand where things go from here.

With regards to the pension funds, do you think that is driven by the general bullishness towards European tech, or do you think it’s more the macro economic reality that maybe other places where they could put their money aren’t very attractive at the moment?

I think it’s really a reflection that there’s a strong level of belief that European venture as an asset class is an attractive investment opportunity. And that is reflected by the numbers. One of the charts that we’ve got in the report is from Cambridge Associates who do the benchmarking for the VC indices… And when you look back over a 1, 3, 5, or even a 10 year horizon, the performance from European VC is demonstrating that this is a place where for anyone building a diversified portfolio, they should have some allocation. I think it’s fundamentally the strength of the investment opportunity. That is the single biggest driver for why you’re seeing this happen.

I think the biggest thing that Europe has been able to prove is that it can take a great idea and turn it into a great company and that company can scale to not just a billion dollar outcome but to a multi-billion dollar outcome and go all the way through into an IPO or into a large scale acquisition. What you’ve seen happen in 2019 is in part A reflection of what happened last year where it was obviously this record year with Spotify, Adyen, Farfetch, Elastic and others that really showed you can go full cycle from start all the way to finish. And that the magnitude of those outcomes can be at a scale that makes them globally relevant.

Are the pension funds shifting their allocation of VC away from other geographies or are they just doing more VC as a whole?

 


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Elavon to acquire Sage Pay, a gateway that competes with Stripe, PayPal and Adyen, for $300M

12:46 | 18 November

E-commerce continues to gain momentum — a trend we’ll see played out in the next two months of holiday shopping — and with that comes more consolidation. Today, Elavon, the payments company that is a subsidiary of US Bancorp, announced that it will acquire Sage Pay, one of the bigger payment processors in the UK and Ireland serving small and medium businesses.

Sage Pay’s owner Sage Group said the deal is being done for £232 million in cash (or $300 million at today’s currency rates).

Elavon is active in 10 countries and says it’s the fourth-largest merchant acquirer in Europe, competing against the likes of  Global Payments, Vantiv, FIS, Ingenico, Verifone, Stripe, Chase, MasterCard and Visa. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval (both by the Federal Reserve in the US and the Central Bank of Ireland), and if all proceeds, the deal is expected to close in Q2 of 2020.

The acquisition points to a bigger trend underway in e-commerce. The market is very fragmented, not just in terms of the companies who sell goods online but also (and perhaps especially) in terms of the companies that manage the complexities at the back end.

In keeping with that, Sage Pay has a lot of competitors in its specific area of taking and managing the payments process for online retailers and others taking transactions online or via mobile apps. They include some of the same competitors as Elavon’s: newer entrants like Stripe, Adyen, and PayPal (all of which have extensive businesses covering many countries and are each larger than Sage, valued in the billions rather than hundreds of millions of dollars), but also smaller operations like GoCardless as well as more established companies like WorldPay.

This deal is a mark of the consolidation that’s been taking place to gain better economies of scale in a market where individual transactions generally generate incremental revenues.

Sage Pay, in that context, was a relatively small player. It 2018 revenues were £41 million, but it is profitable, with an operating profit of £15 million, and Sage said it expects “to report a statutory profit on disposal of approximately £180 million on completion.”

The deal comes on the heels of Sage Group — which is publicly traded — confirming reports in September that it was looking for strategic alternatives for the payments business. Sage Group for the last couple of years has been divesting payments and banking assets to focus more on accounting, people and payroll software, which it sells through an SaaS model.

“Our vision of becoming a great SaaS company for customers and colleagues alike means we will continue to focus on serving small and medium sized customers with subscription software solutions for Accounting & Financials and People & Payroll,” said Steve Hare, Sage’s CEO, in a statement. “Payments and banking services remain an integral part of Sage’s value proposition and we will deliver them through our growing network of partnerships, including Elavon.”

Elavon, as the consolidator here, was itself acquired by US Bancorp way back in 2001 for $2.1 billion. Currently it is active in 10 countries, but in that same vein of consolidation to improve economies of scale on the technical side, and to aggregate more incremental transactions on the financial side, Elavon’s main objective is to increase its overall share of the e-commerce market in Europe. specifically by expanding with Sage Pay further into the UK and Ireland.

“We are a customer-focused company that is helping businesses succeed in a global marketplace that is changing rapidly,” said Hannah Fitzsimons, president and general manager of Elavon Merchant Services, Europe. “This acquisition brings tremendous talent and leading technology to Elavon, which can be leveraged across the European market.”

 


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Europe shows the way in online privacy

21:31 | 26 September

Alastair Mitchell Contributor
Alastair Mitchell is a partner at multi-stage VC fund EQT Ventures and the fund's B2B sales, marketing and SaaS expert. Ali also focuses on helping US companies scale into Europe and vice versa.

After passively watching for many years as tech giants developed dominant market positions that threaten consumer privacy and stifle competition, American antitrust regulators seem to have finally grasped what’s happening and decided to take action. 

This increasing scrutiny, which tacitly acknowledges that Europe’s more proactive regulators were perhaps right all along, is helping unleash a wave of tech startups at the expense of big tech. By holding industry titans accountable over the privacy and use of our data, regulators are encouraging long overdue disruption of everything from back-end infrastructure to consumer services.

Over the past decade, Facebook, Google, Amazon and others have tightened their grip on their respective domains by buying up hundreds of smaller rivals, with little U.S. government opposition. But as their dominance has grown, and as egregious privacy violations and mishaps proliferate, regulators can no longer look the other way.

In recent months, American regulators have announced a flurry of new antitrust investigations into big technology companies. The Federal Trade Commission has voted to fine Facebook $5 billion for misusing consumer data, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is probing the tech industry for antitrust violations and 50 attorneys general announced an antitrust probe into Google. U.S. officials are even considering establishing a digital watchdog agency.

It’s hard to understand why it took so long, though perhaps U.S. officials were loath to target domestic companies that were driving huge economic growth and creating millions of new jobs. In contrast, their counterparts across the pond have been on an antitrust tear under the watch of European Union antitrust commissioner (and now also EVP of digital affairs) Margrethe Vestager.

Now that regulators from both Europe and the United States are pursuing antitrust probes, they have exposed areas where startups can innovate. 

Startups take on big tech

 


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Still in stealth mode, Duffel raises $21.5m in Series A from Benchmark for its travel platform

10:13 | 19 June

Ten months ago London startup hinted that it would be “a new way to book travel online, aiming at the booking experience ‘end to end’”, announced a healthy $4.7M funding round, but not much else.

Today it goes further, announcing a $21.5m in Series A funding from VC giant Benchmark, which also backed Snap, Twitter and Uber. Benchmark is joined by Blossom Capital and Index Ventures, who participated in Duffel’s $4.7m seed round last year.

With this news, we at least get a little more detail. It will be a B2B offering, allowing individual travel agents to large online travel management companies and tour operators to offer a “seamless travel experience” to their end customers, making the booking experience simpler, faster and cheaper.

Is this a new Sabre? Steve Domin, co-founder and CEO of Duffel, hints that it is: “The travel industry is underpinned by archaic software and processes that are fundamentally prohibitive for the modern day traveler. We are reinventing the underwiring between online agents and the providers – airlines, hotels, transport operators – in much the same way that the payments world is changing for merchants, because of tools like Adyen and Stripe.”

In other words, Duffel appears to be building a new software stack for travel, in the same way that challenge banks started from scratch to make themselves more agile than the laggard, incumbent banks.

Duffel was one of the Y Combinator S18 cohort and have put together a team drawn from their alumni companies including GoCardless, Gitlab and Turo. It plans to launch this Autumn.

Chetan Puttagunta, general partner at Benchmark, said: “We have been watching Duffel from a distance and we are incredibly excited by the possibility it has to create something valuable for customers and travel providers alike. Duffel is focused on providing a better booking experience by building a platform that is easy to use with deep functionality.”

Ophelia Brown, founder of Blossom Capital, said: “Duffel has been clear on its vision to improve the travel experience for everyone from day one. This is a great example of the way that European founders are becoming more ambitious than ever before.”

The market is waiting with baited-breath to find out if Duffel’s stellar fund-raising capabilities can eventually match the claims made for the product.

 


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As stock rises on a slim earnings beat, eBay tells analysts to focus on payments and ads

03:32 | 31 October

Despite increasing competition from traditional retailers like Walmart and Target, which have invested heavily in e-commerce, and the whupping it’s routinely taking from Amazon among pure e-commerce companies, eBay the 20-year-old lumbering Pez dispenser of an e-tailer, keeps plugging along.

Now, as it manages to eke out another earnings win by matching analysts’ expectations, the company is telling the bankers that watch it to look to advertising and payments for its future growth.

The company met analysts’ estimates of revenue totaling $2.65 billion, up from $2.41 billion in the year-ago period. That amounts to adjusted earnings of 56 cents per share, up from 48 cents per share in the year-ago period and beating analyst estimates of 54 cents per share. Profits for the company hit $720 million for the quarter.

The news sent shares up over 4 percent in trading after the market closed on Tuesday.

But more interesting than the the tepid results was its outlook for the future. Right now, eBay is at a crossroads as it tries to get a new group of users to forget about its past as a marketplace for used goods and resellers — and as a more pure e-commerce company.

“This quarter we continued to make foundational investments to improve the long-term competitiveness of our marketplace while setting the stage for significant growth opportunities,” said CEO Devin Wenig in a statement. “We will continue to innovate the customer experience while executing our growth initiatives in Payments and Advertising to position eBay for future success.”

The fact is, eBay is growing. It saw the number of active buyers across the platform increase by 4 percent, and has 177 million global active buyers. While that number is dwarfed by Amazon’s over 300 million global buyers (as of 2017), it’s one of the largest retailers in the U.S. The company’s StubHub business saw revenues of $291 million, up 7 percent from the year-ago period and sales of $1.2 billion. Its classified payments also grew.

As eBay looks ahead, payments and advertising are going to receive a bulk of the company’s internal investment dollars as it tries to complete the rollout of a new payment experience in the wake of its divorce from PayPal and its embrace of Adyen, Apple Pay, and the technology-based financial services company, Square.

The company has already processed $38 million in payments and through the partnership with Apple Pay has grown that payment method to 12 percent on the platform. Advertising on eBay has seen 400,000 sellers promote over 160 million listings.

“We continue to grow the inventory on the marketplace,” Schenkel. “Just recently we rolled out a direct from brand and direct from authorized resellers… Brands want choice and they want to sell on a marketplace with 177 million users that doesn’t compete with them.”

The company will also continue to have an aggressive investment and mergers and acquisitions strategy, the executives said. Especially since the company found its earnings buoyed by the $1 billion it brought in from the sale of its stake in Flipkart, href="https://techcrunch.com/2018/05/09/walmart-confirms-16b-flipkart-investment-giving-it-77-in-indias-e-commerce-leader/"> when it was bought by Walmart for $16 billion.

What’s somewhat interesting is that there are new companies in the retail space that are making a mint doing things that eBay once dominated. Vinted and DePop are both used-clothing e-tailers that have enviable cache and significant revenues, while LetGo and OfferUp are also raiding used goods to turn trash into treasure.

A quick trip to eBay’s homepage shows that the company has all but consigned its collectible past to the trash heap. Given the death and dissolution of so many of its peers from the first generation of internet giants, it’s worth keeping an eye on eBay if only to see how the 20-something company approaches middle age as an independent entity.

“We have a unique situation. [The] eBay brand is very well recognized and not as well understood. We’re seeing this; that new buyers are responding really well to the changes that we made in the last few years and we need more of them and part of that is messaging our brand,” said Wenig on the earnings call with investment analysts.

 


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YC-backed travel startup Duffel inks $4.7M round led by Blossom Capital, but stays coy on the details

17:21 | 31 August

A new London-based travel-industry startup is slowly coming out of stealth mode, but although it’s releasing it’s funding round, it’s keeping the actual product close to its chest. For now.

Y Combinator -backed travel startup Duffel says it is working on “a new way to book travel online, aiming at the booking experience “end to end”. A hint at what this might mean is the fact that the team contains alumni from GoCardless and is objectively very experienced in the FinTech world.

So far, that’s all we’re getting. But what we do know is that Duffel is today today announcing an investment round of $4.7 million.

Blossom Capital is the lead investor in the round and has built a syndicate with other major investors: The Crankstart Foundation and Index Ventures. Crankstart is the charitable investment vehicle of Michael Moritz .

It’s also revealed that it’s currently participating in the Y Combinator S18 Cohort.

The UK headquartered company was founded by two former early GoCardless employees: Steve Domin and Tom Bates, as well as Vincent Pastor. Steve and Tom join the list of GoCardless-alumni startups, which include the founders of Monzo and Nested. They say the money will be used to expand their engineering team in London.

Steve Domin, founder of Duffel said: “We are building a platform from scratch that will completely redefine the nature of travel experiences booked on web or mobile. The travel industry hasn’t evolved its technology to service the demand and behaviours of its most important customers and the providers – airlines, hotels, transport companies – and their customers are hurting as a result. Travel agents still work on terminals that look like they’re from the 70s and travel buyers still have to browse 10 websites before finding that perfect fare. This shouldn’t be the case any more and we’re planning to solve this issue from the ground up.”

Commenting Blossom Capital founder Ophelia Brown said: “The Duffel team have very ambitious plans to completely reinvent the travel space, so we are very excited to support them in their mission. Similar to payments, before the emergence of next-gen companies like Adyen or Stripe, this is an industry that hasn’t witnessed innovation in decades, still running on antiquated rails and infrastructure. We see huge opportunity for innovation in this multi-trillion dollar industry.”

This is the second firm London-based Blossom has invested in straight out of Y Combinator. Recent investments include Fat Llama, an online marketplace for renting belongings like audio, video, sound and DJ equipment.

 


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Adyen charges ahead in its first earnings as a public company, with H1 revenues up 67% to $298M

15:34 | 22 August

After Adyen’s huge debut on the public markets in June that saw the stock go up 92 percent on its first day of trading, the company today published its first earnings as a publicly listed business. The figures underscore to how Adyen — which provides services to merchants and others to power both online and offline transactions — continues to charge ahead in its growth. In the first half of the year, Adyen made revenues of €256.4 million ($298 million), up 67.3 percent compared to a year ago, with net income of €48.2 million, up 74.6 percent.

For some context, in the year that ended December 31, 2017, Adyen generated net revenues of €218 million, up 38 percent compared to 2016. In other words, in the first half of this year, Adyen has already made more than it did in all of the year before.

The stock is currently trading at €574 per share, versus a close of €548.10 the day before.

Adyen said it processed €70 billion in transactions in the period, up 43.1 percent compared to the same period a year ago. This puts it on track to grow processed volumes by about 50 percent for the full year. (Last year’s processed volume was €108 billion.)

Ebitda was €70.3 million, up 83.1 percent, with a margin of 44.9 percent. This was down slightly on last year’s margin, which Adyen ascribed to “continued investment in global team and marketing.”

As we’ve described before, Adyen’s business is predicted on the continued growth of e-commerce, and also the the increasing digitisation of in-person payments that link up data between offline and online transactions.

In each of these cases, merchants or others taking payments — Adyen’s customers include the likes of Netflix, Uber, eBay and Dunkin’ Donuts — potentially have to string together a number of different pieces to not only take payments, but to process them and use the data from them to inform wider business decisions. Adeyn’s solution essentially is to handle all of that for its customers, in order to make the process of taking payments from customers more efficient.

Through our single platform, we provide a holistic view of payments, regardless of sales channel, delivering unique shopper insights while combating fraud and improving payment authorization rates,” the company notes.

The company was built originally on solving the hurdles around digital payments — an area that still has a long way to go, considering that e-commerce is still around 10 percent or less of all transactions across many key markets. But Adyen’s more recent move into physical transactions has been a large boost to business, with point-of-sale processed volumes up 120 percent year-on-year to €6.6 billion. Nevertheless, POS payments accounted for just 9.4 percent of total processed volume, the company noted.

Adyen has been one of the most successful IPOs of the year, and is a reminder that, despite Square still yet to post a net income, there is a lot of opportunity for strong business models in financial services that disrupt existing providers. (And that goes for Square too, despite its profitability for now.) Adyen still has a long way to go before it’s the category leader. While it gave a less positive outlook for future quarters, PayPal in the last quarter alone noted $139 billion in payments processed, as well as $3.86 billion in revenue, on net income of $526 million.

 

 


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Felicis Ventures has a new, $270 million fund, and a new managing director: Victoria Treyger

15:00 | 1 August

Felicis Ventures, the early-stage, San Francisco-based venture firmed founded a dozen or so years ago by former Googler Aydin Senkut, has closed its sixth fund with $270 million.

It’s Felicis’s biggest vehicle to date (the firm closed its last fund with $200 million in 2016). Yet even bigger news for the team may be its new managing director, Victoria Treyger, who spent the last six-plus years as the chief revenue office of the online lending company Kabbage and before that, spent a couple of years as the chief marketing officer of RingCentral, the cloud phone system company.

It’s easy to understand the attraction on both sides. Treyger gives the firm greater strength when it comes to marketing and fintech know-how. According to Senkut, Treyger is also acutely interested in health-related opportunities, which, not coincidentally, is a growing area of interest for the firm.

Indeed, he argues, persuasively, Treyger was being courted aggressively from operating companies wanting to tap her experience as a C-level executive at two separate but fast-growing companies.

That Treyger decided to pursue venture capital surely speaks to an interest in the industry broadly. But Felicis seems like a particularly good fit for her, too. For one thing, Treyger “basically has an equal spot at the table,” according to Senkut. This isn’t always the case with a new hire into a venture firm, even at the most senior level.

Treyger also joins a now four-person leadership team — including Senkut, Sundeep Peechu, and Wesley Chan — that has, in the parlance of the startup world, been crushing it.

Already in 2018, the firm has seen three major exits, including when Adyen, the Amsterdam-based payments platform, went public in June (it currently boasts a $16.3 billion market cap); when Pluralsight, the corporate learning platform, went public on the Nasdaq in May (it’s currently valued at just north of $3 billion); and when Ring, the video doorbell maker, was acquired in March by Amazon for $1 billion.

Felicis can — and does — further brag that has enjoyed a $1 billion(ish) exit in each of the last seven years. The full list includes: Meraki (acquired for $1.2 billion by Cisco in 2012); Climate Corp (which sold in 2013 to Monsanto for roughly $930 million); Twitch (acquired for $970 million in 2014 Amazon); Shopify (it went public in 2015); Fitbit (it also went public in 2015); Cruise (it was acquired by General Motors for reportedly more than $1 billion in 2016); Dollar Shave Club (acquired for $1 billion by Unilever in 2016); and Rovio (which went public last year).

How was the firm pulled off what seem like an outsize number of hits for a small and relatively young organization? Senkut says one central tenet for the firm is resiliency, meaning Felicis works to ensure that it’s portfolio is “anti fragile,” as described by essayist, scholar, and risk analyst Nassim Taleb, in his 2012 book about “things that gain from disorder.”

As it pertains to Felicis, Senkut says, “We basically want to have many uncorrelated bets — across stages, sectors and geographies — so that no matter what happens in the world, some part of our portfolio is always poised to win.”

The strategy, which has since the firm invest everywhere from Canada to Australia and in between, has certainly paid off so far.

Though early last year Felicis lost its first female general partner, Renata Quinitini, to venture peer Lux Capital (she said her interests and Lux’s began to align better over time),  Felicis describes its newest fund as “oversubscribed.” It’s an easy claim to believe, given the amount of money that investors are looking to park with venture firms, and the performance to date of Felicis in particular.

Still, taking on more investing capital was not a consideration, says Senkut. Asked why not, he laughs. “We know our strike zone,” he says.

 


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Hear from leading venture capitalists at Disrupt Berlin

13:21 | 15 November

TechCrunch Disrupt is returning to Berlin this December, and among the founders and developers speaking, we’re pleased to have leading venture capitalists on stage to talk about fundraising, entrepreneurship and the trends they’re looking to fund.

The show is jam-packed, and just like every Disrupt, the focus is on startups and the bleeding edge of technology. Fifteen startups are launching in Startup Battlefield and hundreds of young companies are exhibiting in Startup Alley. And though spots are limited, every Disrupt attendee can participate CrunchMatch, a free program that connects founders and investors based on their specific criteria, goals and interests.

Disrupt Berlin 2017 also features an impressive lineup of fireside chats, panels and workshops with icons of the European and global tech scene.

Here’s a sampling of the investors speaking at the event. View the full agenda here. Tickets are still available, too, and can be purchased here.

Jan Hammer
Partner, Index Ventures

Jan joined Index in 2010, and is a London-based partner, focusing on fintech and information/data services across all stages of growth.

He is one of Index Ventures’ leading fintech investors, working with the founders of Adyen, Credit Benchmark, Robinhood and TransferWise. In all, Index has backed more than two dozen fintech companies, with more than $400 million. Jan has also led Index investments and is on the boards of Beamery, Collibra, SafetyCulture and Silverfin.

Samantha Jérusalmy
Partner, Elaia Partners

Samantha joined Elaia Partners in 2008. She began her career as a consultant at Eurogroup, a consulting firm specialized in organisation and strategy, within the Bank and Finance division. She then joined Clipperton Finance, a corporate finance firm dedicated to high-tech growth companies, before moving to Elaia Partners in 2008. She became an Investment Manager in 2011 then a Partner in 2014.

Andy McLoughlin
Partner, Uncork Capital (fka SoftTech VC)

Andy is a Partner with Uncork Capital (fka SoftTech VC), one of Silicon Valley’s most active seed-stage venture capital firms where he primarily invests in SaaS, vertical industry solutions, and developer tools.

Prior to joining Uncork Capital, Andy was co-founder of London-headquartered Huddle, an enterprise SaaS collaboration platform that was acquired in 2017. Andy’s angel investment portfolio includes innovative B2B products like Pipedrive, Intercom, Apiary (acquired by Oracle), Buffer and Bugsnag, as well as consumer services including Postmates, Secret Escapes, HER, and Calm.

Martin Mignot
Partner, Index Ventures

Martin is based in London, where he focuses on startups in large markets like food, transportation, finance, health and SME, developing must-have products that get exponentially better with each new user.

He has worked with the founders of many such businesses, including BlaBlaCar and Deliveroo. He also serves on the board of Drivy, KRY, Rad, TheFamily and Trainline (following the acquisition of Captain Train). He was also on the board at SwiftKey until its acquisition by Microsoft in 2016, and led the Seed round in hosted search API company Algolia. Most of his initial investments are Seed and Series A.

Dr. Christian Nagel
Co-Founder, Partner of Earlybird

Dr. Christian Nagel is Co-Founder and Partner of Earlybird. Christian has more than 20 years of entrepreneurial and investment experience. Prior to founding Earlybird in 1997, Christian, together with a group of investors, acquired various companies from the Treuhandanstalt (the former East-German state holding) and gained operational experience. He holds a Diplom-Wirtschaftsingenieur degree (Industrial Engineering, MSc equivalent) from the Technical University of Hamburg, specializing in process engineering and a PhD degree in management from the University of St. Gallen.

Ciarán O’Leary
Co-founder BlueYard Capital

Ciarán O’Leary is a co-founder of BlueYard Capital, a $120m early stage fund based in Berlin that invests in founders decentralizing markets, empowering users and liberating data. Ciarán’s investments include Wunderlist, Carto, BigchainDB, Vectary, deepstream and others from Palo Alto to Bratislava. Prior to founding BlueYard, Ciarán set-up Earlybird Venture Capital’s Berlin office as a partner and before that was at The Carlyle Group.

Neil Rimer,
Founding partner, Index Ventures

Neil co-founded Index Ventures in Geneva in 1996.

His vision was to support the most ambitious entrepreneurs, bringing Silicon Valley-style investing to Europe at a time when “venture capital” was still a new term outside the US. As he recalled in a Financial Times interview: “We started every meeting with a slide that was literally ‘What is VC?’”

20 years on, while staying true to its European roots, Index has become one of the world’s leading venture capital firms, with principal offices in London and San Francisco. So far, the firm has raised $5.6 billion and has more than 160 companies in its portfolio.

Mounia Rkha
VC, ISAI

Mounia started her career in the VC industry in 2008 with Ventech. She moved in 2011 to Morocco to co-found and manage Mydeal, one of the first group buying sites in Maghreb. Back to Paris, she joined Schibsted Growth, the corporate venture fund of the Schibsted Group (owner of the successful classifieds site LeBonCoin). She joined ISAI in june 2015 to manage the Seed Club activity. Mounia is also a co-founder of StartHer, an organization that aims at promoting entrepreneurship by women.

 


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