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Main article: Trainline

All topics: 6

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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The Exit: Getaround’s $300M roadtrip

21:00 | 21 May

In August of last year, Getaround scored $300 million from Softbank. Eight months later they handed that same amount to Drivy, a Parisian peer-to-peer car rental service that was Getaround’s ticket to tapping into European markets.

Both companies shared similar visions for the future of car ownership, they were about the same size, both were flirting with expanding beyond their home market, but only one had the power of the Vision Fund behind it.

The Exit is a new series at TechCrunch. It’s an exit interview of sorts with a VC who was in the right place at the right time but made the right call on an investment that paid off. [Have feedback? Shoot me an email at lucas@techcrunch.com] 

Alven Capital’s Jeremy Uzan

Alven Capital partner Jeremy Uzan first invested in Drivy’s seed round in 2013. Uzan joined Index Ventures co-leading a $2 million round that valued the company at less than $10 million. The firms would later join forces again for the company’s $8.3 million Series A.

I chatted at length with Uzan about what lies ahead for the Drive team, what Paris’s startup scene is still in desperate need of, and how Softbank’s power is becoming even more impossible to ignore.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity. 


Getting the checkbook

Lucas Matney: So before we dive into this acquisition, tell me a little bit about how you got to the point where you were writing these checks in the first place.

Jeremy Uzan: So, I studied computer science and business and then spent three years as a tech banker. I was actually in a very small investment banking boutique in Paris helping young startups to raise their Series A rounds. They were all French companies, my first deal was with the YouTube competitor DailyMotion.

 


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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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Trainline now gives you real-time train information in France

10:17 | 12 July

Trainline’s European service (formerly known as Captain Train) is becoming your one-stop shop for French trains. The company has partnered with SNCF to get real-time data about trains, delays and your current location. You had to use SNCF’s official app before to get this kind of information.

If you’ve used Trainline to book a ticket before, you know that the app can alert you to tell you the platform of your train. But there was no way to check if your train was delayed or canceled. You had to look at the billboard even though your phone is probably more powerful than the billboard in your train station.

Alternatively, the SNCF app displays this kind of information but doesn’t let you book a ticket — you have to use Voyages-SNCF or Trainline to buy tickets. But nobody wants to deal with two apps.

SNCF now has an official API and has released a ton of open data. Former digital minister Axelle Lemaire forced public administration and public companies like SNCF to share key data under an open data license. So Trainline took advantage of those APIs and data for its own apps.

And if your train is on time, you’re still going to see the difference as you’ll be able to see the next stops, how long you’re going to stop and your current position. The company says that it wants to display real-time information in other countries.

In other news, Audrey Détrie is now Trainline’s country manager for France, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. This is a brand new position. Détrie is going to to promote Trainline and represent the company.

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Captain Train rebrands to become Trainline following acquisition

21:01 | 6 September

Earlier this year, Trainline acquired Captain Train for quite a bit of money. Now, Trainline is trying to unify its train ticket booking system. First, Captain Train is now called Trainline, just like its parent company.

The logo, the app and the website are now all called Trainline. If you go on thetrainline.com, you can book tickets for the U.K. On trainline.eu, you can get tickets for Europe. Behind the scene, Captain Train runs trainline.eu.

Other than that, everything still feels familiar. The website and apps work exactly the same way. But it’s still a bit confusing that there are now two different Trainline services available.

Eventually, both services plan to merge and offer a single platform to book train tickets for Europe and the U.K. Given that Captain Train had its own itinerary calculation system, it seems likely that Captain Train’s technology is going to run all of Trainline’s services in the future.

And yet, I’m a bit sad to see the Captain Train brand go away. As long as the service remains rock solid, everything is fine. But many users don’t like change. So let’s hope Trainline is only going to improve with Captain Train’s integration.

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Trainline buys Captain Train for up to $189 million

21:16 | 14 March

We hear a lot about how companies like Uber are transforming car-based transportation, but today comes news of another play in the sector, this time covering rail services. Trainline, a U.K.-based ticket service for railway and long-distance bus journeys, has acquired Captain Train, a Paris-based competitor that sells tickets for rail journeys on the continent, in what sources close to the deal tell us is a deal worth over €100 million, potentially between €160 and €170 million ($178 million to $189 million), half in cash and half in shares.

The deal points to wider consolidation in the market, creating a single company that will let users buy tickets across 22 countries and covering some 36 train operators — and potentially help that industry compete better against other forms of short and longhaul European travel, such as low-cost airlines. Acquisition talks started a year ago in March 2015.

Clare Gilmartin, Trainline’s CEO, would not confirm the price range that our sources provided us with, but she told us that the funds used in the deal come from a “multi hundred million pound” investment made in Trainline by KKR, which acquired Trainline in January 2015, reportedly in a deal valued at up to $671 million (as with today’s deal, the financial terms were not disclosed).

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While the terms of the deal and the amount of shares have been set in stone for a while, the valuation of Trainline as well as the EUR/GBP exchange rate have fluctuated over the past few months. The company had raised around $10.7 million (€9.6 million) from Index Ventures, Alven Capital, CM-CIC Capital Privé and TheFamily, as well as business angels, such as Xavier Niel and Liligo founder Pierre Bonelli.

While most of the train companies that work with Trainline and Captain Train are also, in a sense, direct competitors with online booking forms of their own, Captain Train (originally called Capitaine Train) made a name for itself by building a smart platform that makes the process of buying those tickets significantly faster and easier — faster in fact than Trainline’s own service currently.

There are two key reasons why Trainline wants to acquire Captain Train. First, Trainline is overwhelmingly dominant in the U.K. but doesn’t operate anywhere else in Europe (Trainline has been trying to break into Europe, unsuccessfully). Captain Train sells tickets in France, Germany, Italy and many other European countries. Acquiring the French startup is much faster than signing deals with each train company in other European countries.

Second, Trainline doesn’t have its own itinerary calculation system. The company pays millions every year to use SilverRail. In the future, you can expect Trainline to switch to an in-house system powered by Captain Train’s technology. It would save the company millions every year.

“Today, the focus is on growing as much as possible in Europe,” Captain Train co-founder and CEO told TechCrunch. “We have the partnerships in Europe, we have the technical expertise with our own itinerary system that they don’t have. They have the vast majority of the U.K. market and marketing power.” Guyot will remain CEO of the subsidiary and take on the additional role of Director of Trainline International Limited.

Captain Train currently has some 1.4 million registered users and sells 5,000 tickets daily. In 2015, Captain Train processed $80 million in train ticket transactions (€72 million). Trainline, originally a spinoff from the Virgin Group, says it is the fifth largest e-commerce business in the U.K., with 4.7 million active customers and nearly 21 million web visits per month. It processes some $2.3 billion ticket transactions annually (£1.6 billion).

The two brands will co-exist for the time being. In the coming months, Trainline will add European itineraries and Captain Train will add British itineraries.

Trainline has also been trying to tap into the convenience and cost factors, building an app, Train, to help people better navigate the transportation system.

“We see significant growth in the rail market,” said Gilmartin, who noted that most sales today are still “largely offline, with close to 80% booked in station with people paying the highest price.”

When KKR acquired Trainline many saw it as a move that would take the UK company away from a potential public listing. Today, Trainline makes about a 5% commission on each ticket sale in the UK, Gilmartin said. Captain Train doesn’t disclose its margins. This could help position the company for displaying a bigger growth trajectory and potentially going public down the line.

“One year ago when KKR first invested in Trainline we had the vision of creating the clear global leader in digital rail mobility,” said Philipp Freise, Member and Head of Technology, Media and Telecoms in Europe at KKR in a statement. “The combination of Trainline and Captain Train is an important step on this journey, and will bring together a management team of world-class talent in rail, tech, product and marketing.”

 


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