The European VC Digest, Straight to Your Inbox

Capital Call #1

This is Capital Call, a weekly newsletter highlighting what investors in European startups are thinking—in their own words.

We are Willy Braun, Nicolas Colin, and Vincent Touati-Tomas, and we’ve decided to launch this project for the following reasons:

  • An ongoing conversation among investors is a critical contribution to building a startup ecosystem. It helps with firming up investment theses, spotting opportunities for new ventures, and influencing various stakeholders such as the government, the press, and academia. We need more of these conversations if we want the pan-European ecosystem to mature.

  • There are more and more European investors voicing their ideas in public, without necessarily waiting for journalists to interview them. They write on Medium (or Substack 😉), they contribute threads on Twitter, they have conversations with other ecosystem players in podcasts. We want to curate that content, which is only growing in quantity and quality.

  • Those who invest in European tech lack a common platform where their ideas collide. Too often, a detour via the US is needed for interesting ideas to be shared and new voices to emerge. European investors are guests in the Silicon Valley salon, where conversations are necessarily centered on the US, when in fact they could have (and need) their own forum to discuss Europe.

Our definition of an investor is rather large: they can be managing partners or operators in VC and PE firms, angel investors, scouts, analysts, hedge fund managers, or investment bankers. We want to focus on the individuals and stress the diversity of backgrounds, cultures, and languages that characterizes tech investing in Europe—hence, the flags attached to each name. A section at the end of each issue will be dedicated to providing more details about the individuals featured in that issue.

This week all eyes were on space with the successful launch of Falcon 9’s crew to orbit. But SpaceX isn’t the only startup in space tech (see Bryce Tech’s Start-Up Space Report 2020 [pdf]). And great space startups are popping in Europe too (see this map of European space tech startups from the XAnge team: Mapping of European Spacetech startups).

Simon Edelsten 🇬🇧 is looking to Asia for portfolio management inspiration. Like historians, investors are often working with insufficient or poor data, so they extrapolate:

European economies have not faced the deflationary slump we now face. But global fund managers investing in Japan have decades of experience of investing against a background of deflation.

Read more here: Successful investors learn from history

For Mark Bivens 🇺🇸, those paying attention to the Covid-19 impact across geographies will know that Japan has escaped relatively unscathed in terms of adverse health ramifications.

Brett Bivens 🇺🇸 sums up the strategy-related topics and ideas discussed in a recent podcast: Structural Shifts

Barend Van den Brande 🇧🇪 picked 10 reasons why Hummingbird’s investment in Peak (acquired by Zynga for $1.8B) is a once-in-a-blue-moon outlier: Peak sale to Zynga drives 8.6x gross fund return for Hummingbird Ventures.

See also this thread by Yacine Ghalim 🇫🇷 about that very topic on Twitter 👇

Nicolas Colin 🇫🇷 (co-editor of this newsletter) discusses the “Great Fragmentation” and its consequences for startups in Europe: Why European startups should focus on their home market.

Ghyslain Gaillard 🇫🇷 shared the communication guidelines that his firm uses to optimize remote working: Exceptional Communication Guidelines: How InReach Ventures Transformed Into A Remote-First VC.

Christoph Janz 🇩🇪, of Point Nine Capital, is trying to make sense of the state of fundraising today by looking at data and comparing 2019 and 2020 according to different criteria (number of deals, pre-seed etc.): Are VCs still investing?

Maxime Le Dantec 🇫🇷 shares the lessons learned from hosting a virtual CTO Summit: The Balderton Collective Summit.

Roxanne Varza 🇺🇸🇫🇷 makes a case for scouting as the best approach for VC firms to operate at the pan-European level (she herself is a scout for Atomico): Why more funds should consider launching scout programmes in Europe.

Alexander Vidiborskiy 🇷🇺 of Atomico reveals the details behind a recent transaction: Our Investment in Arculus and the Future of Manufacturing.

  • Suzanne Ashman Blair 🇬🇧 Partner, LocalGlobe, London 🇬🇧 LinkedIn | Twitter

  • Brett Bivens 🇺🇸 Venture Investor, TechNexus, Paris 🇫🇷 LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog

  • Mark Bivens 🇺🇸 Venture Partner, Truffle Capital, Paris 🇫🇷 LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog

  • Mark Boggett 🇬🇧 Managing Director, Seraphim Capital, London 🇬🇧 LinkedIn

  • Barend Van den Brande 🇧🇪 Founding Partner, Hummingbird, London 🇬🇧 LinkedIn | Twitter

  • Nicolas Colin 🇫🇷 Co-Founder & Director, The Family, London 🇬🇧 LinkedInTwitterBlog

  • Simon Edelsten 🇬🇧 Manager, Artemis Global Select Fund, London 🇬🇧 LinkedIn

  • Ghyslain Gaillard 🇫🇷 Product Manager, InReach Ventures, London 🇬🇧 LinkedIn | TwitterBlog

  • Yacine Ghalim 🇫🇷 Partner, Heartcore Capital, Paris 🇫🇷 LinkedIn | Twitter

  • Christoph Janz 🇩🇪 Partner, Point Nine Capital, Berlin 🇩🇪 LinkedInTwitter | Blog

  • Maxime Le Dantec 🇫🇷 Investor, Balderton Capital, Paris 🇫🇷 LinkedIn | Twitter

  • Roxanne Varza 🇺🇸🇫🇷 Scout, Atomico, Paris 🇫🇷 LinkedInTwitter

  • Alexander Vidiborskiy 🇷🇺 Principal, Atomico, London 🇬🇧 LinkedIn | Twitter

We are Willy Braun 🇫🇷, Nicolas Colin 🇫🇷 and Vincent Touati-Tomas 🇫🇷. We work as investors and operators in the European VC industry. We welcome your feedback and suggestions as we fine-tune our approach. Just reply to this email with your thoughts!