In the venture capital business, you occasionally see companies rising from the ashes of a venture disaster. Companies go down to their last month of payroll and yet find a way to survive and, later, flourish. But rarely do you see a once-publicly-traded company de-list itself and find a way to package together winning technology architecture and a brand new business.
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I have worked in and around technology since 1993 with some of the world’s most amazing developers in Boston, Seattle and Tallinn. But I am a literature major who never learnt to code beyond some very basic BASIC on my BBC Micro in 1983.
Today we’re delighted to announce our new €350m early stage technology fund. It’s the final piece of €1bn of new capital we’ve raised in the last 12 months to complement the international platform we have been building to invest in both early stage and growth technology as well as life sciences companies.
While investors, (myself and my partners included) entrepreneurs, politicians and government officials collectively ballyhoo the coming of age of the London start-up scene and its steady stream of high-caliber entrepreneurs pursuing bold plans, we seem to be glossing over the fact that a key component of the ecosystem is sorely lacking. As the the US continues to churn out high profile IPOs for Zynga, Groupon, Linkedin and Facebook, the London IPO machine is eerily silent.
Today’s news that Just Eat has raised $64m to complete their European conquest and continue their expansion outside Europe (India, Canada, Brazil, etc.) is validation of a both a winning recipe and talented team of chefs. As with all businesses however the path to success curved around many blind corners. When Index Ventures first invested in 2009, the seeds of success may have been sown, but a number of risks and challenges lay ahead for the Company. I’ve gone back to my original notes from 2009 to look at risk factors my colleagues and I identified and the key questions we discussed before our original investment and provided a brief update on how the Company has progressed.
There’s just something about entrepreneurs. Irrespective of what business they’re in, there’s an energy and intensity about them that marks them out from others and makes them easy to spot. Of course if that fails, the big giveaway is that they’re the ones who aren’t in suits, but still step out of the restaurant to take a conference call at 10pm. The way I see it, anyone can be an entrepreneur, what marks out the real deal is the restless energy, constantly calculating angles and reassessing plans of attack. In fact a long time ago I came to the conclusion that this is a compulsion, not quite a disease, but with many signs and symptoms which sometimes make it look like one.
Last week, Amgen has announced the completion of the acquisition of Nasdaq-listed German company Micromet Inc., valuing it in the proximity of US$1.2b. With this acquisition, Amgen has gained a Ph3 stage molecule (blinatumomab) in development for blood tumours, a Ph1 molecule for solid tumours and the BiTE platform, the underlying innovative antibody technology platform.
Solution: have the lead investor perform like a lead investor.
Conventional wisdom and good sense would argue that it is good news for an early stage biotech company to announce the backing by a large investors syndicate (4 or more). Indeed, the fact that many smart people are independently deciding to invest into a company, contributing their cumulative expertise, networks, and cash, validates the potential of the start- up, powering it for success. This is all true, however this blessing comes with some caveats, that entrepreneurs need to keep in mind.
At face value, this could be just another (welcome!) blog about a great acquisition, but scratch a little deeper and today's news that Worklight are about to be acquired by IBM is a story of staggeringly creative entrepreneurship at work.
That story starts six years ago, when Shahar Kaminitz and Yuval Tarsi launched Worklight under the name of Serendipity. The initial vision was to enable business users to access information buried in hard-to-reach enterprise databases via flexible and consumer-style interfaces.