We first started investing in London in 2001 when we backed two American former consultants - Josh Hannah and Vince Monical - who had moved here to start Flutter, the business which later became Betfair. In fact, it’s pretty remarkable how far London has come in entrepreneurial terms since we made that first investment and Danny opened our first London office on Clifford Street in 2002.
Since then, we have moved (around the corner) and also set up a London East outpost in Shoreditch, within spitting distance of Silicon Roundabout -- the centre of gravity of London’s (and increasingly Europe’s) entrepreneurial tech scene. In fact, we pretty much witnessed the birth of Silicon Roundabout when Moo CEO and founder Richard Moross moved into a semi-ropey building on Old Street Roundabout that had been slated for demolition. Richard took on more space than he needed and started offering desks to other startups looking and pretty soon he’d rented out all his extra space.
Old Street Roundabout was famously given the name Silicon Roundabout in 2008 by one of Richard’s new tenants: Matt Biddulph, who co-founded Dopplr. Dopplr (Nokia) along with Amee, Soundcloud and Tweetdeck (Twitter) were all part of the original gang in Moo’s offices and when Moo finally outgrew its Old Street office, they passed the torch and Huddle moved in. Moo moved to Scrutton Street, also in the heart of Shoreditch and this time we also took a few desks so we could spend a few days a week rubbing shoulders with some of Moo’s new gang like Groupspaces, Lanyrd, Lightbox and LevelBusiness.
It turns out we’ve been pretty active in London over the last 10 years.
We’ve invested more than £185m in over 40 startups. But while all these companies started small, many have grown up really fast. In fact, in just the last 10 years when you look across all our London investments well over 5,000 new jobs and close to £1.5bn in new annual revenues have been created.
London has really given us exposure to all ends of the startup spectrum.
We have been very active in seed, investing over £26m in 15 London companies over the last decade, including the likes of Moo, Moshi Monsters, PeoplePerHour, Seedcamp, Songkick and Stylelistpick. We’ve also been involved at the earliest stages with the likes of Funding Circle, Glasses Direct, Housetrip and One Fine Stay.
Just in the last 10 years, London has also nurtured a rich vein of international category leaders and stellar exits we’ve been lucky enough to be involved with including Betfair (LSE), Last.fm (CBS), Lovefilm (Amazon), Playfish (EA), Net-a-Porter (Richemont) and Skype (eBay). All of these companies were happy to call London their home, but we believe for London - and Europe - we are just at start of creating world-beaters. We see a whole new wave of London companies like Alertme, ASOS (LSE), JustEat, King.com, Moshi Monsters, Mimecast, Viagogo and many others like Badoo, Moneybookers, Spotify and Wonga are all capable of enormous outcomes and taking a fundamental place on the global tech map.
London has some really special characteristics that we love and can really relate to.
Firstly, it is truly international which fits who we are: Canadian, Czech, French, Italian, American, South African, Swiss, Swedish – and oh yes, British. It also fits the profile and the mindset of the entrepreneurs we like to back who have also come to London from all four corners of the world.
Secondly, London is truly a creative, commercial, financial, media & marketing powerhouse on a global level. Now that it’s starting to get tech and become one of the world’s great entrepreneurial capitals this is a truly powerful cocktail and as such London has definitely become our firm’s centre of gravity.
We see the evidence building every month: the buzz around Songkick’s Silicon Milk Roundabout, Google’s recent decision to build a major campus in Shoreditch, stronger links to Silicon Valley (which we are delighted to help enable with Danny and Mike on the ground in San Francisco) plus of course the Mayor and the UK government’s efforts to recognize the importance of tech startups as an essential driver of growth.
We’re super excited about the step change we’ve seen over the last decade and now have 11 partners actively making investments In London from early-stage (Ben, Bernard, Robin, Saul, Simon and myself) to growth (Dom, Giuseppe and Jan) and life sciences (Francesco and Kevin). We love London and are honoured to have played a part in its astounding tech emergence. If the last 10 years are anything to go by, we can only be excited about what the next 10 will bring us. Strap on your cycling helmets!