200,000 downloads per month don’t happen everyday in the enterprise software universe, especially when you’re talking about a piece of infrastructure software enables search in Big Data. ElasticSearch – based in Amsterdam – was putting up those numbers and growing even faster. Clearly, they were doing something special.
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IT’S been described as “the $4.2 trillion (£2.7 trillion) opportunity”. According to the Boston Consulting Group, there will be 3bn internet users globally by 2016. If it were a nation, the internet-based economy would rank in the world’s top five. And the UK sits at the forefront, with 8.3 per cent of GDP now online – the highest proportion in the G20.
The most successful venture-backed companies are those with great entrepreneurs, disrupting a market at just the right time. Clearly the capital and claimed expertise of VCs do not on their own create a winning company. The entrepreneur and founding team are the most critical building blocks. After all, entrepreneurs can be successful without venture capitalists, but the reverse is obviously not possible. Venture capital amplifies the success of the best startup companies, and also in marginal cases, the capital and support of a good venture-capital firm can make the difference between a positive or negative outcome for all concerned.
When Net-a-Porter launched in 2000, Natalie Massenet, the company’s inspiring founder, faced considerable scepticism about the very premise of her new venture. Why would women ever buy expensive clothing online? Wasn’t the internet the realm of mass market, cheap goods—the antithesis of what exclusive brands like Louboutin and Chloe stood for?
I recall three things about my first visit to the Socialbakers team in Prague, in the autumn of 2010. The first was the size of their office: they were working in a cramped cubby-hole in the loft of a six storey building, shivering through the winter.
When Guido and Kyle were looking for a name for their newly founded company, they were struggling to come up with something that captured the breadth of their vision for what they foresaw as the future of the networking business. They could have found another randomly-generated five or six letter Latin-sounding name, but that didn’t seem to do the vision or the company justice.
This month Gianni is retiring. We have been working together for almost 10 years. Gianni is a top level immunologist, with several claims to fame in his career: former head of biology at Human Genome Science and, before that, head of the cytokine and monoclonal antibody groups at Roche, where he also headed the interferon gamma group. He brought to the clinic the first ever drug from genomics research (MPF1). Finally, he's a relentless tailor of so many academic collaborations and he was responsible for extramural research at Merck Serono, his last corporate job. Then, for the last 10 years Gianni has been active in venture capital, having joined our Geneva office, as in house scientific advisor.
The ‘campaign’ to kickstart the London tech IPO market has kicked off. The blog posts that Neil Rimer and I both published have attracted a lot of press attention. The engagement we’ve had with No10 and the LSE should result in some small but important regulatory changes that should be seen as important steps towards making London a major hub for tech IPOs.
Yesterday, over 130 people, largely drawn from Cambridge, London and Oxford, attended the first ever ‘Playground’ event, aimed squarely at young academics thinking about biotech start-ups. We figured the best way to shine a spotlight on this world was to have five experienced entrepreneurs talk about how they got into the business and how they’ve dealt with the ups and downs along the way. This turned out to be a good call!
He turned 46 years old last week and at the end of 2011 he chose to leave a coveted academic position as Principal Investigator in the Department of Medicine at Cambridge University (UK). Really? Has he done that? Is this guy crazy? Even his beloved mum told him before prematurely passing away last year: "How can you be possibly do that, dear? What is more exciting than being faculty at Cambridge University?" True. It was tough, but he wanted to go. David Grainger had to go because he needed to follow his logic.