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.
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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.
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.
We’ve been looking for the elephant in the room for some time. We knew he was there, but we just couldn’t find him. It’s clear that he is now here and his name is Hortonworks. As such, we are very excited to announce today that Index Ventures has made an investment in Hortonworks.
Today as we announce the news that we’re launching Index’s second growth equity fund, a new €500m fund to invest in fast-growing businesses, it seems like a good chance to take stock and give a little context.