Lots of questions and who is doing the European Harvard for startups


Hi guys, happy Sunday!

PSA: I will take the next week off and do a bit of news detoxing, as I’m thinking and planning through the rest of the year. By all means, please do reach out and send interesting stuff my way - I usually get a dozen comments and replies to what I write, and I respond to all of them.



🇸🇪 Antler says it made a total of 58 investments since the beginning of March. Speaking of which, their team is packed with ex-McKinsey people.

🇫🇷 The 20 most active female business angels in France

🇫🇷 Top 30 business angels in France

🇪🇸 20 Spanish healthtech companies to watch

🇫🇷 The rookie VC exploring the scouting VC

🇫🇷 VC questions bible

🇬🇧 The Hierarchy of Marketplaces

🇸🇪 Spotify is now rolling out video ads to users in the US, UK, and Canada

🇩🇰 Why micro-payments are not a solution in the media industry.

🇩🇪 DAZN and Sky paid €4.4B for 4-year domestic broadcasting rights to Germany's Bundesliga soccer league.

🇵🇱 Bloober Team, the Polish studio behind Xbox Series X console exclusive The Medium, has entered second round of merger and acquisition talks with “a dozen or so” companies, including three from the United States, two from Poland and one from the UK.

🇬🇧 David Beckham has invested in a new UK-based esports startup, Guild Esports.

🇪🇺 Disney+ will expand to 8 more European countries on Sept 15 with prices in the €7-8 range depending on country.

🇫🇷 Mediawan launched a new pan-European entity, Mediawan Alliance, and has entered exclusive negotiations to acquire France’s Lagardere Studios. It also bought a majority stake in Spain’s Good Mood and is being financially backed by the French investment firm MACSF and the U.S. private equity firm KKR.

Mediawan, which acquired 23 companies since its start in 2015, was launched as a SPAC (special-purpose acquisition company) on the Paris stock exchange by telco billionaire Xavier Niel, banker Matthieu Pigasse and TV exec Pierre-Antoine Capton to roll up scripted TV production companies in Europe.

🇫🇷 Margo Bank became Memo Bank, the first independent bank to offer payment, deposit, and financing solutions to SMEs since 50 years in France. Also raised.

🇫🇮 Nordic Entertainment Group, the Nordic region’s leading streaming company, and Elisa, Finland’s market-leading telecoms operator, will combine their streaming services in Finland.

🇩🇪 Buzfeed got an offer for its German operations from an investor group consisting of Markus Posset, Alexander Schütz and Klemens Hallmann.


🇪🇺 EU says GDPR is working but it needs more resources for enforcing it.

🇫🇷 French constitutional authority rejects law forcing online platforms to delete hate-speech content

🇪🇸 In Madrid you get subsidies of €150 for buying a scooter, €500 for an e-bike, €600 for an e-moped, and €750 for an e-motorcycle. Super cool.

🇫🇷 Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo released a “Manifesto for Paris” placing ecology at the heart of city policy, including a 30km/hr speed limit everywhere; parking spaces cut in half; the city’s new temporary cycle lanes & pedestrian streets made permanent.

🇪🇸 Jaime is creating Corruption-O-Pedia by scrapping data from public yet hard to use databases of public tendering and contracting with political parties census

🇳🇱 Amsterdam ejects Airbnb et al from three central districts in latest P2P platform limits.

Travel as we knew it is over anyways, according to Airbnb’s CEO.

🇬🇧 The UK’s planned reductions in emissions, even if it hits net zero by 2050, would be two or three times greater than its fair share of emissions under the landmark 2015 Paris agreement, where countries agreed to hold global increases in temperature to “well below 2C  and to pursue 1.5C”.

Globally the wealthiest 10% are responsible for half of all emissions, the wealthiest 20% for 70% of emissions.

If regulations forced the top 10% to cut their emissions to the level of the average EU citizen, and the other 90% made no change in their lifestyles, that would still cut total emissions by a third.

🇪🇺 The European Parliament considers implementing their own version of the Great Firewall of China.

🇪🇺 Also the E.U. will bar most travelers from the U.S., Russia and Brazil, which have been excluded from a list of countries deemed to have curbed the coronavirus.

🇪🇺 Looking to start or join a company in Europe? Here's a spreadsheet of 40+ European visas for tech founders and employees.

Btw, ICYMI - the US suspended H1-B visa applications through the end of the year.

🇪🇺 American whiskey distillers lost more than $300 million in export revenue due to trade disputes between the U.S. and the EU.

🇩🇪 The astonishing rise of Angela Merkel, the most powerful woman in the world.

🇪🇺 How Europe can dominate the next decade of tech

Reading this about the current EU startup landscape and imagining it 5 years down the road, an evident missing piece is a platform that could provide guidance, benchmarks and role models for wannabe founders across Europe. An educational pillar of sort, providing a common denominator for founders from 27 different countries.

The balance is not at equilibrium - corporate vs. startup world, old money vs. new money, traditional media vs. new media, schools vs. <insert the future here>.

Training people for taking risks at scale requires a large talent pool able to network, learn from the best and from each other and move fast.

In Europe we have hundreds of useless startup accelerators, an outdated educational system and a young customer base, tech savvy and hungry to create, with English as their default language learnt via Roblox, Minecraft and the likes.

Who is going to build a suitable system for those guys looking to find models, mentors and a fertile ground for building stuff?

Who is going to teach them that it is ok to fail, still a stigma across the entire Europe.

Is it a business opportunity at all? An EU thing? Something schools should do? An incumbent?

Is it going to happen at all or we will all end up using Startup School, which looks very well positioned to become the Harvard for startups.

🇪🇺 Meanwhile here is a very meta thread, discussing why Europeans don’t have enough discussions about the European startup ecosystem. You get it? You know, like dudes in Silicon Valley do. :D

This simply indicates that perhaps there is a higher need of more media outlets aggregating a very fragmented European ecosystem of opinions and reflecting real work done by entrepreneurs.

Is the today’s Euro startup media output enough? Assuming the Euro startup world increases 3-5x in the next 5 to 10 years, shouldn’t the media covering it grow at a similar pace? Who is going to aggregate the new new media?

Yes, lots of questions to add to the discussion. Hussein puts it very well:

There are those who talk about what should happen and there are those who go on and make it happen. If anything Europe has too many of the former, and too few of the latter.


💰More money in the market

🇳🇱 BioGeneration Ventures (BGV), an early-stage VC in European biotech, has closed its 4th fund at €105 million.

🇬🇧 Epidarex Capital, a transatlantic life science venture firm, closed Epidarex Capital III UK LP, at £102.1 million.

🇬🇧 Connect Ventures announced its 3rd fund at €71 million to invest in purpose-led founders.

🇺🇸 Amazon Announces $2 Billion Climate Pledge Fund to Invest in Companies Building Products, Services, and Technologies to Decarbonize the Economy and Protect the Planet

🇸🇪 Martin Witt has been appointed as Vice President and Head of Volvo Group Venture Capital, based in Göteborg.

He comes after being an MD at Accenture for 3 years - the very Accenture that has been very active in the Euro M&A market in the past couple of years.

💵 Interesting bets

🇫🇷 €70 million | corporate lunch card and benefits app | Index Ventures

🇭🇺 $20 million | driver-assistance and self-driving car software | Lead Ventures

🇦🇹 €8.3 million | online tutoring platform | Left Lane Capital, DN Capital

🇳🇱 €7.8 million | AI-based system that allows dairy farmers to monitor their herds | ADM Capital

🇨🇭 €6 million | PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) software developers | Encavis AG, RP Global

🇫🇷 €2.5 million | video streaming solution developer | Elaia, Go Capital

🇮🇹 €2.5 million | alcohol ecommerce & delivery | Intesa Sanpaolo

🇮🇪 €2 million | transport data company for bus networks | Irelandia Investments, Act Venture Capital

🇬🇧 £1.1 million | online toolkit for surviving modern alcohol-free society

🇳🇴 new media business | Schibsted


🗣️ Observations

  • Unilever says it will halt U.S. advertising on Facebook and Twitter for at least the remainder of 2020, citing divisive content on the platforms.

    It is not the only one as it joins some other 90 brands such as Coca Cola, Levi’s, Dockers, North Face, Ben & Jerrys, Verizon etc.

    Two things:

    1. Financially Facebook is not too affected as the bulk of its money comes from circa 8 million small businesses spenders while the top 100 advertisers bring in less than 20% of revenues.

    Also notable, in 2017-2019 YT had the same problem and came out ok.

    2. But this puts pressure on Facebook, as this doesn't have only a monetary impact but also a product one, and Facebook’s reaction looks really defensive. They keep saying they will change and become better at doing their business, just like a broken record - if you know how media works and still believe an iota from what FB says, it’s on you.

    Also interesting to think about timing i.e. whether in times of economic boom big brands would have done the same - these days the consumer demand is pretty weak anyways as the economy is bad.

  • Meanwhile in the Google land, they announced they will start paying publishers for news.

    This has nothing to do with Google’s DNA and the way they do business. My guess is that it’s a legal tactic with business consequences emerged from the chess game with the regulators breathing down Google’s neck.

    The company has already signed deals with a number of publishers in Germany, Brazil, and Australia and included Spiegel Group in the PR spiel. Does Google finally admit that now it is a media company?

  • Amazon acquired Zoox, a California-based company working to design autonomous ride-hailing vehicles from the ground up. $1bn.

  • Microsoft killed Mixer livestreaming service, which was competing with Twitch.
    Tencent is launching Trovo, a Twitch-like streaming service, in the US.

  • Microsoft also killed its 83 retail stores, which were launched 10 years ago in the Ballmer era to specifically mimic Apple’s ones. Remember Zune, btw?

  • Just what is Tencent’s Endgame? (good overview of their business)

  • Superhuman’s email app is overhyped and overpriced (yes)

  • Goldman Sachs releases the font Goldman Sans. Because why not.

  • The most successful and ambitious mapping project of all time, Google Maps, is an advertising platform. There is no “geospatial industry,” only industries with spatial problems. thread

  • Bill Ackman, a billionaire investor, announced a new blank-check company that will invest in “Mature Unicorns.” 

  • Carta launched a SAFE and convertible note calculator, very useful.

  • Kanye will design basic apparel for men, women and kids over at Gap (yes, that Kanye)

  • Best 2020 sneakers so far

  • Used Car Prices Hit a Record During a Pandemic. Yes, you read that right.
    One of the reasons for which UK’s Cazoo is an unicorn nowadays.

  • 👁👄👁 - the new Silicon Valley meme decomposed.

🗞️ Interesting reads

Have a nice summer!

Thanks for reading 🙌

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