VC Signalling Risk in Seed Rounds

 CB Insights  just published an interesting post about signalling risk i.e. the startup survival risk generated by getting a Tier I VC into the seed round who does not follow their money into the Series A. The data suggests getting no support from a brand name on your next round decreases you overall chance of getting financed (these conditional probabilities are a bit doubtful given the clear correlation between these events). As usual, however, statistics only tell part of the story and hide a more complex reality.
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VC's do seeds for a reason It's worth reminding everyone that investors commit limited amount of money in seed rounds for a reason, and that is to manage their capital at risk; in other words, to have the option to not follow their initial money in a promising but fundamentally unproven project. The arguments between VC's in this regard center around
Top vcs seed re investment rate v2
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Pillpack: Adding $50M in funding to bring redesigned pharmacy to all

There are some people in the world that it is simply a joy to work with, and when good things happened to them you can only feel joy.  TJ Parker and Elliott Cohen are two such people and I'm delighted with the new milestone our company Pillpack has reached.  $50 Million in New Funding  Pillpack just announced a $50M round led by George Zachary (of Twitter and Yammer fame) and Rafael Corrales at CRV with new money from Pravin Vazirani and Tylor Sosin at Menlo Ventures (another awesome duo) and Shervin Pishevar at Sherpa Ventures (with a fashionably minimalist website :-)).  Accel Partners is also participating meaningfully to the round. Pillpack signing Term-sheet Yes this his how this stuff gets done - Exhausted but happy TJ and Elliott (behind camera) with George and Rafa signing the term-sheet It's not so much that raising a big round in itself makes me happy (though Continue reading "Pillpack: Adding $50M in funding to bring redesigned pharmacy to all"

Developing London tech clusters beyond Shoreditch: Croydon ?

 Here in London we're all very proud of the progress made over the last few years.  Having come back from 4 years in Boston, I have been surprised by the level of maturity that we have achieved and how far we have come.  

But London is a city of 9 million and our efforts and mindshare right now are still very much focused around Mayfair, Soho, City and the City Fringes.  The question is: how do we successfully take innovation into Dalston, Hammersmith or even Croydon?

London Rising

Perhaps the fast and furious progress London has made is best highlighted by the following data in the recent trade mission led by Mayor Boris Johnson (in collaboration with London &Partners):

Cytokinesis at Atlas Venture: bio and tech take off

Atlas Venture announced at his latest annual meeting that the biotech and tech groups were going their own way.  Since I did spend ten years there, let me give you my view on it.

Aligned, yet different

The two groups had a ton in common.  Both are laser focused on early stage and have espoused a model of being super capital efficient and lean early and supporting hard and fast scaling once companies show promise.  

Both groups have been innovating for a few years now in adapting fast to changing market conditions, with biotech showing the way in "asset light" and virtual companies and the tech group in pushing a high-velocity seed approach and more recently spearheading the development of Angellist Syndicates in Boston.

But as these strategies indicate, the rapid market evolution especially in tech meant the models were rapidly drifting further apart.  Whilst the biotech guys would Continue reading "Cytokinesis at Atlas Venture: bio and tech take off"

Zoopla at seven – how focus and speed drive exceptional outcomes

 I first invested in Zoopla in July 2007.  At the time, a mere £500,000 to get the company going and back Simon Kain and Alex Chesterman in improving the real estate experience.

Last week, almost exactly 7 years after this first investment, Zoopla released its last set of numbers:  40 million monthly visits,  six-months revenues of £38.8 million and a profit margin that is flirting with 50%.

As I left the last board meeting, I marvelled about how this management team had taken the business so far and so fast; this is not so much as statement about the top line as a statement about having built a sustainable, robust, profitable and extremely well run machine in such an incredibly capital efficient manner (the company only ever took cash from Atlas and Octopus and a few angels, and not that much of it).

Zoopla was launched in 2008 with

zoopla reception
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The Boston Surprise

 Now that I am leaving Boston I can talk about its startup ecosystem in all candor.  

When I came over 4 years ago, it was essentially as an act of belief in my partner Jeff and in myself. To be frank, I did not expect much. Talk was of dreary winters and a boring town full of boring VCs with not much happening. For that was the perception of the region from afar.

I could not have been more wrong. I am starting to measure the progress that was made in the last four years, too.

When Oculus VR was sold recently, I know many people were surprised to hear Boston mentioned in connection with the company. Surprised to see the smiling face of Matrix Partners’ Antonio Rodriguez sporting an early prototype next to the press articles. I think most people assumed the company was based in California

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