Wij willen met u aan tafel zitten en in een openhartig gesprek uitvinden welke uitdagingen en vragen er bij u spelen om zo, gezamelijk, tot een beste oplossing te komen. Oftewel, hoe kan de techniek u ondersteunen in plaats van dat u de techniek moet ondersteunen.

Pale Blue Dot, a newly outed European venture capital firm focused on climate tech, announced this week the first closing of its debut fund at €53 million.

Targeting pre-seed and seed stage startups, the firm says it will consider software and technology investments with a strong positive climate impact. Current areas of focus include food/agriculture, industry, fashion/apparel, energy and transportation, with plans to back up to 40 companies out of fund one.

Founding partners Hampus Jakobsson, Heidi Lindvall and Joel Larsson are stalwarts of the Nordic tech ecosystem and beyond: Jakobsson co-founded TAT (The Astonishing Tribe), which was sold to Blackberry in 2012, and is a prominent angel investor in Europe, most recently a venture partner at BlueYard Capital . Lindvall is the former head of accelerator and investment team at Fast Track Malmö, with a background in human rights and media. Larsson was previously managing director at Fast Track Malmö, with a technical background and prior fund management experience.

I put questions to all three, delving deeper into Pale Blue Dot’s remit and the firm’s investment thesis. We also discussed the macro trends that warrant a fund specializing in climate tech and why Europe is poised to become a leader in the space.

Pale Blue Dot is a new VC fund specializing in climate tech, but in a sense — and to varying degrees — isn’t every venture capital fund a climate tech fund these days?

Heidi Lindvall: We think all funds should be “planet-positive” and working for a better world, but it will take time until it is a focus. Still, most funds look at a potential positive impact late in their assessment and will not decline the deal if the startups wouldn’t be significantly pulling the world in a good direction.

Hampus Jakobsson: Focus has both upsides and downsides.

The negative part with being niche is that we won’t do investments in amazing people or startups that we don’t think are “climate-contributing enough” or that the founders aren’t doing it in a genuine way (as the risk of them to paying attention to the impact might lead them to become a noncontributing company).


TechCrunch

French VC firm Idinvest has compiled some data about the European tech ecosystem. The firm has decided to focus on consumer tech in general, and there are some interesting trends that I’m going to break out here. You can read the full report here.

The team has analyzed and surveyed 1,500 companies over multiple months. And Idinvest has identified rising stars in multiple different verticals, such as fintech, mobility, healthcare or travel. If a startup has raised more than €100 million or has been acquired, Idinvest considers them as giants already.

Lesson #1: VC funding is growing at a faster pace in Europe than in the rest of the world

Notice that jump from €4.4 billion in 2014 to €16.6 billion in 2019.

Lesson #2: The European fintech boom is real

Fintech is now the largest vertical in Europe. On average, European startups attract 16% of global VC investments. But Europe is grabbing a bigger piece of that pie with fintech as European fintech startups have attracted 26% of total VC investments in that space.

And it’s not just challenger banks, such as N26, Monzo or Revolut. There are trading startups, lending startups, API-driven companies and more.

Lesson #3: Mobility is fragmented

While mobility is a huge vertical in Europe, there are countless of players that do more or less the same thing — multiple scooter startups (Voi, Dott, Tier…), multiples ride-hailing startups (Bolt, Heetch, FreeNow, Cabify…), etc.

Some of them are thriving, but you’re not going to see any of the big names you’d expect in the list of giants as those companies are not European — Uber, Didi, Bird… In other words, Europe is mostly a fast follower in this space, and it’s been working fairly well.

Lesson #4: Health is regulated as hell

This isn’t surprising, but European healthcare startups seem to be mostly active in Europe. Similarly, American healthcare startups don’t seem to have a huge presence in Europe.

I personally think European healthcare startups have a shot at becoming global leaders for two reasons. First, it’s a privacy-sensitive industry and European startups tend to care more about privacy due to the legal framework. Second, the tech lash against big tech companies, such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, is going to be particularly strong with healthcare products.

Lesson #5: Food startups could reshape cities

Let me quote Idinvest’s report directly here because it is spot on: “In the Middle-Age, posting houses became inns to feed and offer rest to travelers. In the 20th century, McDonald’s restaurants grew exponentially around the U.S. road infrastructure. In the past 18-24 months, we have seen the rise of dark kitchens (Keatz, Taster) and dark groceries (Glovo) which are both piggybacking this new food delivery infrastructure and adding to it a real estate layer. Dark kitchens and groceries are selling products exclusively through delivery. The customer facing location of a restaurant or a grocery shop is replaced by a cheaper real estate location optimized for order preparations.”

Lesson #6: Travel is a bigger industry in Europe than in the U.S.

Tourists spend more money in Europe than in the U.S. Given that many travel startups start with a simple marketplace to improve liquidity, pricing, listings, discovery or open up a whole new segment, it makes sense to start it from Europe.

Lesson #7: Gaming is big in Europe

Gaming, and in particular mobile gaming, has been thriving in Europe. Many casual games have emerged from European startups. There’s no European Netflix, but Minecraft, Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds were all born in Europe.

All the rest

Idinvest’s report covers other verticals but I don’t have much to add. I’m just going to share the mapping of those verticals and you can read the report if you want to dig deeper.


TechCrunch

Disney+, the streaming service from the Walt Disney Company, has been rapidly ramping up in the last several weeks. But while some of that expansion has seen some hiccups, other regions are basically on track. Today, as expected, Disney announced that it is officially launching in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Switzerland; it also reconfirmed the delayed debut in France will be coming online on April 7.

Seven is the operative number here, it seems: it’s the largest multi-country launch so far for the service.

“Launching in seven markets simultaneously marks a new milestone for Disney+,“ said Kevin Mayer, Chairman of Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International, in a statement. “As the streaming home for Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic, Disney+ delivers high-quality, optimistic storytelling that fans expect from our brands, now available broadly, conveniently, and permanently on Disney+. We humbly hope that this service can bring some much-needed moments of respite for families during these difficult times.”

Pricing is £5.99/€6.99 per month, or £59.99/€69.99 for an annual subscription. Belgium, the Nordics, and Portugal, will follow in summer 2020.

The service being rolled out will feature 26 Disney+ Originals plus an “extensive collection” of titles (some 500 films, 26 exclusive original movies and series and thousands of TV episodes to start with) from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and other content producers owned by the entertainment giant, in what has been one of the boldest moves yet from a content company to go head-to-head with OTT streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Apple.

The expansion of Disney+ has been caught a bit in the crossfire of world events. The new service is launching at what has become an unprecedented time for streaming: because of the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of of the world is being told to stay home.

That means huge demand for new services to entertain and distract people who are now sheltering in place. But it has also been putting a huge strain on broadband networks, and to be a responsible streamer (and to make sure quality is not too impacted), Disney confirmed (as it previously said it would) it would be launching the service with “lower overall bandwidth utilization by at least 25%.

Titles in the mix debuting today include “The Mandalorian” live-action Star Wars series; a live-action “Lady and the Tramp,” “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,”; “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” docuseries from National Geographic; “Marvel’s Hero Project,” which celebrates extraordinary kids making a difference in their communities; “Encore!,” executive produced by the multi-talented Kristen Bell; “The Imagineering Story” a 6-part documentary from Emmy and Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Leslie Iwerks and animated short film collections “SparkShorts” and “Forky Asks A Question” from Pixar Animation Studios.

Some 600 episodes of “The Simpsons” is also included (with the latest season 31 coming later this year).

With entire households now being told to stay together and stay inside, we’re seeing a huge amount of pressure being put on to broadband networks and a true test of the multiscreen approach that streaming services have been building over the years. In this case, you can use all the usuals: mobile phones, streaming media players, smart TVs and gaming consoles to watch the Disney+ service (including Amazon devices, Apple devices, Google devices, LG Smart TVs with webOS, Microsoft’s Xbox Ones, Roku, Samsung Smart TVs and Sony / Sony Interactive Entertainment, with the ability to use four concurrent streams per subscription, or up to 10 devices with unlimited downloads. As you would expect, there is also the ability to set up parental controls and individual profiles.

Carriers with paid-TV services that are also on board so far include Deutsche Telekom, O2 in the UK, Telefonica in Spain, TIM in Italy and Canal+ in France when the country comes online. No BT in the UK, which is too bad for me (sniff). Sky and NOW TV are also on board.


TechCrunch

Project A, the Berlin-based VC, just raised a new $ 200 million fund (€180 million) to continue backing European startups at Seed and Series A stage.

In addition, the firm — whose investments include WorldRemit, Catawiki, Voi and Uberall — announced it will now have a presence in London and Stockholm in order to put people on the ground in what it says are “two of its favorite ecosystems.”

What better time, therefore, to catch up with the team at Project A, where we talked investment thesis, why Stockholm and London, and the increasing interest in Europe from U.S. LPs and VCs. Other subjects we touched on include diversity in venture, and, of course, Brexit!

TechCrunch: You last raised a fund in 2016, totaling €140 million, what changes have you noticed since then with regards to the types of companies you are seeing and the European ecosystem as a whole?

Uwe Horstmann: Entrepreneurs definitely matured a lot over the last few years. We see more and more of serial founders who combine drive with experience delivering great results. We also noticed an increase in more tech / product-centric and in B2B models.

This doesn’t come as a surprise as the market for consumer-oriented models started developing much earlier and is now reaching its limits after a few years. Many entrepreneurs gained experience in the Old Economy or have been consulting companies for a few years, learned about the struggle with products and processes first-hand and developed solutions specifically tailored to the industry’s needs.

We also notice a rise in professionalism in company setups and a higher ambition level in founding teams. This is probably also due to a more professional angel and micro fund scene that has developed in Europe.

TC: I note that you have U.S. LPs in the new fund, which I think is a first for Project A, and more broadly we are seeing a lot more interest from U.S. VCs in Europe these days. Why do you think that is, and how does this change the competitive landscape for deal-flow and the ambition of European founders?

Thies Sander: Having our first U.S. LPs on board makes us proud. LPs have noticed that European VC returns have really picked up during recent fund cohorts.


TechCrunch

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