This past week I was in Brussels for the inaugural Plugg conference - http://www.plugg.eu/ - billed as a European Perspective on Web 2.0. The 20 start-ups in the Start-up Rally were excellent, and you could have put these European entrepreneurs up against any of their British or American counterparts in terms of their ability to present, be funny on stage, have a good idea, and come across as credible. Max Niederhofer of Atlas, an angel investor in last.fm, gave a great presentation on gaming and virtual worlds. I sent off Paul Flanagan’s Real Life presentation to him for his review. Max is an Associate at Atlas Venture, one of Europe’s leading VC firms. Overall, as I boarded the Eurostar home, I thought if this is representative of the up and coming ranks of the VCs in Europe as well as the next batch of European entrepreneurs with the CEO of NetLog discussing privacy with Matt Colebourne, the CEO of CoComment – then we don’t have any reason to feel bad about the state of entrepreneurship and its financing in Europe – lots of energy, brilliance, imagination and drive in high abundance. I’m used to everyone being and coming to London, so Plugg was more of a European event, and will give Red Herring a run for its money.
I spoke on an investor panel alongside Paul Fisher of Advent, the Seedcamp MD and a Belgian VC – Mike Butcher of Tech Crunch was moderating. The highlight of the day though was that I was mistaken for a French woman. Not bad for an American woman!
SpinVox announced its £50 m capital raise this past week which is a phenomenal feat given the market. Christina Domecq, 31, is now running a US/UK start-up valued in excess of $500 m. This will be the next major supernova exit out of Europe. http://www.reuters.com/article/fundsFundsNews/idUSN1932303420080319 Many mobile data ap companies showing at Plugg, and the move to bundles of mobile data for/from the operators is going to make this market open up.
We got our first Journal of 2008 out on Thursday. http://www.ariadnecapital.com/journal/v7e1/ - our Journal database is now nearly 50,000 strong. This week I ran into Nicolas Rose now at XAnge Private Equity in Paris – www.xange.fr – who I first met years ago when he was at Hambrecht & Quist, and had lunch with Tim Horlick, of Frontiers Capital, an example of banker turned VC, where it seems to be working out! - http://www.frontierscapital.com/x/investmentTeam.html
Interesting companies seen this week include:
- Sightspeed – a video-first skype-like service
- Rummble – a recommendation engine via your phone – still playing around with it so can’t say yet
Eureka Finanzas – the first no-underwritten mortgage lender – again still learning about it, but Laurent Azar knew the space, and he was credible
Hard to believe that Easter is here already – and what a cold one it is