Atomico VC Opens Tokyo Office — Is The U.S. Just Too Hot Right Now?

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Atomico, the technology investment firm founded by Niklas Zennström (a co-founder of Skype) has been deploying its funds in Europe for some time now, and most recently Zennström was taking an interest in Brazil. Indeed, Atomico has an office there. But for whatever reason he’s decided to lead the fund next into Japan, with the appointment today of Shinichi Iwata, former President of Skype Japan, to head up Atomic’s new Tokyo office.

Japan adds to Atomico’s increasingly global outlook, which has seen it grow from a single London HQ a few years ago to having offices in São Paulo, Beijing and Istanbul, and now also Tokyo. After making 50 investments on four continents, this globalised view obviously makes sense. Some of Atomico’s investments to date include Rovio, Jawbone, FON, Klarna and of course Skype. But more recently China-based gaming startup Cmune and London Taxi app Hailo.

In a statement Zennström said “Having been in the [Japanese] market for a number of years, we’ve seen increased interest and activity with portfolio companies entering Japan.”

We reached out to Atomico to ask if their increasingly global outlook feels like a move away from Europe, but we’ve yet to get a response.

Suffice it to say that the rest of the world looks far more enticing right now than the U.S. where the white-heat of the technology world means competition is high, valuations are high, salaries are crazy and it’s an all-out warfare scenario. Perhaps there are easier pickings abroad?

Certainly we’ve heard on the grapevine from well-placed sources that Atomico’s Rdio streaming music investment, which competes with a now rampant Spotify, is struggling to raise another round and the founders are getting itchy feet. Perhaps evidence of this desperation is its latest radical pivot.

So it’s at times like this, you tend to hear the phrase, Go East My Son!