European tech investing is "coming of age"

It’s mildly diverting when some people, like Business Week reporters, say that Europe is still a slow place for technology startups, then pat us on the head and tell us that every day, in every way, we’re getting better and better. But it’s more interesting when people who really are at the heart of the sector pull all the threads together and come up with some cogent arguments.

Max Bleyleben of Kennet Partners, a London-based growth equity investor in technology companies in Europe and the US, has posted a great argument that European tech investing is “coming of age”. Indeed, he says Index Capital’s Giuseppe Zocco “has a thesis that there is a crop of sucessful VC-backed startups in Europe that would normally sell out early, but could in fact become global market leaders given the right backing.” It’s important that Index Ventures have closing their €400m growth equity fund. And there are new funds now from Carlyle, Fidelity Ventures and Wellington among others. He says “this is the strongest sign yet that European tech investing is coming of age.”

“European tech companies of the past 5 years – like MySQL, Cramer Systems, Cartesis, Qliktech, FRSGLobal, Smartstream, DocMorris, Trema, Ion Trading have proven that it’s possible to build financially and operationally successful market leaders from Europe. Now, less than 15 years after venture capital set root in Europe, we have specialised investor capital available for each stage of a company’s development: seed (eg Samwer brothers, Howzat – [and I would add Seedcamp – Ed] ) – startup & expansion (Spark, Amadeus, Advent, Sofinnova, Iris, et al) – growth equity (Kennet, Index) – buyout (HgCapital, General Atlantic, Hellman & Friedman). This maturation of the industry is good news for European entrepreneurs, and for the European economies that benefit from their successes.”

Well said. Now, of course, cynics might argue that many of the above companies having nothing to do with Web 2.0 or Mobile 2.0 – however, it’s really the building blocks for investment that are important here. Now it’s up to the companies.

The upcoming Plugg Conference on March 19th in Brussels (which has a Startup Rally) as well as LIFT in Geneva (Feb 6-8), which features a Venture Night is in a good position to showcase Europe’s best. And let’s not forget LeWeb3 at the end of the year, or Picnic, FOWA London, NMK, Chinwag, 3GSM, Thinking Digital, The Next Web, Being Digital/MashupDemo, IT@Cork, xCellerate, TechLudd, Sicilia 2.0, Web 2.0 Berlin, DLD (See Michael’s coverage), all the various European Barcamp/VentureCamp events,… the list of events and connections being made across Europe, old and new, goes on.