Waterhouse Jumps Wellington’s Ship To Boost Balderton’s Early Stage Activity

Following recent changes at DFJ Esprit, Forward Ventures, and Index Ventures, today sees another change in European VC personnel. Long-time partner Daniel Waterhouse has left Wellington Partners to join Balderton Capital as a General Partner, where he’ll be based in London focussing on early stage investments in the software and internet sectors.

During his time at Wellington, Waterhouse is said to have led 11 investments in total, those including well-known startups such as Hailo, YPlan, SumAll, EyeEm and Qype (sold to Yelp), so on the surface this looks like a potential coup for Balderton. It also comes at a time when the European VC firm is understood to be continuing its efforts to raise a new fund.

Balderton’s last fund — Fund IV — closed in 2009 at just over $480m, though the VC won’t say how much of that fund remains.

In terms of recent investment activity, it’s made 13 investments in the last 12 months, with all but one being a European startup. In terms of investment size, we count these as five A rounds, two C rounds, one follow-on round, three Seed rounds, and two undisclosed rounds. Companies backed in the last year include QuBit, Rentify, HouseTrip, 3D Hubs, TicTail and Opbeat.

However, some sources say Balderton has only enough left in the pot to do Seed rounds, and is in urgent need of its new fund. LPs have proved hard to attract in current circumstances.

It is known to be raising a new fund, but this has been ongoing for as much as a year now, and the fund has yet to close. A hire like Waterhouse certainly seems designed to send out the right signal and may well help with its fund raising process amongst Limited Partners. Might it even indicate that Balderton has raised its fund and is poised to announce it? Who knows.

That said, we understand their internal recruiter has actually been looking for two – not one – new partners throughout this year. During this time Balderton’s reputation as an early stage and series A/B VC has had to be carried mostly by one partner, Roberto Bonanzinga.

But despite these issues, Balderton is sitting on some potentially very large exits, not least of which is Wonga, which is looking like one of the rare ‘billion’ exits to come out of the UK, when eventually it does have a liquidity event, whether IPO or sale.

Waterhouse’s move is a loss – though not quite a body blow – to Wellington Partners, where Waterhouse is a well-known and liked figure amongst tech entrepreneurs.

Before joining Wellington, Waterhouse, aged 42, was a partner at 3i where he is said to have worked on all of the firm’s venture and private equity investments in the internet sector in North America and Europe. Prior to that, he was at Yahoo! for six years from 1999, covering strategic development and M&A across the European region. He also holds a PhD and MA in applied mathematics from Oxford University and a Chartered Diploma in Accounting and Finance.

In a statement commenting on Waterhouse’s appointment, Bernard Liautaud, general partner at Balderton, said: “We are delighted to welcome Daniel to Balderton Capital. His many years’ experience investing in some of Europe’s most successful technology businesses will be a great asset to our existing portfolio. He is a great match with our firm thanks to his expertise in early-stage investing and in nurturing the next generation of European entrepreneurs.”

As noted, Waterhouse’s move from Wellington to Balderton follows a spate of VC musical chairs in the London/European VC scene. Most recently, Gil Dibner moved from Index Ventures to join DFJ Esprit as Partner to focus on enterprise companies.

Just a few months before that, DFJ Esprit promoted Associate Scott Sage to full VC Partner. At the same time it lost long-standing Partner Nic Brisbourne who joined Forward Investment Partners, the venture capital arm of Forward Internet Group. This was to help it “double-down” in terms of the number of investments it plans to make, and in how it supports the startups in its portfolio and the ‘founders in residence’ coming through its startup foundry Forward Labs.