To start off our annual European conference, we brought the new Google Ventures Europe partners onstage at Disrupt Europe in London. The panel was mostly focused on explaining Google Ventures’ investment strategy for its European arm. In particular, Google Ventures will employ the same operational strategy as in the U.S., and will be looking for co-investors for most of its deals.
“In the U.S., over the last four or five years, over a hundred startups have received time from the Google Ventures design team,” Peter Read said. This was just an example on the design front, but Google Ventures have many different teams in the U.S.
While Google Ventures Europe won’t have the same resources as its Californian counterpart, partners agreed that it was Google Ventures’ key comparative advantage compared to existing European VCs. “What differentiates us is our operational services and the Google resources,” Avid Larizadeh said.
As a reminder, Google Ventures Europe has an initial fund of $100 million to invest in the best European startups. There is no particular focus on consumer or enterprise stuff. It’s all about backing the best teams directly from London and bringing the Google Ventures way of doing things in Europe. But $100 million seems small compared to Google Ventures’ funds in the U.S.
“Look at the history of the U.S. It started out as much smaller funds,” MG Siegler said. “We will be opportunistic. There is a lot of activity in the very early stage side of things, maybe we will do something there, maybe it’s too busy.”
As we already knew, Tom Hulme, Avid Larizadeh, Peter Read, and Eze Vidra were the four general partners operating out of London. Former TechCrunch writer MG Siegler was supposed to join the rest of the team for a short period of time “to serve as a liaison between the U.S. and European operations,” a spokesperson told us at the time. It seems like Siegler’s move might be a little bit longer than expected — he doesn’t have any fixed timeline to come back to the U.S.
“I think it’s sort of an open-ended question, it’s up to me, it’s up to the team here. It depends on what we are doing here,” Siegler said.
While Siegler had been working for Google Ventures in the U.S., the other European general partners have been active on their own in the European tech ecosystem and are bringing this experience to Google Ventures. “None of us would have been here if Google Ventures didn’t think that we bring something special to the table,” Eze Vidra said. “We didn’t want to create a minor league team,” Siegler said.
When it comes to geographical focus, the team is based in London but will be looking for startups all over Europe. “We are not focusing in any one country in particular. Innovation is truly global,” Eze Vidra said.
And finally, partners said multiple times that they were looking forward to working with co-investors. “80 percent of the Google Ventures deals in the U.S. are with co-investors, and we want to do the same thing here,” Read said.
In other words, Google Ventures doesn’t want to fight with the existing players of the European tech ecosystem. Instead, it wants to partner with them, add value to both startups and co-investors, and of course generate significant return on investment.