Until now General Catalyst has been better known as a U.S. VC that makes occasional forays into European territory. But that changes with the news today that Chris Bischoff, an experienced London-based investor, joins as managing director of its new London office.
Bischoff brings with him an extensive track record of investment across the U.S. and Europe, participating in the fundraising for Avito, Babylon, Betterment, Cedar, VillageMD, Livongo and Cityblock Health, among others. He joins from the role of senior investment director at venture and growth fund Kinnevik AB, where he led several investments, most notably in the healthcare realm but also participated in deals alongside General Catalyst in companies such as Livongo (now Teladoc, NYSE: TDOC) and Cityblock.
In a statement, Bischoff said: “I’ve known and greatly admired GC for many years and have successfully partnered with the team on multiple occasions. I am strongly aligned with their purpose, approach, and culture, so this is a natural step.”
General Catalyst is no stranger to Europe, having invested most recently in British used-car startup Cazoo, fintech as a service company Rapyd and Remote.com, a platform for managing remote workforces. It’s also an investor in Bloom & Wild, and most recently it led a $44 million Series B funding into Multiverse, founded by Euan Blair (former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s eldest son). It’s also a long-time investor in food delivery startup Deliveroo.
Last year it secured $2.3 billion in capital commitments across three funds: a $600 million early-stage fund, a $1 billion growth fund for companies with $10 million-plus in annual revenue and a $700 million “endurance fund” to back large companies doing more than $100 million in sales.
In a statement, Hemant Taneja, managing partner, General Catalyst said: “Having invested alongside and worked with Chris as a fellow director, I know firsthand that he shares our commitment to backing and building enduring companies with the potential to materially improve the lives of many.”
Bischoff will be adding to the firm’s bench of healthcare investors, given its involvement in Livongo, Cityblock, Oscar, Color and Ro Health, among others.
General Catalyst accelerated its interest in European and Israeli tech companies when managing director Adam Valkin joined from Accel Partners in London, bringing with him plenty of European savvy.
Valkin and Bischoff will run the deals in Europe and Israel, and no doubt more efficiently, now that GC has Bischoff with his feet under a desk in London, even if for the time being that will be a home office desk.
Valkin said: “Europe and Israel have unequivocally become major centers for global-scale innovation, and having Chris on the ground here is a huge asset for our firm. I have known Chris for many years and have observed his talent as an investor, his outstanding portfolio, and importantly, his reputation as a trusted partner for ambitious founders.”
At Accel, Valkin led investments in Gocardless, Flywire, Fiverr and Spotify, and then joined General Catalyst in 2013 to build out the New York office.
In an interview, he told me: “In 2015 GC started looking into Europe in a more serious way… perhaps a little bit more opportunistically at that point. We invested in a number of European companies like Brainly in Poland and Fundbox in Israel. And then 2016 was sort of a big year for us because we led both a Series A of Lemonade out in Israel, and a growth round and Deliveroo in the U.K.”
He said GC decided to get a little bit more organised about Europe, and spent a lot more time with founders there, gradually ramping up its activity. “So, our European journey essentially began, five, six years ago. And we’ve become very active there, both in the U.K. in Europe as well as Israel. The big question for us was when would it make sense to have a team on the ground. And we actually got to know Chris about five years ago, in the context of what we were doing in Europe, and also just as a really important growth-stage investor in Europe.”
Bischoff added: “If you look at what GC has done in Europe, it really is across both consumer and enterprise, and across the sector. I’ve done quite a bit in healthcare, obviously, a bit in fintech and consumer, which are pretty large sectors in Europe… it’s not narrowly focused in Europe. The intention is to bring the full set of GC’s capabilities to Europe, and across sectors.”