$500 million GV gears up for more deals in Europe with new London partner Luna Dai Schmid • TechCrunch

Startups are raising less and less often right now, and some portfolios are caving under the weight of writedowns due to lower valuations and startup closures. But the venture capital industry continues to swim, and a number of companies are gearing up to invest more, even as we navigate the down cycle.

In the latest turn of this dial, GV, Google’s parent Alphabet-backed VC, announces a new partner for its London office, Luna (Dai) Schmid, along with the news that it has reached an important milestone in its efforts. in Europe, with $500 million invested in some 40 startups in the region since they opened in 2014. European companies in its portfolio include GoCardless, Nothing, Snyk, Scandit, Vaccitech, Lemonade and CurrencyCloud, and from what we We know he will announce more in the coming month, with several deals already signed since the start of this year.

The figure and appointment are significant changes for the firm and the London office.

Dai (who will soon go by Luna Schmid, we understand) joins as an investment partner, working alongside Tom Hulme – one of the founders of the GV London office – and Vidu Shanmugarajah, who has quietly become a partner in investment after initially becoming his legal adviser.

After years of Tom Hulme as the sole face and partner of GV outside of London, it looks like the company is ready to invest a bit more in itself.

Dai’s appointment is an interesting bet for GV, as well as a new frontier for Dai herself. She has never lived in Europe before, nor been involved in startups in what can sometimes feel like a very clubby atmosphere (Old World, Old School, etc.).

Most recently, Dai worked as a vice president in the Menlo Park office of Summit, a company better known for large private equity and later-stage deals than the kind of early-stage investment GV has done in Europe. .

Previously, Dai was a vice president at SoftBank Investment Advisors, where she worked from 2018 to 2020. Those dates put her right in the middle of the company’s most heady investing period, swimming in the nearly $100 billion dollars raised for Vision Fund 1 which saw the company invest an average of $100 million per day between the fund closing and the money being raised. Dai was a bit under the radar at Softbank, which probably isn’t a bad thing in retrospect.

All of this basically means blank slate for Dai (which will soon go through Schmid) at GV. She tells me that some of the areas she wants to focus on are enterprise and fintech, two categories that have a long and successful track record outside of Europe, and potentially have recession-proof qualities. . In business, she is interested in productivity software, especially tools built around automation and AI that could prove useful in today’s environment.

“We’ve all seen the headlines… about layoffs at every level,” she said in an interview. “Companies need to do more with fewer people. I think that’s going to translate to an increase in productivity software. »

And while much of the buzz right now seems to be focused on AI, and in particular generative AI-based services and technologies, Dai also thinks there’s an opportunity to invest more. pragmatic in startups focused on working behind the scenes to transform that. the technology in the actual products, “the picks and shovels, the middleware layer” in his words, between these concepts and the creation of products and their bringing to market.

The news is a welcome step for the company after years of not cycling in place, but trying to do more with less.

GV – initially more directly branded as Google Ventures, funded by Google but not designed as a strategic fund – caused a stir when it opened its London office eight years ago. It was one of the first moves by a Silicon Valley company to move to this side of the pond to directly tap into the surge of startups emerging across Europe.

Previously, startups would have felt pressure (in some cases even an obligation) to relocate to the United States, particularly in the Valley, if they wanted to tap into American investors, get noticed to attract talent and large acquirers or technology partners, and aim for growth and scale. That was slowly starting to change and GV assembled a star team of well-known local names, as well as a fifth high-level mothership partner in the United States, to seize the opportunity, backed by its own dedicated fund.

Only a year later, however, things took a different turn. First one partner left, then Google folded the separate fund investing in its largest global vaults, then another partner left, and another, and another, until there was only one left. ‘one, Tom Hulme. But if you only have one partner, Hulme is a solid choice. He has been with the company ever since and has slowly built on the initial thesis of uncovering more gold veins, while delving into areas like life sciences alongside more traditional technology fields. But he largely does it solo with a small support crew around him.

“It was pretty much just me for a while,” Hulme said.

This also manifested itself in activity. To put some of GV’s European growth into context, overall the firm tells me it has over $8 billion in assets under management, 650 all-time investments and over 400 companies active portfolio managers since its launch in 2009, just four years ahead of the London office. He has backed some of the biggest names in tech over the past decade, including Uber, Nest, Slack, GitLab, and One Medical Group. In other words, at $500 million and 40 investments, GV in Europe hasn’t really been proportionately a massive part of the overall operation.

Now GV seems to be taking a different stance outside of London. Hulme said the plan was to add another partner soon, but he would do so on purpose.

“We want to be consistent, and one thing we won’t do — and would advise our portfolio companies not to do — is hurt the culture,” Hulme said. “We have an amazing culture where GV investors partner with their founders. And so we’re not going to break that for the world, which means we’re hiring slowly and we’re comfortable with that. I don’t think we’ll be hiring anyone else in the next quarter at GV in London unless an exceptional opportunity arises, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we hired someone in the third or fourth quarter of this year.

GV’s moves come at what feels like a crossroads in the world of risk and technology. Some of the most exuberant investors of recent years have been hit massively by devaluations of their portfolios. The SoftBank Vision Fund, which had raised inordinate funds to aggressively pursue a wide range of exciting tech opportunities, was at its peak, funneling billions into startups every quarter.

This week, it disclosed nearly $6 billion in losses and said it had invested less than $300 million during the period (relatively a pittance for SBVF, although it’s still a a giant sum, greater than many investment funds will raise and invest for years of operation). Others, like Sequoia, are restructuring their funds and looking to take a more integrated approach to how they view and manage their investments after a few tough years.

GV’s parent is also going through big changes. Amid a string of 12,000 layoffs for Alphabet in January, the company is restructuring a number of its operations while having to fight all the usual firefights you encounter in the tech world. The latest is the sudden/renewed buzz around AI and generative AI, which is driven not by Google but – for better or worse – by startups like OpenAI.

This has led to a few launches and will lead to a bit more news and product cycles as we watch to see what really catches and disrupts the market in the longer term.

What will be interesting to see is how and if this affects an organization like GV, which was created to be at arm’s length from Google’s strategic interests until now, but will nevertheless want to respond and be part of whatever will shape the technological landscape of tomorrow.


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