My Writings on Venture Capital

European Straits #188

Hi, it’s Nicolas from The Family. Today I’m sharing a quick list of links to everything I’ve ever written on venture capital, in chronological order.

It’s the last August edition, which means that next week we’ll get back to normal: original essays with insights and curated resources on the Entrepreneurial Age, viewed from Europe. I hope you had a great summer and that you’re feeling good, ready to get back to work! 😎

📈 My first article (in English) on venture capital was an issue of The Family Papers in late 2015, inspired by Bill Janeway’s work: Low Risk, High Reward: Why Venture Capital Thrives in the Digital World.

🌐 A few months later, we at The Family were so appalled by the state of the French VC ecosystem that I decided to learn more about what VC really is about: A Brief History of the World (of Venture Capital).

📚 In July 2016, my cofounder Oussama Ammar and I spent days working on this in-depth profile of Berkshire Hathaway and how it relates to The Family: 11 Notes on Berkshire Hathaway.

🇫🇷 At the end of 2017, my cofounder Alice Zagury was asked by the French government to join a task force to reform Financing Businesses in the 21st Century. This issue was my trying to frame the discussion.

💰 In 2018, we were starting to interact more with institutional investors and other limited partners in VC funds. It inspired this issue: Upending The Investment Value Chain.

🏭 You can’t grow a prosperous VC industry if large companies don’t acquire startups all the time. Sadly, that’s not the case in Europe, as I wrote in Startup Acquisitions Are About More Than Money.

🇮🇱 At the end of 2018, I travelled to Israel with my colleague Léa Evrard, learning a lot about how Israel built up its VC industry. Read more in Israel, The Original Startup Nation.

🔍 This issue of European Straits, published in January 2019, is my first iteration around the idea of the ‘diffraction’ of  venture capital and the specific case of Indie.vc: The Future of Financing Businesses.

🎼 As a columnist for Le Monde, I once published a short review of Bill Janeway’s Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy. Here it is, in English: The ‘Pas de Deux’ of the State and Venture Capital.

📗 In issue #111 of European Straits, I reviewed Robyn Klingler-Vidra’s illuminating book The Venture Capital State, about VC in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan: Building Up Venture Capital in Asia.

2019 is when I intensified my work on what it means to deploy capital in startups at the pan-European level. Here’s an essay about market timing: At What Stage Should You Invest in European Startups?

🔦 In September 2019, I joined Sifted as a columnist  and wrote my first column on exits (or the lack thereof in Europe): Investors in European startups need a clearer path to exit.

🏛 Following up on my column about exits, I wrote issue #142 following a conversation with James Clark, who back then was with the London Stock Exchange: Europe Shouldn't Be Content With Boring IPOs.

🇺🇸 Another column in Sifted, published in December 2019, was a collection of advice for US investors interested in Europe: US venture capitalists: here are 10 tips if you want to make it in Europe.

Yet another column in Sifted—and another round on the path to conceptualizing the ‘diffraction’. Everyone wants to be a VC, but nobody has the same idea in mind: The fragmentation of venture capital.

🔮 This was following my latest trip to Silicon Valley (February 2020). I think it will become the Wall Street of the Entrepreneurial Age rather than the place where you build companies: The Future of Silicon Valley.

☕️ Earlier this year, I had coffee in London with Johannes Lenhard, who asked me the simplest of questions: What Is Venture Capital? This is my detailed answer, with references to Bill Janeway’s work.

🦠 Later, in March 2020, the European VC industry started to be confronted with the pandemic and its aftermath. This (paid) edition provides a framework for weathering the storm: Investing During a Crisis.

⚖️ Still in the middle of the pandemic, I discussed the tough choices VCs are confronted with in such an extraordinary context—and what’s at stake: Venture Capitalists and the Choices They Make.

📉 When everyone was discussing supporting businesses and/or households with stimulus packages and bailouts, I suggested an approach to Supporting Venture Capital During the Crisis.

📖 Here is an in-depth essay on the history and model of Y Combinator, and what kind of lessons we in Europe can draw from it: 11 Notes on Y Combinator (April 2020).

💵 One signal, among many, of the ‘diffraction’ of venture capital is the growing interest of private equity firms for investing in tech companies: Can Private Equity Firms Make Money in Tech? (Round 1).

💡 A few weeks ago, I finally came up with what I think is the proper term to describe the transformation VC is currently going through—’diffraction’: The Diffraction of Venture Capital (July 2020).

💸 To illustrate the idea of the ‘diffraction’, I wrote this essay in the (paid) Work in Progress section of European Straits about securitization of SaaS revenue: Notes on Revenue-Based Financing (Round 1).

🇪🇺 This was another column in Sifted, building on Stefano Bernardi and Yannick Roux’s quarterly report on money raised by VC funds in Europe: Dark clouds on the horizon for European Venture Capital.


Several articles linked above are for paying subscribers only! Subscribe to European Straits if you want the full experience—it’s £15/month or £150/year!

From The 10 Keys to Investing in European Startups (July 2020):

My firm The Family is part of a trend I’m calling The Diffraction of Venture Capital. Once upon a time, VC was a homogeneous category: firms led by a small group of general partners who did most of the work (fundraising, marketing, dealmaking, portfolio management), aided by a handful PAs, analysts, and lawyers. These days, however, VC is all over the place, and very few individuals who introduce themselves as “an investor in tech startups” fit into the traditional category.

And in case you missed it:


From Normandy, France 🇫🇷

Nicolas