Old Money. Post-Brexit Immigration. Family Offices. Thumbs Up/Down. Unlocked Essays.

European Straits #233

The Agenda 👇

  • My latest Sifted column about investing old money in startups

  • The UK used to be welcoming for immigrants; not anymore

  • A conversation with Hall Martin of Investor Connect Podcast

  • A reading list about family offices in venture capital

  • Thumbs up/down for the last weeks

  • A list of recently unlocked essays from the archive

You’re all hearing it: if only wealthy European families deployed more capital in tech startups, maybe we could catch up with more advanced entrepreneurial ecosystems faster! Recently I was talking to a friend who’s advising such a family in their effort to do just that and, after a few minutes of brainstorming, I realized it’s not that easy for old-money investors to find their way to decent returns in the maze that is the European tech world! It inspired my latest Sifted column on the topic.

👉 Read more in It’s not that easy for old money to flow into tech startups


My previous column, published two weeks ago, was prompted by this great Süddeutsche Zeitung article in which journalist Michael Neudecker tells how hard it’s been for him to move from Munich to London. Between the bureaucratic hassle, the regularly encountered absurdity, the high cost and the unambiguous message that foreigners are not particularly welcome, post-Brexit Britain has ceased to be a haven for immigrants. It’s a shame for most parties, but it’s also a success for Brexit supporters who voted to do just that. 

👉 Neudecker’s article is paywalled (and in German 😉), but you can read my own Sifted column here: Post-Brexit immigration: mission accomplished?


Bonus: A reader of this column, Cansu Deniz Bayrak of Bethnal Green Ventures, shared her views and experience as a foreigner immigrating to the UK. Read it here: UK immigration is hard—here is why you should care as someone in tech.

🎧 Recently, I recorded an episode of the Investor Connect podcast with host Hall Martin.

I advised investors and entrepreneurs and shared some of the challenges they face. I also discussed some good opportunities for investors to pursue.

Listen to my episode here 🎧

As a complement to my Sifted column about European old money, here’s a reading list about family offices and their exposure to venture capital:

😀 It’s finally here! If, like me, you’ve been an avid reader of Azeem Azhar’s Exponential View for years, you’ll find great pleasure in reading the related book Exponential. And if you’re new to Azeem’s worldview and compelling framework for understanding the transition at work, reading the book is a great way to catch up before digging deeper 👉 Exponential by Azeem Azhar 📓

🙂 While everyone was on holiday, my friend Sandro Gianella, who oversees EMEA public policy at Stripe, published an in-depth essay suggesting that venture capital firms hire public policy specialists. It’s a compelling discussion on a topic I’ve touched upon here, here, and here. On the same topic, have a look at publications by Leo Ringer and Patrick Newton at Form Ventures.

😏 I was interested in the recent showdown between Coinbase and the SEC on regulating crypto-backed securities, in particular this article by Nir Kaissar in Bloomberg: Personal Finance: Investors Need More Than Regulators for Protection. It asks a profound question: can you still regulate financial markets in a world where so much power has been vested in networked individuals? On this topic, also have a look at my Retail Investors in the Transition (just unlocked).

😐 I gave a talk at the invitation of a consulting firm a few weeks ago and revisited my theory of industries transitioning from the Fordist Age to the Entrepreneurial Age across five stages. I had interesting questions as to what happens after Stage 5: is there a Stage 6 whereby incumbents regain the upper hand? Having recently had this discussion, my attention was then caught by this piece of news: Ford Hiring Doug Field Is Biting Apple for a Taste of Tesla.

😒 The trial of Theranos’s Elizabeth Holmes started a few days ago. It came with a lot of articles about the state of the blood-testing industry and the many startups that are tackling the challenge that attracted Holmes in the first place: making tests more affordable and convenient. Is Theranos the new Napster—struck down but historically game-changing? Here: Silicon Valley still believes in promise of easy blood tests despite Theranos scandal. Also my own I Just Finished Bad Blood (2019).

😖 It’s been almost one year since my family and I arrived in Bavaria. As we’re accumulating experience dealing with locals, public services, and the school system (the new school year started yesterday), my wife Laetitia is becoming more and more appalled by how hard Germany makes it for women who want both a family and a career. Read it all in How Germany punishes mothers

📚 I unlocked a few more essays from the European Straits archive recently:

👔 The Future of Consulting (Round 1) (May 2020)

👔 The Future of Consulting (Round 2) (September 2020)

🧾 The State of Corporate Venture Capital (September 2020)

😵 Retail Investors in the Transition (September 2020)

💰 On Rich People and Startups (January 2021)

♻️ McKinsey's Financial Loops (January 2021)

🏛 A Founder's Handbook for Lobbying the Government (January 2021)

💊 An Investment Thesis: Help Software Digest the World (May 2021) 

By the way, if you’re interested in a particular essay that’s still behind the paywall, please don’t hesitate to ask me to unlock it! I won’t unlock everything at once (and there’s no feature to do just that in Substack anyway), but I’m willing to do it from time to time for friends and frequent readers 🤗


Sign up to European Straits if you don’t want to miss the next issues 🤗


From Munich, Germany 🇩🇪 

Nicolas