1/ This is great news, first of all, because it will let us accelerate the strategy we devised two years ago:
The Family is a pan-European investment firm. Our headquarters are in London, the large part of our team is in Paris and we also have an office in Berlin. From these three major cities, which also happen to be the most dynamic startup hubs on the continent, our goal is to operate the indispensable infrastructure that no ambitious Entrepreneur in Europe can afford to miss at the earliest stage. Obviously it takes a lot of capital to build such an asset, and the money we raised will be invested accordingly.
The Family is building various service providers that we own but which are operated at arm’s length. As I explained , it’s all about shaping the market for business services. Today, this market is broken and that hurts European startups. Our goal is to better serve all startups, including those in our portfolio, thus maximizing their returns on invested capital in the near future. What’s more, our subsidiaries will generate cash flow and therefore contribute to covering The Family’s operating costs. But getting there requires an investment—and raising money enables us to do just that.
Finally, The Family is uniquely positioned to become a follow-up investor in our portfolio’s most promising companies. As I’ve explained several times in this newsletter, one of our most valuable assets is the trusted relationship we have with the founders of our portfolio companies. In turn, this relationship provides us with unique insights into where they’re headed and how high they can aim. In the past, we didn’t have the capital to leverage this relationship and support the most promising founders with cash over the longer term. Thanks to the money we’ve just raised, we’re finally able to build and seed our own venture capital arm to soon follow the leading venture capital firms in Europe when they invest in our best startups.
For those of you who want to learn more about The Family’s strategy, I’d point you to the (very long) essay my partner Oussama Ammar and myself published back in July 2016. We really did try to explain it all: The New Berkshire Hathaway You Haven’t Noticed (Yet).
2/ Raising capital in this round led by LGT Capital Partners is also great news because of who our new shareholders are.
For a long time we at The Family resisted being backed by a strategic investor. It wasn’t that we were against someone investing a lot of money in The Family on principle. But we have long understood that our positioning and our strategy were not yet clear and mature enough to settle on one direction—which is a real necessity when welcoming a strategic investor. It’s only during the past two years that my cofounders Alice Zagury, Oussama Ammar and I finally grew convinced: we were ready to welcome a larger shareholder alongside the diverse group of individual investors and venture capital firms that have backed us over the past five years (we famously call them the “Godfathers”).
We’re all the more enthusiastic because of who our new investors are. You won’t find much about them online, except maybe for this article, and that’s because they belong to the remote world of institutional investing. But for me, being backed by such an investor is a matter of pride and satisfaction:
We’re proud because we at The Family really feel the large amount of trust and the very high level of ambition that our friends at LGT Capital Partners are bringing to the table. After all, they’re a major limited partner in the most successful venture capital firms in Europe.
And we also feel a bit of satisfaction, because this deal is an opportunity to validate our long-held belief that institutional investors need to go downstream in the investment value chain so as to secure the returns generated in the fast-growing digital economy. As an investment vehicle, The Family has been designed to do just that. Now we just need to work even harder so that together we generate those returns for all parties involved!
You can read the issue of the newsletter in which I covered this topic here: .
3/ Finally, this is all great news because it’s been such a long and difficult process. Our first encounter with LGT Capital Partners saw me introducing The Family to their managing director, Ivan Vercoutere, as part of a series of meetings he had in Paris. That was in February 2017—18 months ago!
Since then, as those who know us well can testify, we have gone through many ups and downs, and we have faced quite a few obstacles on the path to expanding our operations in Europe. But one thing was never in doubt: the quality of our relationship with Ivan and his team. What we’ve seen from them was the pinnacle of professionalism, excellent communication, an absolute determination to think for the long term, and an extraordinary level of empathy—all qualities that Alice, Oussama and I expect from a strategic investor.
The danger with raising funds is that it appears to be an achievement rather than a mere step on the way to success. But that’s not something that we fall for at The Family. When people ask me how long I think I’ll be working as a cofounder here, I reply that The Family is being built to last forever. It certainly sounds presumptuous. But now that we’re backed by an investor whose history can be traced back to the 12th century, it only reinforces my conviction that it is indeed possible.
And so hats off to my cofounder Oussama, who led the negotiations on our side; a lot of love for my other cofounder Alice and to the fantastic team she’s managing so well as CEO of The Family; and a warm welcome and thank you to LGT Capital Partners’ Ivan Vercoutere and Thomas Kristensen for trusting us and becoming part of The Family.
Oh, and four more things:
Here’s the very informative article that was just published by TechCrunch: The Family raises $17.4 million to support European startups.
Here’s the press release: The Family Raises €15M Led by LGT Capital Partners.
My latest article in Forbes, about the rise of Taxify as the European champion in ride-hailing: One Continent – One Taxi App.
Warm regards (from London, UK),