Weekly VC Insights by Uniborn #14

Inside: An ode to European investors and founders, a call for investors to loosen their grip, and a battle between two media tycoons
Barbara Krassner
🇬🇪 Uniborn Team
5 min read

Hello everyone, here's your weekly Uniborn news squeeze that no member of the European venture capital market should miss. Sign up to receive another scoop next week.

🔥 Let's start with a nice manifesto to the European VCs: The local tech sector has reached its pinnacle

Not just anyone, but Dealroom with Creandum, a well-known data platform for the IT industry in Europe and Europe's leading early-stage venture capital firm, said it.

But let's look at the numbers. Europe attracts 20% of global venture capital funding (and as much as 30% if we're talking about seed-stage only), up from ~5% two decades ago. The European tech ecosystem has reached a total value of $2.5T, and in 2013 it did not exceed $170B. Since 2014, the total number of unicorns in Europe has increased by 88%, compared to 56% in the US: there are now 514 billionaire startups.

Evolution of the European unicorns. (Image: Dealroom)
Evolution of the European unicorns. (Image: Dealroom)

Half of the world's leading science clusters are in Europe, and it invests in new technologies as much as China and the rest of the world combined. So our beloved region has every chance of becoming a major innovation hub in years to come.

And if you invest in or develop European businesses in fintech, SaaS, and healthcare, as well as new sectors such as climate tech or quantum computing — especially with the boom in generative AI — you can be well sure you will be recognized in other countries.

Find more details in the Dealroom report.

🔥 Speaking of the AI boom, this is not just idle chatter. Two major European players have teamed up to make the region a flagship in the global AI

If to go into detail, Silo AI, one of Europe's largest private artificial intelligence labs, has announced a strategic partnership with the cross-industry collaboration network Combient Group. It amasses Scandinavia's 35 largest companies, such as Ericsson, H&M, and Saab.

Together, they will seek to increase Europe's competitiveness by accelerating the adoption of generative AI in local projects. To this end, they will collaborate with research companies such as WASP and leading universities and promote the development of large language models (LLMs) and tools for working with them. In general, do everything possible to ensure that Europe — especially the North — reaches critical mass in the field of AI.

Find more details in the Tech.eu review.

And don’t miss our Nordic Angel Investors list.

🔥 Of course, we can't leave out the latest round of sparring between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk

For those who happened to spend the last few days in outer space: On July 5, Meta launched Threads, a microblogging service similar to Twitter. So similar, in fact, that Twitter is now threatening to sue Meta, accusing it of intellectual property theft. But even before this development, the heads of the media kits were shaking their fists (though only from the comfort of their chairs).  

"Send me location," Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Instagram story, posting a screenshot of Elon Musk's post on Twitter, "I'm up for a cage match if he is lol." (Image: The Verge)
"Send me location," Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Instagram story, posting a screenshot of Elon Musk's post on Twitter, "I'm up for a cage match if he is lol." (Image: The Verge)

Still, there's an important difference between Twitter and Threads. While Twitter users can choose whether to read the content they follow or the recommended, in Threads, there is simply no way to switch to only reading who you follow. In other words, the new social network’s algorithms are particularly stubborn about choosing for you what news to consume. This exacerbates the already serious problem of information bubbles.

As Jessica E. Lessin, founder of The Information, puts it, "Every time I open the app, I get pulled into a comment I want to read. This app already knows me, and it's serving up exactly what I want. It's addictive. And it's just a day old. While quality news doesn't perform well in a model where the algorithm is trying to serve you something to keep you scrolling."

In other words, Threads is more about fun and gossip than an objective picture of what's going on. And it's also a huge threat to the news media — 55 million users joined Threads in a matter of hours. To catch their attention, the media will have to focus even more on clickbait than value.

So a tip for investors, founders, and everyone in general: ride the hype and use Threads to your advantage, but to keep your horizons wide open, continue reading direct feeds from preferred media.

Find more details in the The Information article.

🔥 Well, one last, not-so-obvious tip for investors: don't pressure the founders. It will lower your ROI

The proof comes from London-based VC Balderton Capital. They recently surveyed 230 startup founders, and it turned out that there is a clear disconnect between what society thinks helps to get the best business results and what is realistically good for it.

For example, 82% of the founders surveyed believe that long working hours are an inevitable part of being an entrepreneur; and 83% believe that the positive payoff from overworking soon diminishes —  conversely, stress, mistakes and the entire company’s decline will be right behind the corner. And more than half say that investors pressure to be on call and forever-ready-to-show-results.

In other words, the traditional approach of simply working more is officially a thing of the past. What's more, 81% of founders believe that venture capitalists can help create a culture where entrepreneurs can take care of their well-being, which will positively impact their productivity and overall profitability.

Keep these facts in mind as you reach for your work email this weekend to send a few messages. 😉

Find more details in the Balderton report.

Cover image: iStock

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