Frederic Court of London-based Felix Capital on working with, and heading off, American VCs – Thealike


Last month, on the similar time that the London-based enterprise agency Felix Capital was saying that it has closed its fourth and latest fund with $600 million in capital commitments, we had a separate chat with Felix’s founder, Frederic Court, about how competitors in Europe has modified, on condition that so many U.S. enterprise companies have opened workplaces on the continent, together with Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners and General Catalyst.

Unsurprisingly, Court stated the expanded array of choices is nice for founders. He additionally instructed us that the majority European buyers would favor to stay with European companies or to begin their very own outlets the place they will have extra affect. We thought it was an attention-grabbing a part of a longer discussion; the excerpts under have been edited for size.

TC: Quite a lot of the largest U.S. companies have arrange store in Europe over the past 18 months or so. How does all this curiosity affect your work regionally?

FC: Many of those companies we all know nicely already. They rent people who find themselves already buyers in Europe from different different [venture] platforms. And general, it’s nice for the entrepreneurs in Europe [and] a mirrored image of the evolution of the market.

Over right here, we’ve seen extra ambition, extra expertise, and clearly extra capital previously few years as Europe has begun to construct not solely native champions however international champions like Spotify and Adyen and Farfetch, the place I used to be lucky to be concerned from day one as an investor. So sure, there’s extra competitors, however there are  extra choices as nicely for founders.

You point out these companies hiring from different platforms, although I’d learn someplace they’ve had some hassle hiring as a result of there aren’t sufficient buyers with common partner-level expertise in Europe and likewise as a result of the mindset is totally different from U.S. VCs who — till very not too long ago — had been centered on progress, whereas European VCs had been extra centered on eradicating threat. Does any of that ring true to you?

I believe loads of that is true. The actuality is that we’re in an trade the place, to measure success, it takes time. I imply, I’ve been in enterprise capital for over 20 years. There will not be many people. There’s Fred [Destin] who began Stride.VC and [investors at] Accel and Index who’ve been on this area for 20-years plus and with an incredible monitor report, however it’s fairly a small neighborhood. So there’s a lot of nice rising expertise however with fewer information factors of success and, consequently, sure, it’s most likely been tougher for folks to rent.

I believe there’s most likely additionally a way from most of the buyers in Europe [that] they don’t essentially simply wait to be employed by American companies. They very a lot need to construct native companies. When we launched Felix [in 2015] we discovered super assist from mates within the U.S. connecting us to [limited partners] as a result of once I began, I had zero LP connections. But we additionally discovered loads of native assist from folks desirous to nurture native co-investors with whom they might work nicely. So it’s not essentially apparent for a European investor to instantly be a part of a crew that’s new and the place choices will likely be made, for probably the most half, within the U.S. [compared with the opportunity they have to] be a part of European platforms and have extra affect.

It does occur, although. Lightspeed hired Paul Murphy from Northzone. Sequoia poached Luciana Lixandru from Accel in London. Have you misplaced anybody to the expertise wars?  

I’ve received little doubt that many individuals on our crew are getting calls. We discuss fairly overtly about it. Candidly, the toughest factor about working a enterprise agency is crew constructing. [But] we’ve a sure approach of doing issues; we’re very a lot a tradition of “we” versus “I.  We have just a few nice individuals who got here and joined our agency, then moved on with nice success, however the individuals who stayed and the individuals who joined extra not too long ago are very a lot attracted by this crew tradition. We choose our battles collectively, we win them collectively and we lose them collectively. And that’s very a lot a tradition that I wished from the very starting. Even our fundraising is completed in a really open approach, with the record of all our buyers obtainable to the [entire] crew. We don’t really feel that we should be secretive there.

You say there’s full transparency into your LP base throughout the agency. Are you making an attempt to make the purpose that different companies is likely to be extra cautious about this, on condition that so many individuals have been spinning out to create their very own companies?

LP relations is usually one thing that’s completely guarded from the remainder of the crew [but] we’ve been very open with our buyers in connecting them to totally different crew members as a way to get to know them and likewise to validate what I’ve simply described to you — that we work in a clear approach and are making choices collectively.

Also, personally, it’s part of the enterprise that I used to be uncovered to fairly late, and I want I’d [been exposed] earlier. It’s an important half [of being a VC] that doesn’t get mentioned as a lot. If you’re becoming a member of a few of the massive companies that you just’ve talked about, most of the companions or buyers is not going to become involved in fundraising instantly as a result of these companies are like machines by way of fundraising [based on] very sturdy previous efficiency. When you’re ranging from scratch, typically the primary six months to a 12 months to 2 years will likely be centered on fundraising, so it’s a key talent set, and we wish our LPs to know the crew and vice versa. It’s a option to do it this fashion.



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