In 2013, having seen the momentum growing around European tech, I left the amazing ride that was Facebook and co-founded White Star Capital to help back ambitious entrepreneurs on both sides of the Atlantic. I am amazingly proud of the platform and team that we have been able to build over the past 5 years. Our portfolio is now over two dozen companies with close to 1,500 employees across 9 countries and our two funds now combine for more than $250 million under management.
I am now, however, stepping back.
I will remain a venture partner at White Star, continuing to manage my investments and supporting them as they scale, but I will not be doing any new investments through the firm.
As I have mentioned before, taking the leap to found your own VC fund carries a lot of the traditional risks of a startup … and then some. Building one with a broader geographic strategy, even more so. But it is a role I have cherished and a “job” that satisfies my natural curiosity.
Soon after announcing White Star, I did a brief presentation at the SLUSH conference in which I presented why I was long on Europe. The recent exit momentum around Spotify, Adyen, iZettle and soon Farfetch only helps to prove the point.
As I have matured as an investor and narrowed down the areas of technology that most intrigue me, I have also come to the realisation that I am extremely fortunate to be able to have this role, and that what truly drives me is “Backing S**t That Matters”. I find myself constantly thinking about the world my children will grow up and thrive in, about what a breathtaking future is possible for them, and how I could help make it happen.
So, with many of these things in my mind, and with the support of my co-founders, Eric and Jean-François, I’ve realised what I want to double down on. And that’s finding European entrepreneurs, whose trust I manage to earn so that I can support them in bringing to life the “Science of the Possible”.
This is also the right time for me to step back, as White Star has now built an amazingly strong team across our various geographies and entrusted a new generation of partners to take us forward, with Lylan being promoted earlier in the year to lead our efforts in New York, Matthieu joining us to lead our efforts in Paris, and now Nick being promoted to take over the torch and lead White Star’s presence in London.
I am grateful to the investors that have trusted me across our two funds — and to them I have confirmed my continued support (and economic incentives) to generate material returns in the years to come.
I am grateful to the entrepreneurs that have allowed me to back them, and for the open dialogue as we have discussed challenges and opportunities — and to them I say: I am here for you and I am looking forward to that next whiteboard session.
I am grateful to my partners and the broader White Star team from whom I continue to learn so much — to them I say: I am so proud of the brand that we have built, thank you. I know that we will continue to work together on our existing companies, and hopefully partner together in future ones as we continue to capitalize on our mutual strengths and complementarities.
And finally, I am grateful to my family who backed me in taking this risk five years ago and has unwaveringly supported me as I thought through this decision. To my children I say: wear the White Star t-shirts with pride (as you often do). To my amazing wife I say, thank you for always kicking me in the butt and pushing me to have the hard conversations with myself.
To those who ask what comes next, the answer is that I don’t yet know. I have my hands full in the short term with my portfolio companies, and I will spend the next few months seeking to satisfy my intellectual curiosity in new areas of interest in emerging technologies. In the longer term I plan to return to my “happy place”, at a whiteboard mapping out what could be possible, and caring deeply about backing s**t that matters.