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Nordic Web - Interview with Mike Chalfen
Financial Times - Investors cool on cyber security start-ups that promise silver bullets
Hi! I’m Mike Chalfen, a partner at Mosaic Ventures. I am excited to be a co-founder of Mosaic, which is the natural next step for me: a small, tightly-knit partnership formed with friends and focused on early stage investing.
I grew up in a progressive and nomadic family, getting to know the world through ten schools and four countries. My formative experiences included on-the-ground research into US civil rights history, and I was always on the side of optimism, change, and self-determination. When the Internet emerged, I immersed myself in it and became a VC.
I have worked with founders of tech startups since joining Apax Partners in 1996, when it was the leading European venture investor. I was the youngest employee, with no title, little relevant experience, and a thirst to learn. I spent a decade there in the Tech and Media teams, initially apprenticed to two 20-year venture veterans who were both great investors and good human beings, then led the Internet team from 1999, and was a Partner from 2003. My notable investments included eDreams (later Odigeo), QXL, and Suse Linux - and there were some poor ones too. The last investment I led at Apax was in King.com, one of the biggest winners in European venture. It has been inspiring how Riccardo, Seb and Stephane have grown the business into a formidable global leader.
After Apax, I joined Advent Venture Partners in London, and invested in several more strong entrepreneurs and in parallel made some very promising investments independently. During this period, I participated in the first rounds at Fizzback, Houzz, Illumio, Moogsoft, Seal Software, and The Foundry, and also invested in Ubiquisys and Worldstores. And it became clear that being in a smaller partnership was better for me.
It is seriously invigorating to spend my career at close quarters with self-determining, ambitious founders. The stories are endless. I have made compelling investments that lost money, and stumbled onto winners; backed geniuses and one or two fantasists; and experienced the incredible bond that can come from being there, from early in their journeys, night and day, as a real partner to truly world-class entrepreneurs. It is what I love most about being an early stage investor. In November 2017, I was honoured to be included in Forbes' first Midas List Europe. Without the adventurous entrepreneurs that I've been lucky enough to work with over the years, this wouldn't have been possible. So thank you again to this very special group of people.
I am a lucky man. When not imagining the future with startups, you may find me trying to photograph light at the “magic hour”, planning eccentric adventures with my wife Julia, wrestling or debating with my four children, or singing to whomever will listen.