The 'watercooler' conversation at Mosaic HQ usually drifts towards the books we are reading, so we decided to share our thoughts in our bi-monthly newsletter. Please see below for a few recent reads:
At the end of last year, Amazon Web Services announced a dizzying range of new products, which were presented to the London investor community during a recent blizzard. The background symbolism of the city transfixed by a once-in-a-generation snowfall was nicely equivocal: chilly disruption, but also stunning transformation, creating new possibilities.
Here at Mosaic, we have long been big believers in the power of decentralised infrastructure and applications, demonstrated by our past investments in Blockchain, Blockstream and Multichain. In parallel, we have been looking at the problems that financial supply chains cause companies, both large and small. In Centrifuge, it feels like we’ve found exactly the startup and founding team that we’ve been looking for.
Centrifuge’s experienced founders are building an open, decentralised operating system that aims to unlock closed, proprietary financial supply chains. This will enable commerce that is more open, connected and data-rich. Centrifuge has the potential to reinvent how companies transact, collaborate, exchange and pay. We are excited to lead the first investment round into the company together with our friends at BlueYard.
The team behind Centrifuge has an incredibly impressive history of solving a related real business problem. The three co-founders - Maex Ament, Martin Quensel, and Philip Stehlik - have built several companies together, the latest being supply-chain-financing solution provider Taulia, which transacts with over 1.5 million suppliers from 164 countries and has provided over $100 billion of liquidity and early payments to SMBs. To fund that endeavour, over 8 years they raised $150 million from top tier VCs, so are experienced “repeat founders”. We are very pleased to partner with them on this new journey.
Supply-chain finance has always been of interest to Mosaic - we are attracted to the model of aggregating existing networks of suppliers through partnering with large purchasers and business networks. Yet problems exist: large enterprises struggle with the cost to on-board and validate new business partners; transacting parties do not own or control their own data; and third parties - such as funders or insurers - find it difficult to participate due to the lack of transparency.
With Centrifuge’s operating system, there will be a multitude of benefits including:
1) Easier access to funding for small suppliers from a marketplace of lenders enabled by the sharing of authenticated data across the network
2) Smart contracts that could allow payments to be triggered automatically after an order has been fulfilled, removing the need for invoices
3) Payment volume could be reduced and eliminated through a global business graph of transactions
4) Large purchasers could de-risk their supply chains through financing being available to every tier of the chain. For the crypto-geeks, their OS could even enable a supply chain to be organised as a DAO (decentralised autonomous organization)
It’s worth noting the significance of Centrifuge’s home-town, Berlin. The city is fast becoming a crypto hub, not just for Europe, but with global impact and ambition. The city has long been a petri-dish for experimentation in cryptocurrency, blockchain and open-banking. As early as 2012, payments were being accepted in bitcoin in record stores and cafes in edgy Kreuzberg. This fanatical early-adoption spawned a grassroots community of blockchain developers, and now a number of leading blockchain companies have significant developer teams in Berlin, including Parity, Gnosis and Consensys.
In addition, the German regulatory authority has been particularly active, engaged and permissive. BaFin published guidelines pertaining to cryptocurrency in 2013, and ruled very early on that companies didn’t need a licence to transact in bitcoin or alternative currencies, which removed a huge potential growth obstacle. Since then, BaFin has been quick to produce guidance on emerging crypto trends: everything from guidelines on ICOs to requirements for exchanges.
Together, the blockchain groundswell and legislative encouragement have nurtured a thriving crypto ecosystem. Centrifuge, who are enthusiastically hiring world-class engineers in Berlin, will surely benefit from the deep, knowledgeable and passionate talent pool of developers that the city now plays host to.
Lastly, it is great to invest alongside BlueYard, whom we introduced to the company. Not many early stage funds have launched in Europe over the last few years - BlueYard and Mosaic are two of them. We are big fans of both their team and their thematic approach to investing, and we share their enthusiasm for the decentralised Internet. They, like us, exist to back very ambitious companies. With this in mind, Centrifuge was the perfect company to seed together.
We are looking forward to working with Maex, Martin and Philip.
It is almost a year to the day since our investment in Bonify was announced, and after a fantastic twelve months that has seen the company strengthen the team and continue to grow, we remain super excited about the Berlin-based fintech platform’s future.
It is with great pleasure that we welcome the latest addition to the Mosaic team, our new venture partner Dr Jack Kreindler. Jack is a serial entrepreneur and a world-leading physician and physiologist. He will work with our investment team to help us discover and evaluate the most exciting digital health companies in Europe.
Dr Kreindler has an incredibly impressive history and track record. In 2007, Jack founded CHHP, The Centre for Health and Human Performance, in London’s Harley Street. There he leads a cross-disciplinary team of medical experts who both work with world-class athletes on performance optimisation, and with clients to pro-actively improve their health, prevent disease and maximise “quality longevity” shrinking the gap between health-span and lifespan. Jack is also the Founder and Chairman of Sentrian, a company that aims to eliminate preventable hospitalization by using a combination of remote biosensors and machine learning to remotely detect patient deterioration.
Earlier in his career, Jack worked as an A&E physician for the NHS in the UK for ten years, led Douglas Adams’ graphical user interface team for for h2g2.com (the first Wikipedia), and has even been on prime time TV in a heavyweight cage-fight in the name of medical ‘research’. I think it’s fair to say that he’s a polymath, and still has a few surprises up his sleeve.
We have long admired the size and scale of Jack’s ambition, and have frequently asked him to share his wisdom with our community, not only as an advisor behind-closed-doors, but also via an exceptional roundtable that we hosted together, which culminated in a podcast that warrants a listen for anyone interested in the future of healthcare. Jack is particularly passionate about computational discovery in healthcare, whether for biopharma, early disease detection and other machine learning-driven applications.
Digital health is extremely important to us all at Mosaic, and we have a genuine desire to increase our commitment to the sector over the coming years. But we realise that healthcare is something you need to treat with respect, and the utmost diligence. Companies in digital health aren’t just making certain services smarter, quicker or more readily available; they are solving critical problems that will help people stay healthier for longer, or mean that people who live with medical conditions can lead better lives. These kind of companies are changing the world, and are the exactly the kind of companies we want to fund.
In Jack’s own words, “I'm really excited to join the Mosaic team. The track record of the team speaks for itself, and I can’t wait to start working alongside them. Healthcare technology companies have the power to change the world, and and I look forward to helping Mosaic identify and partner with the best founders in Europe”
Talented entrepreneurs have the ability to transform the global economy at unprecedented pace. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Alibaba are among the most valuable companies in the world. In each example, courageous founders have steered their companies to global prominence.
The economically transformative power of entrepreneurship is regularly celebrated by us at Mosaic and by our friend Reid Hoffman, the visionary entrepreneur behind LinkedIn, and now a partner at Greylock.
We touched upon the subject in the spring, as we drank tea and swapped stories in the Arizona desert. We were talking about startups, and mulling over the industrialisation of the startup ecosystem. Reid was a prolific angel investor before he joined Greylock, with over 80 investments, and he is involved with a number of initiatives that encourage entrepreneurship around the world, including his incredibly popular podcast series Masters of Scale and Stanford class on “blitzscaling”. He is also personally involved with two leading non-profits for entrepreneurship: Kiva and Endeavor Global.
With this in mind, we suggested to Reid that we should partner up to invest in Entrepreneur First, the pioneering company creation platform started by Alice Bentinck and Matt Clifford in 2012. Reid was instantly intrigued with the concept of EF, and organised to meet Alice and Matt two weeks later in Silicon Valley. Soon after, Mosaic and Greylock were officially collaborating to help EF continue their impressive onward journey.
EF can play a defining role in making technology entrepreneurship the career of choice for the most ambitious people in the world. Matt, Alice and the team work with individuals with deep technical backgrounds, and support them from day zero as they build companies from the ground up. This process helps turn world-class individuals into world-beating teams, all the while helping them develop ideas, grow their business, and overcome the cultural stigma that still surrounds startups, particularly in Europe.
YCombinator has achieved enormous success in Silicon Valley with its accelerator model, and has supported over 3,200 founders and 1,470 companies, including big successes such as Airbnb, Cruise, Docker, Reddit and Stripe. While it is comparatively early days for EF, to date they have helped over 350 individuals build 120 companies with a total valuation of over $1 billion.
Mosaic loves to work with mission-driven founders. We seek out the individuals who challenge convention, make bold decisions, and follow the courage of their convictions. Not only do Alice and Matt exemplify these traits, but they have created a programme that unearths future generations of startup founders.
It was a true team effort at Mosaic that make this all happen - from Mike learning that EF wanted to raise money from a top tier US VC firm, Simon’s conviction that we should introduce EF to the very best people, and Toby’s five year history with Alice and Matt. The Mosaic team have closely followed EF since the beginning, attending demo days, meeting their companies and enjoying the very special atmosphere and culture they have created with their founders - it is a real privilege to become a partner to such a unique company.
It goes without saying, if you have strong technical chops, and want to work on a highly ambitious startup, we highly recommend you apply to EF. The global economy is perpetually on the brink of being reshaped and working with EF will give you an unfair advantage if you want to go out and transform it.
Additional Recent Posts from the Mosaic Ventures Team:
Our Investment in Convoy Have you ever stopped for a moment to think about how the shirt you’re wearing arrived at the store? Or perhaps the workflow behind transporting your granola and smoothie to the local breakfast deli? While perhaps not the sexiest business for tech-savvy entrepreneurs, trucking is nevertheless a critical industry to every modern economy. We're excited to be investing in Convoy alongside our friends at YC Continuity, Greylock (who led the Series A), Hadi, and many more. Read More
The Machine can see you now: a market framework for medical imaging Ask most AI researchers, and they’ll tell you that one of the biggest advances within artificial intelligence capabilities in the past five years has been in the sub-field of computer vision — in particular image recognition, which now performs as well as humans in many domains. Read More
Have you ever stopped for a moment to think about how the shirt you’re wearing arrived at the store? Or perhaps the workflow behind transporting your granola and smoothie to the local breakfast deli?
Over the past year Benoit, François, Guillaume and team have been hard at work bringing their vision to life, and we are excited to be investing again in their Series A alongside Dom Vidal at Index Ventures. It is a “Criteo reunion” of sorts, with other Criteo alumni investing alongside us — Pascal Gauthier (COO) and Greg Coleman (President).
n the latest episode of the Mosaic Podcast we are joined by Pascal Gauthier, who over the last 15 years has been immersed in some of the fastest growing digital media and advertising companies to come out of Europe.
Mortgages are an enormous category, over £200 billion in the UK alone. Yet for a commodity-like product — who cares which lender your money comes from — it is exceedingly complex for a consumer to find the right mortgage, struggle through the jargon, and the mountain of paperwork, then stay on the best deal forever.
When I first met tray CEO Rich Waldron early in 2014, after an introduction from angel (and now VC) Andy McLoughlin, two things struck me. First, out of the 80 or so men in the cafe we’d picked near the Google Campus in Old Street we were the only two without full beards. Most of all, though, I was struck by how clearly he envisaged a future of easily connected SaaS services.
In this podcast, Mosaic partners Simon Levene and Mike Chalfen explore with Sam Altman his interest in “hard tech” sectors including Energy and Synthetic Life. Sam also discusses YC’s strategy and future including the new $700 continuity fund as well as the launch of YC research, a nonprofit research lab (including the famed initiative around universal basic income).