With the holiday season fast approaching we thought we would share three books that we’ve been enjoying over the past couple of months.
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).
Jack Kreindler is an expert physician, physiologist and digital health entrepreneur. We co-hosted a fascinating health roundtable with him in London earlier this year, together with leading health entrepreneurs from across Europe and the US. This podcast covers many of the topics from the roundtable as well as his own personal thoughts on the opportunities and challenges in digital health, especially in machine learning and big data.
Fees are the first thing you should look at before choosing a pension manager and fund. Buy cheap and you have a significantly better chance of making money than if you buy expensive. The growth of roboadvisors and their success in attracting client assets shows that retail investors are recognising this. However, while roboadvisors have kept absolute fees very low, there are other areas in which they have not innovated.
At Mosaic we’ve long talked about what the killer applications of the Blockchain could be. While Fintech was always a strong initial market, with the technology still in its infancy how far reaching could the impact of Blockchain be beyond financial services.
It may be a surprise to hear this from a venture capitalist, but the vast majority of startups should not take money from our industry. The history of entrepreneurship is the history of owner-managers with no outside shareholders. Indeed the data shows just how few startups take venture capital - one in every 2,000 startups in the US.
We are thrilled to announce that Pascal Gauthier is joining Mosaic as a Venture Partner. Former chief operating officer of Criteo, Pascal has a strong track record of building and scaling a global business, competing head-on with Google and Amazon. Criteo is one of the most successful venture-backed startups in Europe, valued at $2.5bn on NASDAQ today.
A big question founders often ask themselves is when should their startup raise venture capital. In the 20 years since we began investing the cost of starting an Internet driven business has fallen dramatically, but entrepreneurs usually need to finance their growth with outside money at some point. But before we address the when, it’s important to address the why.
We believe that trusted robo-advisors have a bright future. When it comes to supporting financial decisions for the average consumer, technology can deliver far superior advice than a human-powered service. With wealth management as the initial target for robo-advice - and Wealthfront and Betterment leading the charge in the US - who might be next in the firing line?
Martin Ford’s “Rise of the Robots” is one of the most provocative books I’ve read in the past 12 months. As a “glass-half-full” VC investor, I don’t often enjoy pessimistic visions of the world, but Ford makes strong arguments about the prospect of a jobless future.
At a time when sceptics are speculating about the demise of bitcoin the currency, and casting doubt on the viability of the “trustless trust” blockchain on which it’s built, it’s worth reiterating why we are long-term believers in this space, and the potential for Blockstream’s approach. We believe one of their key innovations, “sidechains”, could become an important solution to some of the structural and constitutional issues the blockchain will need in order to reach its full potential.
One of my partners was heading past me the other day with an entrepreneur and as he ushered her in, he asked "are you sure we can't get you something to eat?".
It reminded me of a writer I admire, Michael Pollan, who champions a more mindful approach to how we eat. As well as decommoditizing food, he makes the simple anthropological observation that “the shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body, to a ritual of family and community.”
At the end of Mosaic’s first full year of operations, we continue to feel excited. It’s a privilege to do what we love: investing in the most ambitious startups being built by Europe’s most talented entrepreneurs.
We’d like to thank everyone who has supported us in this formative time. It has been an incredible journey. We’ve been blown away by the number of transformational startups that we’ve met across Europe, and especially the calibre of founders behind them. Keep ’em coming!
How ebullient is the funding environment for start ups? In the last two years companies have raised record amounts of capital while minimising the amount of ownership they sell in return. Most true at later stages, with the proliferation of “unicorns” and now “subprime unicorns”, we have also seen a spillover to our sweet spot - early stage companies - as later stage investors have sought value by looking to invest earlier than they would otherwise.
Over the past year we’ve talked extensively about the unbundling of the banks and how a wave of best of breed startups are attacking them at scale. Perhaps one of the biggest European success stories of this is Transferwise, now with over 400 people, and transferring $700m per year across 400 routes, they recently raised a $58M round lead by Andreessen Horowitz.
A giant and heavily regulated industry which many would argue has lost sight of its customers should be ripe for attack. After all, entrepreneurs are tackling some of the toughest challenges in sectors like healthcare, transportation and financial services, using software to radically transform the product offering. Yet insurance has been overlooked, protected by large capital requirements and regulatory complexity.