Friday, 30 July 2010

VC Factsheet: ATOMICO VENTURES

Company Summary and History
Atomico Ventures is a London-based venture capital firm that was founded in 2006 by Niklas Zennstromm and Janus Friis, the founders of Skype, after the 3.1 billion USD sale of Skype to Ebay. The firm invests in seed to early stage web-based businesses that target consumers or small to medium sized businesses. Atomico Ventures I funded 17 companies spanning a wide range of sectors including last.fm, Heysan and Technorati. Atomico Ventures II, a 165 million USD fund launched in March 2010 is to invest in seed to early stage businesses with a preference for those located in Europe. Skype founders's success with Skype has helped in attracting entrepreneurs and raising funding from investors during the financial crisis. The firm has an Entrepreneur in Residence who evaluates and assesses new, potential investments. At Atomico, this position is currently held by James Murray Wells, the founder of Glasses Direct. Atomico has a presence in Asia and Latin America.

Key People
Niklas Zennstrom: Atomico CEO and founding partner who graduated from Uppsala University in Sweden with a dual Business and MSc Engineering Physics/Computer Science degree. A serial entrepreneur, turned investor Zennstrom started his career at Tele2, one of Europe's biggest telecommunicators prior to co-founding and managing Kazaa, Skype, Joltid and Joost.

Janus Friis: Atomico venture partner. Friis started his career at CyberCity, a Danish internet service provider before he met Zennstrom in 1997 whilst working together at Tele2. He went on to co-found Kazaa, Skype, Joltid and Joost together with Niklas Zennstrom. Currently, Janus Friis is a founder and chair of Rdio, an online music services company.

High-Profile Deals
Atomico recently invested 3 million USD in Betable, the “Twitter for betting” in July 2010. Atomico Ventures II has also invested in Chemist Direct, an online independent chemist, Jolicloud and the gamers' social network, Playfire. The firm also sold its investments in Heysan and Last.fm to Good Technology and CBS respectively, in May 2007.

In 2009, the Skype founders settled a litigation case against Ebay over the rights to control key peer-to-peer software out of court, receiving a 14% stake in Ebay plus retention of rights to the software. A Silver Lake led investment consortium then purchased a 56% stake in Skype from Ebay with Ebay retaining a 30% stake in Skype.

Requirements for Capital Investments
For Atomico Ventures II, Atomico is looking to make investments in the single million dollar range i.e. under 10 million USD each in 20-35 seed to early stage transformative technology businesses. It's interested in disruptive internet-based start-ups with applications or services tailored to consumers or small to medium sized enterprises and not in capital intensive startups such as enterprise software and semi-conductor startups.

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