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Welcoming Emma Davies, our new Co-CEO

20 Jan 2021 By Alliott Cole

What does a fast-growing company actually look like? One definition is that it will be changing all the time. Drop by in six months time and it will be almost unrecognisable from your previous visit. We see this happening with our most dynamic portfolio companies, so it’s right that we should be doing the same – hence the arrival of our new Co-CEO, Emma Davies, and 9 new joiners in the last six months. 

Our growth and Emma’s arrival is down to one thing: the massive opportunity we see in European tech. Despite the pandemic, 2020 saw around $40 billion of investment in the European tech sector and this will rise further in 2021 as tech adoption continues to accelerate. Europe has produced more tech IPOs than the US every year since  2016, so as the next generation of tech giants emerge on this side of the Atlantic, we intend to be alongside them. 

Co-lead

Emma brings a wealth of experience, expertise and networks to Octopus Ventures from her years building world class investment houses including J.P. Morgan, Perry Capital, Big Society Capital (where she was the Chief Investment Officer) and The Wellcome Trust. Most recently she has spent 5 years as a partner at Marylebone Partners, building and leading their direct investing capability.  “I am really excited to be joining Octopus Ventures at a time when the fund is committed to growing its investment portfolio and working with the best entrepreneurs across Europe,” says Emma. “The team is highly ambitious and smart, so I am delighted to help supercharge growth at a pivotal time for European venture capital.” As Co-CEO, Emma will be responsible for product, operations and corporate development, enabling me to focus on investment and the portfolio. 

Structured for growth

Our investment team is set to grow in 2021, not just in numbers, but also in depth, diversity and deployment capabilities. Our ‘pod’ structure of sector-specific investment teams (Health, Money, Deep Tech and Consumer) that we’ve built over the last few years will continue to develop.

Meanwhile, entrepreneurs in the UK and across Europe are building extraordinary businesses in all these verticals. We see this in our own portfolio: it was not so long ago that Zoopla going public and becoming valued at £1bn+ was remarkable. Now for so many of the teams we back, such as Secret Escapes, Elvie, Depop and Cazoo, this is and will be just one milestone on a journey to something much, much bigger. The best European companies are now able to raise capital far more easily and we’re seeing increasing numbers of large funding rounds in recent years. Cazoo, for example, has now raised a total of $582 million despite only launching in December 2019.

As we always remind ourselves, the best entrepreneurs have a choice as to where they source their capital. We have to earn the right to be on their shortlist. By stepping up our capability, in expertise and capital, we will fulfil our significantly increased investment volumes planned for 2021.

New Year

This is going to be a pivotal year for European investment opportunities. We need to be poised to fuel those opportunities through our ability to scale, our ambition and our proven, experienced team with a great track record of investments already behind them. We’re going to keep growing in 2021 so we can keep originating, investing in and working with the most talented entrepreneurs in Europe at the same pace that we expect new and world-changing opportunities to break through.

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