Balderton on track for $500M final close
With a great first close at $430M that is no doubt designed to provide momentum for the final close, Balderton appears firmly on track for a $500M close.
The partnership has added strong talent including Bernard Liautaud or Roberto Bonanzinga. The alumni list is also impressive with Ynon Kreiz now CEO at Endemol and George Coelho at Good. Even more relevant to investors, exits such as Bebo, mySQL or Betfair and strong portfolio companies such as LoveFilm or CodeMasters.
What is the lesson here: there is still money available for those who align fab teams with fab portfolios. Let’s not underestimate the task though and salute what was surely a tough effort given the market environment. It also shows that despite the name (sorry guys, I really can’t quite get to terms with that name), Balderton continues to power ahead after the Benchmark split.
As an aside, two of these successes are highly relevant case studies in the current environment: Betfair and LoveFilm were both companies that Balderton merged its own companies into (Flutter and Video Island/Screen Select respectively) in the last market downturn, showing that creative M&A is also a way to generate value in tough times.
All in all this is good news for the European venture landscape (although these days Balderton invests well beyond European borders) and for entrepreneurship.
Mike at Techcrunch points out that early-early stage entrepreneurs should not expect too much love from the likes of Balderton. I think he is right; if you were out investing a $500M fund right now with a focused team of people, you would spend most of your energy on the great pricing opportunities likely to emerge in 2009 for proven, fast growth businesses with some money flowing to early stage, but only those companies that have exceptional founding teams or are proving early traction (think Bebo…).
The takeaway for a founder:
- Don’t expect money from Balderton (or I suspect any tier I VC) unless you have proven market traction or a phenomenal personal track record
- Grow your team: partner up with other high quality guys and start your company with a 5 or 6 people as talented as yourself
- If you are really bootstrapping tell the VCs to take their money and spend it on cars :-) do without fundraising if you can, it’s going to hurt
All-in-all, there is no question in my mind that 2009 should be a good time cyclically to start a company, provided you can get funded / bootstrapped or whatever method you end up using. That, I realise, is a big proviso. So spread that equity, grab the best talent, raise your game, and we will be there for you !
<— If all else fails there is always Church or Sun Worship (if you are into that)