I love when entrepreneur tell me that “it is impossible to raise VC funding in France.” Honestly, it has become one of my favorite phrases. I have come across numerous entrepreneurs – on both sides of the Atlantic – that have told me that VCs are risk-averse weirdos and that their capital is extremely limited and/or drying up. And while Chausson Finance did declare France’s VC activity for the first half of 2011 as remarkably less than in 2010, this does not mean that there is no money to be had.
IDInvest Partners: 46 million euros, 34 deals.
IDInvest Partners – formerly known as AFG Private Equity – joined forces with Oddo Private Equity in the beginning of the year and has since invested some 46 million euros – which puts it ahead of all other French VC funds in terms of the amount invested. The 3 million euro fund apparently made 34 investments in the first half of 2011 – placing it just behind OTC Asset Management, who closed 44 deals.
IDInvest participated in some rather important rounds of funding this year. The fund seemed to have a strong preference for gaming companies, with partner Guillaume Lautour investing heavily in social gaming companies like PrettySimple, Kobojo, eRepublik Labs, Zeturf, Winamax and performance marketing company MediaStay – who closed one of the bigger rounds of funding in France this year (alongside Wikio/Ebuzzing). IDInvest’s most recent investment was community debate site Newsring, which closed a round of 3.5 million euros in October with several different funds.
98 million euros invested in Internet/e-commerce.
Even though investment declined in comparison to 2010, the area that seemed to maintain its lustre was obviously Internet and e-commerce. With some 98 million euros invested in the first half of 2010, 69 different companies were able to receive funding of roughly 1.4 million euros on average. Some of the e-commerce companies that announced funding in 2011 include HappyView, JolieBox, Jimmy Fairly and VestiairedeCopines. Interestingly enough, more money was invested into Internet and e-commerce companies than into the life sciences.
Still not enough seed.
But it should come as no surprise that there is a very evident lack of seed funding, which comprised only 5% of all capital invested in the first half of 2011. Only 38 companies received seed funding (all sectors combined), with the average investment being between 600K and 700K euros. And even if France boasts a strong tie with the world’s most active seed investor, Kima Ventures (who closes 100 deals per year), only 15 funds in the whole of France closed seed rounds during the first half of 2011. And in fact, the fund that was the most active in terms of seed in France was Truffle Capital, who closed 11 seed deals – although when it comes to the amount invested, Ventech takes the cake with a total of 6 million invested.
Alven, where art thou?
The one fund that I was surprised not to see higher on the list was Alven Capital. The company got off to a rather active start in 2011, including HappyView, Entropysoft, Lengow, Antvoice, Joliebox – and just announced a new investment of roughly 2 million euros in Swiss Koala.ch yesterday. I’m expecting Alven to make a pretty good mark next year, if not before.
For a list of French companies that raised funding in the first half of 2011, see this article by Frenchweb (the list also includes some US/foreign companies with French founders). And please, even if it’s difficult to raise in France and we’re not raising, like a billion dollars, don’t go telling me there is no money in France.