Tag Archives: Europe

Sharp123

Consumer Electronics Business Sharp Will Sell Products In Europe


Sharp, the hardware and software telecommunications agency, is discussing the certification of Taiwanese and Turkish businesses to create and auction off their domestic devices in Europe. Sharp Corporation is headquartered in Tokyo, was founded in 1912 and has received over one hundred million dollars in private equity funding in the last two years.

 

The 3 bad habits VCs can’t afford anymore


Disclosure: I’ve conducted a thousand meetings with venture capitalists in Europe and thousands of calls with investors worldwide for the past 5 years. There are many good investors in France and Europe, don’t get me wrong. But i’m not here to pin medals ☺

I have heard too many stories and have witnessed too often venture capitalists misbehaving with entrepreneurs, especially and including some of the best ranked in Europe. It’s really sad for the entrepreneurs but mostly for the venture capital industry itself. Probably because (fortunately!) most of the time, it’s unintentional.

The mere fact that a venture capitalist tried to go towards a VC code of conduct is actually pretty alarming. I won’t go through all the details -education and good habits come from a consistent practice. But let’s be specific on three basic facts:

  • #ON-TIME > Some investors are late, always or often, and let’s face it, this is unprofessional, especially when the entrepreneurs are coming to you. At A16Z, partners are fined $10 for every min late to a meeting.
  • #EMPATHY > Entrepreneurs are on a mission and they deserve respect. The best investors are pretty straight-forward but they also show a lot of empathy while others are almost despising during the meetings, which is incredibly rude.
  • #FOLLOW-UP > The dealflow at venture capital firms is pretty huge, from 100 to 1,000 new opportunities per month popping-up. Not replying to unsolicited email is fine I guess, the rules are pretty clear for anyone looking to raise funds. But when you have been introduced to an entrepreneur by someone you trust or have met up with someone, you should absolutely get back to them, whatever the consistency of the answer.

I’ve been surprised in the US by the conciseness among the top venture capitalists, the straightness and the empathy in their answers. They’re full of humility and respect and we should learn from those practices in Europe. Some of them are even sending satisfactory forms after having met with entrepreneurs to make sure they were well received.

Good practices are not only good for the entrepreneurs but also for the investors themselves and the ecosystem. Please consider.

A bon entendeur ☺


Tips: Gmail for to-do, email & calendar(stop using outlook, NSA does not care about your dealflow), aText for templates, Doodle for meetings, Rapportive for people checking and finally Good habits but practice and organisation are actually the best tools.

You Don’t Have to Live in Silicon Valley to Start a Company


By  |  February 17, 2014, 2:34 PM

Berlin has emerged as one of Europe's startup magnets. (Image via Shutterstock)

Berlin has emerged as one of Europe’s startup magnets. (Image via Shutterstock)

Just about every city in the world is now teaming with young people (and some older ones) who are starting companies with ambitious and tech-savvy aims. This good essay by a former Facebook European executive underscores how pointless it is for everyone to compare their own region or city with Silicon Valley. Yes that hub will remain potent, but with tech transforming the entire planet there is ample reason for confidence that numerous other places can become vibrant hubs. The bigger challenge for Europe is the continuing prejudice in many countries against entrepreneurship and risk, and labor laws that frequently become punitive. They can unnecessarily increase the risk that an entrepreneur faces in starting something, raising the cost of failure substantially. (Many countries require ongoing unemployment payments for lengthy periods to a fired employee.) What’s amazing is how many great startups emerge in Europe regardless.

Read more at The Guardian

http://techonomy.com/2014/02/dont-live-silicon-valley-start-company/

Aiming To Be The Coinbase of Europe, Sweden’s Safello Raises Investment Cash


Next Story

Billing itself as the “Coinbase of Europe” Sweden based Bitcoin company Safello has raised a $600,000 investment round lead by Bitcoin advocates Erik Voorhees (co-founder of the Bitcoin company Coinapult) and Roger Ver (Angel Investor & Bitcoin evangelist), and participated in by Blockchain.info CEO Nicolas Cary and angel investors Victor & Victor. The startup has also redesigned its site for usability to position itself as ‘safest way into Bitcoin’. The startup plans to go up against major competitors in the shape of Kraken, Bitstamp, Coinbase, and BTC-E.

The cash will be used to grow in Europe and to be a ‘safe harbour’ for Bitcoin. It’s estimated that about half of the Bitcoin exchanges have disappeared since 2009.

To achieve this, Safello has registered itself with the Financial Supervisory Authority in Sweden, a country that together with Germany has been pretty clear about bitcoin taxation, and, of course, a very stable economy.

Frank Schuil, co-founder and CEO of Safello says: “Our new interface is simpler than our competitors. And we are more ‘compliant’ than the others. Our goal is keep the user interface minimalistic so it’s simpler for people to get into bitcoins.” Erik Voorhees, says Safello’s growth “has been amazing thus far.”

Stability is key in the Bitcoin market but it is hard to find right now.

Bitstamp, the manager of the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, said over the weekend that it had restored automated customer withdrawals, after they were halted for days due to a hacking attack that crippled various Bitcoin platforms.

http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/17/aiming-to-be-the-coinbase-of-europe-swedens-safello-raises-investment-cash/

Bringing business back to the UK


We have set out a long-term economic plan to secure our country’s economic future and our economy is growing. Just this week, the IMF upgraded its growth forecasts for Britain by more than any other G7 country and we have also seen the largest quarterly increase in employment since records began.

The key challenge for politicians and business leaders in Europe is how we make a success of globalisation. For years the West has been written off. People say that we are facing some sort of inevitable decline. They say we can’t make anything anymore.

I don’t believe it has to be this way.

Of course, we cannot be starry eyed about globalisation – it presents huge challenges as our economies and societies try to adapt. But neither should we take this pessimistic view.

Indeed if we make the right decisions, we may also see more of what has been a small but discernible trend where some jobs that were once offshored are coming back from East to West.

In recent years there has been a practice of offshoring where companies move production facilities to low cost countries. But there is now an opportunity for some of those jobs to come back.

A recent survey of small and medium sized businesses found that more than 1 in 10 has brought back to Britain some production in the past year – more than double the proportion sending production in the opposite direction. From food processing to fashion, from cars to computer-makers. It’s not just one sector; it’s across all sectors of the economy.

The food manufacturer Symington’s is moving its factory from China to Leeds.

Hornby the model train manufacturer is bringing some of its manufacturing from India to Britain.

Raspberry Pi computers have shipped production to Wales.

A company I visited yesterday morning – Vent-Axia – has shipped jobs from China to Crawley.

One recent forecast suggests millions of jobs could be available for re-shoring globally. To win these jobs we need to understand what is driving these changes.

Part of the story is about rising costs in the emerging markets, a natural consequence of these economies developing and their people becoming wealthier.

At the same time, there are a number of factors pulling companies back home. Some companies are choosing to locate production nearer to their consumer markets in the West. By shortening their supply chains, they can develop new products and react more quickly to changing consumer demand.

There is no doubt that when it comes to re-shoring in the US, one of the most important factors has been the development of shale gas, which is flooring US energy prices with billions of dollars of energy cost savings predicted over the next decade.

Taken together, I believe these trends have the ability to be a fresh driver of growth in Europe too. I want Britain to seize these opportunities. I think there is a chance for Britain to become the Re-Shore Nation. For years we have had UKTI out there helping our businesses to export and encouraging inward investment. Now I want to give that same dedicated specific support to helping businesses re-shore. So we are setting up a one stop shop to help businesses capitalise on the opportunities of re-shoring.

I am not saying that our economic success depends on winning some kind of race to the bottom nor should we be engaged in one. Getting decent, well-paid jobs at every level is what we are aiming for. And I believe that’s what we can get – and that re-shoring can help. When mobile network company EE recently decided to move 300 call centre jobs from the Philippines to Northern Ireland, they didn’t do it because wages were lower. They did it because productivity was higher and because the company decided it would be more successful by having a more local call centre for its customers. And as they make this move, they aren’t just creating jobs for telephone operators. They are creating jobs for managers, lawyers and technicians too.

Right now, economies in Europe have a unique opportunity to accelerate this new trend of jobs coming back home. And we should be confident that we can do this. As we do so, we should never forget one of our most important strengths. We should never undersell the core values of our liberal democracy; the rule of law, the freedom of speech and freedom of the media, property rights and accountable institutions, all vital foundations for long-term stability and commercial success.

But for re-shoring to happen we need to build on those foundations. That means settling once and for all two key arguments that risk undermining our competitiveness.

First, on the overall business environment. We need an unashamedly pro-business regulatory environment – with labour market flexibility, low jobs taxes and a willingness to pave the way for new business and new business models. We have to maintain the flexibility for companies to grow and expand.

And second, on the need for cheap and predictable sources of energy. Yes, we need renewables – these are a vital part of our future. We need nuclear as part of that energy mix too. But we also need to explore the opportunity represented by shale gas. Now I understand the concerns some people have. We need the right regulations and governments need to reassure people that nothing would go ahead if there were environmental dangers. But if this is done properly, shale gas can actually have lower emissions than imported gas.

The Confederation of British Industry and Business Europe are coming together to launch a “Blueprint for Industrial Competitiveness”. Their message is clear. Act now to seize the opportunities of re-shoring. Deal with our debts. Roll back the unnecessary regulation. And embrace the opportunities of shale gas.

Business is making the case. If we act now we can ensure our businesses, our peoples and our societies can benefit from the next phases of globalisation. The security, stability and peace of mind that those we serve yearn for can only be delivered by facing the difficult choices. We must not fail them.

Posted by:David Cameron

The Past, The Future & What This Means For Our Developing World.


Peter Thiel SXSW

There are four quadrants used to organize the past and the future views of the developing world.  These quadrants are optimistic, pessimistic, determinate and indeterminate.

optimistic139009150158316

China is currently thought to be pessimistic/determinate meaning it has a clear view of where it would like to be in twenty years but at the same time China is worried about whether or not they will get there in this modern time frame.  China is more likely to save money, then invest money over the next few decades.

“China will be a somewhat poorer version of the developed world, people will become old before they become rich”  –  Peter Thiel, Co-founder, PayPal.

America is thought to have fell in to a quadrant called indeterminate optimism.  Presently, the United States is believed to have both a low amount of investment and a low amount of saving, this is arguably the most unstable position for a country to be in.

“One of the strange things about indeterminate optimism is that its the quadrant that has low savings and low investment.  Is it possible for the future to be better when no one saves and no one invests? Because no one is thinking and everyone is outsourcing all of the thinking to other people.”  –  Peter Thiel, Co-Founder, PayPal.

Both Japan and Europe are thought to be indeterminate/pessimistic meaning the future does not look bright and no body is sure what to do about it.

Let’s Have a Dream


2014 is shaping up to be a bad year. Across the world, even though there seems to be the outline on the horizon of the resumption of economic growth and a recovery in investment in the United States and in some emerging countries such as Mexico, Nigeria and Indonesia, the reality is that essentially, next year, this growth will not be financed except by an increase in public debt and by printing money. Inequalities will be increasingly wider; the benefits of growth will be increasingly confiscated by a minority; manifestations of protectionism increasingly numerous and effective. Nothing will be more conducive to the exasperation of citizens and the anger of extremists. In particular, in the United States, a choice will have to be made between continued monetary growth and tightened up budgeting, which can, in both cases, cause disasters.

From a military point of view conflicts across the globe can be expected, some of which already exist – in the Sahel, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Southern Sudan – as well as further threats of conflicts – between China and Japan, between Iran and Israel. For the environment, increasingly serious natural disasters can be expected, caused by changes in climate.

On a European level, growth will not materialize, unemployment will not be reduced, the standard of living will continue to stagnate or fall, public debt will get out of control in Greece, Portugal and then in Italy and France; elections held in May 2014 will lead almost everywhere to a rise of extreme parties that will influence the decisions of the next European Parliament and will paralyze any federal progress. The recent drumbeat of banking union will turn out to be unworkable, in the absence of a revision of the Treaties; and the entire credibility of the achievement of the euro will once again be called into question. Never the future of Europe will have looked bleaker.

In France, the year is shaping up to be even worse, with growth in the French economy expected at zero, which means a decrease of purchasing power and an increase in unemployment; deficits not reduced; a rising debt; a racist party becoming the first French party in the European elections, after entering a large number of municipal councils, a « brain-drain » of the main players, a reversal of inward investment, a beleaguered political majority, tempted to find a way out by becoming more radical. France will then become the target of attacks from all markets, until brought under the control of a humiliating troika.

This worst case scenario is the most likely. Yet history teaches us that, when something in the future seems certain to us, it means it will not happen. So one may start to dream that 2014 will end better than it is shaping up.

US growth could at last rely on budgetary decisions that are finally reasonable; technological change could begin to have an impact on growth and employment. In particular, significant innovations will be able to improve significantly the efficiency of energy use. Growth could break the vicious circle of protectionism. Conflicts could also be kept away, thanks to the efficient intervention of French and African forces; and once peace has returned this could help the countries of the Sahel to connect to Nigerian economic growth. For Europe, a European election less radical than expected could lead to the implementation of a genuine federal project, distinguishing between the euro area and the European Union, which both Turkey and Ukraine could join.

Finally, in France, we are starting to dream of a president who as early as January will be taking courageous decisions, in order to regain control of the Socialist Parliamentarian Group and to obtain from them at last a reform of lifelong training, far beyond the timid agreement of the social partners. Those partners might take a close look at government expenditure, and launch courageous savings, in particular by removing the departmental level. Such action, accompanied with a clear and sincere implementation of a project for the country and Europe, can bring about a step backwards for the National Front, and a return of the confidence of foreign investors.

The outcome of 2014 will therefore be decided at the latest by the end of February, for better or for worse…

In a world more dangerous than ever, everyone will be increasingly tempted to find solace in his personal happiness. Even if this makes him forget about others, caring only for himself, leaving his country. By acting this way, we would be wrong: egoism is just a way of delaying deadlines. No matter what happens, we are not spectators of the world. Now is the time for us to act, through vote, revolt, smile, to make 2014 a very good year.

Photo: Tatiana Popova/shutterstock.com

E-Commerce Business Lender iwoca Raises $8.2M To Expand In The UK And Europe


Next Story

iwoca, which provides short-term loans to online retailers based in the UK, announced today that it has raised £5 million (about $8.2 million) from Global Founders Capital, a new private investment fund launched by the Samwer brothers of Rocket Internet fame, and Luxembourg-based Redline Capital Management. All of iwoca’s existing investors also returned for the current round, which brings the total iwoca has raised so far to about £7 million (about $11.5 million). The startup, which is based in London, says it will use its latest funding to scale up its UK operations and expand into Europe.

In a statement, iwoca co-founder and CEO Christoph Reich said that the new investment will allow his company to provide short-term financing to 5,000 more small businesses in the UK in 2014. The investment will also give iwoca the opportunity to leverage the Samwer brothers’ experience in building high-growth businesses.

Their investment in iwoca is interesting because Berlin-based Rocket Internet has focused lately on pouring funds into e-commerce startups in emerging markets like Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. But although retail sales in Europe have slowed since the 2008 global financial crisis, there are signs that consumers in the U.K. are now more willing to open their pocketbooks as the economy gradually recovers. E-commerce businesses in the U.K. were expected to reach a total sales value of £87 billion in 2013, representing 12 percent year-over-year growth, according to research firms IMRG and Capgemini.

Rieche said that the new investment will allow iwoca to tap into a market of more than 4.6 million businesses in the UK: “This latest round of funding will allow us to leverage our existing operations and drive growth. Our highly innovative approach to data-analysis and credit scoring coupled with Oliver Samwer’s experience in franchise building puts us in an incredibly strong position to take advantage of the structural change within the business lending industry.”

The funding may also help iwoca compete against Ezbob, which was launched in September 2012 and has raised a total of $5 million in funding so far. Both companies cater to eBay and Amazon sellers, as well as vendors on other online platforms, and use data- and credit-scoring tools to provide loan applicants with quick decisions.

The €150 million Global Founders Capital fund will invest in Internet businesses throughout the world at different stages of funding and is run by Marc and Oliver Samwer, along with Fabian Siegel, the co-founder of Delivery Hero.

In a statement, Siegel said “We invest in proven concepts with huge market potential. The team at iwoca has demonstrated extraordinary execution skills and are committed to breaking new ground in business lending. We will put our expertise in building internet companies and our global network at their disposal to help them drive growth.”

http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/09/e-commerce-business-lender-iwoca-raises-8-2m-to-expand-in-the-uk-and-europe/

European Trademark Office Says Pinterest Doesn’t Own ‘Pinterest’ – Social News Startup Premium Interest Does


Next Story

Pinterest raised a $225 million round in October 2013 to help fuel its international expansion, but a recent ruling in Europe could prove to be a hiccup in that strategy. The U.S.-based social networking site has lost a challenge it made to claim the Pinterest trademark in the region, with a European trademark court ruling in favor of the current owner, a London-based social news aggregation startup called Premium Interest and its founder Alex Hearn.

It means that if Pinterest wants to continue to do business in Europe, “Pinterest will have to change their name if they don’t get a licence from him,” according to Adam Morallee, a partner at law firm Mishcon de Reya, which represented Hearn and his company. Hearn also owns similar rights on the Pinterest trademark in other markets such as Australia.

A spokesperson for Pinterest says the company will be fighting the case. “We plan to appeal the recent decision,” he told TechCrunch.

For now, however, the ruling — made by the European Commission’s Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, Trade Marks and Designs Division — notes that Pinterest’s claim was “rejected in its entirety.”

Part of reason why, it seems, has to do with timing: Pinterest was already active by the time Premium Interest filed for a trademark in January 2012, but it had yet to formally enter the European market, let alone file a trademark. In fact, Premium Interest filed its trademark in Europe some two months before Pinterest had even gotten its act together in the U.S. to file for a trademark there, notes the blog Mark Matters.

The decision, which is dated November but was only made public last month, also notes other issues that must feel like frustrating oversights for Pinterest at this point.

For example, Pinterest provided documents to support substantiation of its earlier, non-registered mark. But it did so several months after the OHIM’s submission deadlines had passed, rendering them invalid.

The OHIM also determined that documents that were submitted within deadline only proved that the media was buzzing about Pinterest — but not that the general public in the UK or elsewhere in Europe were — or simply didn’t provide enough detail to show they supported the relevant timeframes.

The ruling — embedded in full below — will mean that Pinterest needs to pay court costs (€300, or $409) but no trademark infringement damages as yet.

Pinterest could still get an opening in the case on an appeal — when it would presumably not miss the submission deadline and provide documents that more clearly proved that it was already a well-enough-known entity in the UK and elsewhere in Europe before January 2012 (when Premium Interest first filed its mark).

Done correctly, such documents could help Pinterest work around the “first to file” rule that was the decider this time around. But there is a catch here, too.

“Pinterest may well appeal but the rules of OHIM are that no new evidence can be put forward,” Morallee tells us. “To win the case they have to show they had rights before Premium Interest in Europe. OHIM refused that on the basis of the evidence [Pinterest] put forward. The fact they are well known in the U.S. is not relevant. What matters is their rights in Europe. And they didn’t have any at the relevant time.”

Pinterest has been a strong defender of different aspects of its branding, from its Pin-it button through to its curvy P logo that looks a bit like the P that social networking app Path uses. It’s also actively discouraged any partners to use any variation of the words “pin” or “pinterest” as puns in their names. So you can imagine that it will not give up its trademark on “Pinterest” across Europe so lightly.

On Premium Interest’s side, Hearn says filing the Pinterest mark was “standard practice to protect intellectual property once we start to work on it.”

“We do have great respect Pinterest Inc’s worldwide rights, but also we respect our rights too!” he says. “There is no mistake their growth has been rapid over the past 18 months, from unknown to megastars, and this has posed the problem in trademark use we have today in the EU and beyond.”

Hearn would not comment directly on questions of whether he would accept a licensing settlement. “I hope there is a route through, as no-one likes good businesses to be impeded! But also it is difficult when there is a rapidly expanding company to waive your protected rights, especially when its your baby,” he says.

What’s ironic is that while Pinterest really has been rapidly growing and gaining traction with consumers, Premium Interest has yet to launch, or use any variation of the “Pinterest” trademark that it owns.

Premium Interest, according to its site, has been “developed by a team of individuals based in London, UK who are dedicated to providing a new way to view news, ranked and selected by the reader, not the editor… The vision is that only the most imaginative news and debates will be captured, giving a wholly different insight on traditional news sourcing.”

Hearn tells me that he first coined the use of Pinterest in late 2009/2010, when he and colleagues started to work on some of the early experimental algorithms. But it wasn’t until 2011/2012 that the site appeared online. “We have been very busy the past year developing the mobile apps for launch [this year],” he tells me. Premium Interest’s website, Hearn says, is “acting as a test concept site.” For its interface, it happens to use a similar mosaic-style flow to Pinterest’s.

premium interest

While all this feels like a David and Goliath story (or perhaps the one of a lion with a pesky thorn, depending on what side you take), Hearn himself is not entirely green.

He is a repeat entrepreneur and inventor who is also behind a startup called Kind Consumer. It’s a far cry from social media and software services, though: one of its first products, a nicotine inhalation device to replace cigarettes, is currently under license to BAT and undergoing scientific and clinical testing.

http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/02/pinterest-loses-trademark-claim-in-europe-to-premium-interest-a-social-news-aggregator/

Analysis: AT&T keen on Europe, investors wary of merits


The following excerpt is from Reuters!

The AT&T logo is pictured by its store in Carlsbad, California

 

(Reuters) – AT&T Inc has been exploring a possible bid for a European carrier such as Vodafone Group Plc, but faces resistance from some investors concerned about the continent’s cut-throat competition and complex regulations.

AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson has been talking up Europe, saying on Tuesday that he sees “a huge opportunity for somebody” to upgrade European networks and reap the kinds of profits from high-speed wireless services already seen in the United States.

Telecoms bankers familiar with the matter say the No. 2 U.S. wireless operator has been considering acquiring a pan-European carrier with possible targets including Vodafone, as well as Britain’s largest mobile operator EE and Spain’s Telefonica.