Atomico has closed its fourth fund with $765 million, making it one of Europe’s single largest venture capital funds.
The firm began raising the fund eleven months ago (we’d flagged it for you after searching the SEC filings). And while it represents a sizable step up from Atomico’s third fund, which closed with $476.6 million in 2013, its pace of fundraising highlights a major difference between Europe and the U.S., where LPs often feel pressured into committing quickly to top funds.
Investors had plenty of reason to be excited about Atomico. Its current stakes include Finnish game maker Rovio, as well as fellow “unicorn” companies payments company Klarna and travel site GoEuro. It also saw huge wins when Climate Corp. sold to Monsanto for roughly $1 billion in 2013 and again last year when early portfolio company Supercell sold a majority stake in its business to China’s Tencent for $8.6 billion.
But general partner Mattias Ljungman notes that the U.S. has a “much longer tradition” of investing in venture capital firms. Meanwhile, institutions in Europe are “sort of now starting to look at it. If you compare it with private equity [where investors tend to buy entire companies, then either take them public or try to sell them for a higher price], that also took time [in Europe].” He says. “But once investors started to understand it, the amount of capital they began deploying became significant and even outpaced what we saw in the U.S.”
Atomico thinks Europe could reach the same kind of breakout velocity in funding soon. In the meantime, the firm — originally founded by Skype cofounder Niklas Zennstrom — is now one of the biggest venture firms in all of Europe, with its central office in London but people on the ground in Beijing, Tokyo and Sao Paulo, New York and Stockholm (where Ljungman happened to be when we spoke).
Atomico is also one of the biggest firms in terms of the services it provides founders, it likes to note.
Indeed, over the years, the firm has developed a platform that’s not so unlike that of Silicon Valley rival Andreessen Horowitz, with an in-house “value creation team” that includes seven partners who advise on marketing, communications and more and who support the firm’s eight full-time partners. Atomico also employs various associates, advisors, and a head of research who doubles as a principal with the firm. (In case you are curious, a health percentage of its employees are women.)
Atomico also hosts theme-specific events, something that “isn’t something that people in Europe have spent a lot of time” thinking about, in terms of the value it can provide for founders.
Asked if its financial base has changed much over the years, Ljungman says the firm’s LP base is made up of pension funds and sovereign wealth funds and that a small but growing percentage of its relationships are with companies that see the firm as a bridge between older and new parts of the economy and want to better understand how technology is likely to disrupt their businesses before it happens.
He says the strategy remains unchanged however. Atomico is focused on Series A rounds primarily. Its new, larger fund also gives it more opportunity to do B and C financings as well — rounds that, just as in the U.S. — seem to be getting bigger all the time.
Pictured above: Niklas Zennstrom