Last year we released the inaugural list of European Midas Trendsetters whose multiple, early bets across high-growth industries helped land them a spot on the Midas List Europe. We’re pleased to follow up with another list of trendsetters this year that highlights both newcomers and incumbents who continue to make waves in the European VC landscape.
The early months of 2022 marked the end of the unprecedented growth and accompanying high valuations we’ve witnessed in technology over the last few years. They ushered in a new era defined by less certain economic and geopolitical environments, accompanied by the ensuing dramatic fall of company values. That said, market cycles are nothing new to venture capitalists. Past recessionary periods have brought forward exceptional entrepreneurs and young companies that have achieved success and growth even amid macro and market instability. Which investors were savvy enough to pick them before they showcased their resiliency in the face of a significant market adjustment?
The list below represents the investors who capitalized on companies positioned at the forefront of modern-day trends—from the birth of new markets, like the creator economy, to the rapid adoption of others, like enterprise, e-commerce, fintech and delivery.
1. Danny Rimer, Index Ventures Europe (#1)
Danny Rimer, up from spot #11 on last year’s list, joined Index Ventures in 2002. He established his firm’s London office and later opened their San Francisco location. With a passion for art and design, he focuses on the creator economy.
Described by Glossier CEO and founder Emily Weiss as “a businessman with an artist’s sensitivity and empathy,” Rimer has stayed true to his passion for design and the creator economy with portfolio investments in Squarespace, Discord, Figma and Patreon.
Rimer first met Figma Co-founder Dylan Field when Field was a 19-year-old intern at Flipboard, and only a few years later cut his first seed-stage check into the company. He went on to invest in every subsequent round of fundraising, further cementing his conviction in the company. In September 2022, Figma made headlines when Adobe ADBE +2.8% announced its intent to acquire the company in a massive, $20 billion deal—potentially one of the largest acquisitions of a private tech business in history.
In May 2021, Rimer enjoyed a notable portfolio exit as website builder Squarespace went public in a direct listing at a market value of $6.6 billion. Rimer is certainly a first mover in the European VC landscape, and one can expect to see his investments in companies that are driving the creator economy continue to outperform.
- Discord (creator economy)
- Farfetch (online marketplace)
- Figma (creator economy)
- Patreon (creator economy)
- Squarespace (creator economy)
2. Laurel Bowden, 83North (#4)
Laurel Bowden is a founder and partner at 83North, with 15 years of experience with the firm. Previously listed on the 2020 Midas List Europe, Bowden reemerged this year near the top of the list in spot #4.
Bowden was an early investor in German process mining company Celonis, participating in its $27.5 million Series A round in 2016. The company announced an eye-popping $1 billion raise this year in August with a $13 billion post-money valuation, even amid the broader VC pullback on large fundraises. As IPO rumors continue to swirl, Celonis remains a frontrunner in the European tech space.
Bowden’s other notable bets include Wolt, the Finnish food delivery company, where she participated in a $30 million funding round in 2019 and ultimately became the company’s biggest shareholder by participating in subsequent rounds. DoorDash DASH +3.3% and Wolt announced plans to merge in November 2021 and at the time, Bowden’s stake in Wolt was valued at $1.2 billion, with 83North poised to become a significant shareholder in the merged company.
Another of Bowden’s portfolio companies, French online marketplace software developer Mirakl, raised a $555 million Series E in September 2021, with a valuation exceeding $3.5 billion. The funding round extended Mirakl’s enterprise marketplace category leadership amid explosive growth in e-commerce and the platform business model.
Bowden has had the foresight to invest in many leading SaaS and e-commerce companies throughout the pandemic, and we look forward to seeing more from her in the coming years.
- Celonis (data processing)
- Mirakl (online marketplace)
- Wolt (food delivery)
3. Michael Eisenberg, Aleph Europe (#16)
Michael Eisenberg is a general partner at Aleph, an early-stage venture capital firm that is focused on partnering with great Israeli entrepreneurs. Eisenberg was previously a general partner at Benchmark Capital, where he was responsible for the firm’s Israeli portfolio.
On top of his role at Aleph, Eisenberg is an avid writer, often contributing to his blog “Six Kids and a Full Time Job,” and Hebrew-language daily business newspaper TheMarker. He is the author of the “Hummus Manifesto,” the seminal piece on Israel’s innovation scene, as well as other books.
Eisenberg’s early bet on fintech startup Melio helped propel him to the #16 spot on this year’s Midas List Europe. Eisenberg met Melio co-founder Matan Bar when he was leading consumer payments at eBay EBAY +2.1%/PayPal just a few blocks away from the Aleph office. When Eisenberg heard the pitch, he was convinced he was the right long-term investment partner for the company, and in 2019 signed a check to fund the startup. Fast forward to September 2021, and Melio closed a massive $250 million Series D funding round, tripling the company’s value to $4 billion.
Eisenberg’s other early bets include CRM HoneyBook’s Series A round in 2014—last valued at $2.4 billion as part of a $250 million in Series E funding round in 2021—and location analytics startup Placer.ai’s Series A round in 2020—last valued at $1 billion as part of a $100 million venture funding round in early 2022.
- HoneyBook (CRM)
- Melio (fintech)
- Placer.ai (AI analytics)
4. Fredrik Cassel, Creandum (#6)
Fredrik Cassel is a general partner at Creandum, the Stockholm-based firm he joined as an analyst in 2003 just six months after its founding. Since, he has led the firm’s work with several industry-defining companies, placing early bets on companies that have seen some of Europe’s largest exits in the last few years.
Up from spot #10 last year, one of Cassel’s most recent and notable exits includes Depop, a peer-to-peer social e-commerce resale platform. After co-leading Depop’s Series A funding round six years ago, he benefitted when the company was acquired by Etsy in July 2021 for a whopping $1.6 billion.
Cassel famously led Creandum’s investment in Spotify’s 2008 Series A round after 18 months of following the company and was personally Spotify’s 704th user on the platform. Ten years later, Spotify went public at a $29.5 billion valuation and returned the firm’s second fund seven times.
Other notable investments include game-based learning platform Kahoot! Cassel led Creandum’s investment in Kahoot!’s $20 million Series A round in 2017. When the company listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange in 2021, it yielded great returns to early investors like Cassel with a roughly $7 billion market capitalization. However, its recent poor performance amid the general downturn in tech stocks has led other, later-stage investors to walk away at a loss.
In his role at Creandum, Cassel has been a very early backer of many startups that have risen to become household brands across the world.
- Depop (fashion e-commerce)
- Kahoot! (edtech)
- Spotify (music streaming)
5. Sonali De Rycker, Accel Partners (#14)
Accel Partner Sonali De Rycker joined the firm in 2008 and specializes in consumer internet, software and fintech. Prior to Accel, Sonali was a partner at Atlas Venture where she invested primarily in internet and SaaS businesses out of London.
Given her background in SaaS as a first mover, it’s no wonder De Rycker benefited significantly from the cloud and fintech tsunami over the last few years. While primarily known for her 2011 investment in Spotify, De Rycker has continued her run on Midas List Europe with stellar fintech investments.
Monzo, a digital-only bank platform, was created in 2015 to combat the core frustrations plaguing banking customers for decades—poor service, low trust and onerous fees. De Rycker helped spearhead her firm’s investment in Monzo, co-leading a £85 million round in 2018. Just three years later, the company announced a massive $500 million Series H financing that valued the company at $4.5 billion.
With fintech companies being hit harder than some others in the tech sector this year, De Rycker is the kind of established investor companies want in their court to weather the downturn.
- Monzo (fintech)
- Spotify (music streaming)
6. Filip Dames, Cherry Ventures (#18)
Filip Dames, founding partner at Cherry Ventures, makes his debut on the Midas List Europe this year at spot #18. A self-proclaimed founder at heart, Dames cofounded Zalando, a leading online platform for fashion and lifestyle, leaving the company around the time of its massive $6.8 billion 2014 IPO to focus on Cherry Ventures.
Used car online marketplace Auto1’s €8 billion 2021 IPO played a huge role in Dames’ successful debut on the Midas List Europe this year. Dames was first introduced to Auto1 cofounder Hakan Koc during his brief stint as an entrepreneur-in-residence on Dames’ team at Zalando. Not long after meeting, Cherry Ventures wrote a small check supporting the seed round of Auto1 and—despite countless secondary opportunities—remained an investor from day one to IPO.
Dames’ other early bets include investing in brand acquisition firm SellerX, where he was one of the first to invest, and in Juni’s Series A round, raised to help the financial platform for e-commerce entrepreneurs grow by tripling the size of its team by the end of 2022.
Dames has certainly leveraged his own experience growing digital retail businesses to become one of the preeminent investors in Europe for all things marketplace related.
- Auto1 (digital marketplace)
- Juni (payments)
- SellerX (digital marketplace)
7. Ophelia Brown, Blossom Capital (#23)
Another new entrant on this year’s Midas List Europe, Ophelia Brown is the founder and partner of Blossom Capital. Hailing from Index Ventures, Brown never subscribed to the Silicon Valley mantra that great companies could only be built within proximity to Sand Hill Road. Applying her appetite for risk to a new market, Brown founded Blossom Capital to fuel a new generation of founders in Europe who were just as ambitious and talented as those in the Valley.
Limiting investments to five to six Series A rounds per year, Blossom Capital aims to give the full weight of its expertise to each company it partners with. This includes payments company Checkout.com, where Blossom participated in a $230 million Series A round in 2019. In early 2022, Checkout.com raised a massive $1 billion Series D valuing the company at $40 billion as it focuses on a major U.S. market push.
Other notable early bets include proptech company Zego, online no-code forms, quizzes and surveys builder Typeform and talent lifecycle management company Beamery.
- Beamery (recruiting)
- Checkout.com (payments)
- Typeform (survey builder)
- Zego (proptech)