Global Founders Capital: A new USD193M stage-agnostic fund by the Samwer brothers
March 18, 2013 by Terence LEE
Entrepreneurship, investments, business management — the Samwer brothers, on the backs of Rocket Internet and Europeans Founders Fund, have succeeded in them all. But there’s more to come for these German copy kings, particularly in the area of venture capital investments.
Today, we see further glimpse of their global ambition with the launch of Global Founders Capital (GFC), a new investment firm started by two of the brothers — Oliver and Mark Samwer — as well as Fabian Siegel, a Germany-based entrepreneur that founded Delivery Hero, an online food delivery service with a presence in 12 countries.
In a press release, GFC states that it will invest in all stages — from seed to late (idea stage startups need not apply) — in businesses that can scale to a large size either in one market or by expanding to other countries. The Munich-headquartered fund will be EUR 150M (USD 193M) in size.
“We know what entrepreneurs need when looking for investors – our vision is to become a valued added part of the team and provide more than just capital. Our pledge to the entrepreneur is to be fast, pragmatic and fair,” said Fabian.
While the fund’s website does not provide any indication of what sort of startups it’ll invest in, the Samwer Brothers fortunately have a long investment trail to draw inferences from.
E-commerce will certainly be a major theme for GFC, given the experience of the three partners in various online stores. Rocket Internet operates mainly in the e-commerce space and runs some of the largest online retail businesses in Asia — Zalora, Lazada, and Foodpanda just to name a few.
At European Founders Fund, the Samwer brothers have invested in at least 15 European e-commerce startups. These companies are active in verticals like baby products, lamps, and shoes, just to name a few. So given their expertise in e-commerce, I expect the bulk of GFC’s portfolio to be startups from this area.
The more interesting question would be whether the partners would be willing to venture out of their comfort zone of online retail.
I don’t see any reason why not. The Samwer brothers have a track record of investing in a variety of Internet startups at anywhere from Series A to Series D.
I would expect GFC to continue this trend — it’s perhaps a way for the Samwer Brothers to diversify their money since the bulk of Rocket Internet’s activities is in e-commerce. According to Fabian, GFC operates independently from Rocket Internet, and as such their activities would not always overlap.
Also, he has stated that the firm would look at opportunities that Rocket Internet have missed or can’t get involved in, either by sector or geography.
A wildcard, however, would be whether the venture capital community and entrepreneurs in the United States and parts of the world would be willing to work with GFC.
The Samwer brothers appear to have a bad reputation among venture capitalists in the United States — since the country generally despises copying. Russian billionaire entrepreneur Yuri Milner was also reported to have backed out of investing in Rocket Internet ventures because of its aggressive management practices.
While their reputation appears to have taken a hit, that has not stopped them from raising money for Rocket Internet — its latest ventures involved funding from JP Morgan, Access Industries, Summit Partners, Kinnevik, and Tengelmann.
The Samwer Brothers, polarizing as they are, certainly has fans.
So it’s not as if GFC is not open to investing in all kinds of startups — they certainly are — it’s whether these cutting edge startups want the Samwer Brothers involved at all.
Although they have invested in Silicon Valley companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Zynga, these investments were made around 2008 — way before the US startup community started hating on them as vociferously as they do now. It remains to be seen if this resistance will prevent them from dealflow to the most promising US startups.
In the end, may be the case that GFC would end up getting in bed with startups that abide by a similar code: Execution and arbitrage focused, revenue-driven, and aggressive.
Visit VentureDex for more information about funding options for startups in Asia.
Company: Rocket Internet
Rocket Internet is a Berlin headquartered company that is well-known for cloning successful online startups (usually from the US), replicating them elsewhere, and turning them into large, profitable businesses. It is active in Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Myanmar, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, India, and Pakistan.View profile: RocketInternet More articles: RocketInternet
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About The Author
Terence LEE - Editor
Terence writes mainly about technology trends and startups in Asia. He believes in crafting smart content: Not just a regurgitation of text, but well thought-out pieces that serve the reader using a combination of data, design, narratives, analysis, and visual impact. His articles have been published on Venturebeat, Yahoo!, Straits Times, Today, and The Online Citizen. He also co-founded NewNation.sg, a satirical news site covering Singapore affairs. Engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Terence LEE