Great opportunities lay ahead for European tech-founders, argues German-American businessman and venture capitalist Albert Wenger, managing partner at one of the top venture capital firms in tech, in the Bits & Pretzels Podcast. Politicians and regulators finally have to step up their startup-game.
Not many Bavarians rise up the ranks of tech like Albert Wenger did. Today, he acts as managing partner at Union Square Ventures, one of the top returning venture capital funds in the world, with $1 billion under management. Notable investments include Series A rounds in Etsy (IPO 2015), Twilio (IPO 2016), MongoDB (IPO 2017) as well as Behance (acquired by Adobe) and Firebase (acquired by Google).
In the Bits & Pretzels Podcast, Wenger pushes for more European entrepreneurship and better rules and guidelines. Albert thinks that European regulation is hurting founders, especially with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a data protection and privacy law that was implemented in May 2018:
"Many people, myself included, predicted that GDPR was going to help Google and Facebook and hurt startups. And it did."
He also explains the rise of venture capital in Europe that tripled within the last 4 years, according to the "2019 State of the European Tech Report" by Atomico. For this year the investment firm predicts 35 billion dollar invested. He, personally, has a very specific way to look for future possibilities to invest:
"I became interested in how smartphones can help women with their sexual reproductive health. I was like: `I should find all companies that do those things.` I focused on two companies: Glow from San Francisco and Clue from Berlin. And then searching based on the idea ultimately led me to Clue."
In the podcast the experienced investor also shares best practices for founders about how to go international ("XXXX") and to overcome the greatest challenges when entering the US market. Having a trusted brand, caring about customer's data and privacy could become a competitive advantage in the age of privacy-debates and the Facebook debacle, especially for European founders, Wenger argues in the podcast.
"Hotel California” for data: You can check-in, but you can never leave"
About Albert Wenger
Wenger started his life in tech when he won the German highschool computer science competition at the age of 18. He graduated from Havard and earned his PhD in Information Technology from the MIT in 1999. In 2006 he joined Union Square Ventures (USV) as a venture partner following the sale of Delicious to Yahoo in 2005 where he had been the president. He became a General Partner in 2008 and a Managing Partner in 2017.
03:16: US startups are copying Europe’s ideas
07:00: Storytelling eats location for breakfast
11:48: Why Albert Wenger invests in European founders
16:19: Building a trusted brand is a competitive advantage
20:58: Uber, WeWork: learning from unicorn mistakes
29:28: “I was born in Nuremberg”
32:56: A fan of Austin Powers
34:52: Europe has self-inflicted mistakes on regulation
39:40: “Hotel California” for data: You can never leave
44:56: US & China: Two digital superpowers fighting
48:54: “The amazing food my mom makes!”
53:41: How to bridge social divide
The Bits & Pretzels Podcast is produced by Regina Körner, Migo Fricke and Hubert Honold with the help of Janek Postpischiel.