Lastminute.com’s Hoberman, Balderton Prepare New Funds in U.K.

  • Hoberman part of team behind launch of Firstminute Capital
  • Balderton has begun preparation for its sixth VC fund

A brace of well-known U.K. technology investors are preparing to raise new capital, a sign that the European tech industry is continuing to attract new funding.

Brent Hoberman, co-founder of Lastminute.com, has begun raising financing for a new London-based tech fund for European startups, while Balderton Capital has started preparing for the launch of its sixth fund.

Hoberman has co-founded Firstminute Capital, which will invest in early stage companies, and has secured backing from Atomico Management Ltd., a prominent U.K. venture capital firm which has previously backed Supercell, Rovio and Climate Corp.

Spencer Crawley, an investment adviser at Founders Factory, a startup incubator founded by Hoberman early last year, is also leading the fund.

“When Brent told us about Firstminute, we wanted to be his first investor,” said Niklas Zennstrom, partner and CEO at Atomico and a co-founder of Skype Inc., in an emailed statement, citing Hoberman’s track record in tech investment.

Hoberman is also an adviser and co-investment partner at Atomico, while in December Alexis Bonte, an early employee of Lastminute.com, joined Atomico as a senior adviser.

A spokeswoman for Firstminute declined to comment on the potential size of the fund.

Hoberman co-founded Lastminute.com, once one of Europe’s largest online travel services, which was was bought by Southlake, Texas-based Sabre Holdings Corp. for $1 billion in 2005.

Sixth Fund

Venture capital firm Balderton Capital, along with Atomico one of the best-known tech investors based in London, has also put in motion plans for its sixth fund.

Balderton filed documents in Luxembourg for the new fund in November, according to regulatory filings. A spokesman for the fund declined to comment on its size or timing.

Balderton’s previous fund raised $305 million in April 2014, focusing on young tech firms in Europe. The London-based investor has about $2.3 billion under management and a number of notable investments under its belt since its spin-out from Benchmark Capital in 2007. The early stage investor backed Magic Pony Technology, an AI start up sold to Twitter Inc. for $150 million in June.

Strong Start

European venture-capital investment reached $3 billion over the last three months of the year, up 22% quarter-on-quarter, according to research from PricewaterhouseCoopers and CB Insights.

Private equity and venture capital firms also invested more than 6.7 billion pounds ($8.1 billion) in U.K.-based companies in 2016, up from 5.6 billion pounds in 2015, according to a survey conducted by the U.K. capital’s promotional company, London & Partners. 

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