April 14, 2023

‘French Bill Gates’ closes second VC fund at $250m

Blisce has already backed Welcome to the Jungle and Too Good To Go

Eleanor Warnock

2 min read

Alexandre Mars (Credit: Héloïse Morel)

France’s serial entrepreneur Alexandre Mars — dubbed the “French Bill Gates” — has just closed a second fund for his VC firm Blisce at $250m. Mars is best known for selling companies to Publicis and BlackBerry. 

Where will Blisce II’s money be spent?

  • Blisce typically invests at Series A to C, with an average investment size of $15m-20m, but the firm can write cheques as large as $30m and as small as $5m. 
  • The fund invests half in Europe and half in the US. 
  • About 20% of the fund is reserved for follow-on investments. 
  • The firm has backed ecommerce, healthcare, financial services, food, media and entertainment companies. In 2023, it wants to focus on the following trends: “Consumerisation of healthcare and enterprise, generative AI, future of commerce, electrification of the home and sustainability, technology/services for an ageing population.” 

What is Blisce’s track record?

  • Blisce has backed 24 companies and deployed a total of $468m since its founding in 2014. Like many emerging firms, Blisce originally just invested on a deal-by-deal basis (during which time it backed Spotify and Pinterest) and then launched its first fund in 2019. That fund totalled $183m, with investments including Headspace and Dice. 
  • The current fund has already backed eight companies including Too Good To Go and Welcome to the Jungle. 

Who is backing Blisce?

  • LPs in the fund include French state bank Bpifrance, PE firm SWEN Capital Partners, financial services conglomerate Seb Group, BNP Paribas Cardif, L'Oréal Group and family office investors.

Sustainability focus

  • While the majority of VCs work closely with their portfolio companies to help them grow faster, Blisce’s portfolio work is very much focused on impact and climate strategies like helping companies measure emissions and setting up a plan to cut those emissions. 
  • Blisce’s term sheets also include commitments from portfolio companies to “analyse, define, measure and improve their impact and sustainability”. The firm then helps companies analyse social and environmental impacts and risks, and asks companies to report issues to their board twice a year and report on objectives once a year. 
  • Blisce got its B Corp certification in 2020. 
  • Each investment team member at Blisce pledges 20% of their carried interest to charity — 50% to Mars’s Epic Foundation and 50% to charities they choose. The Epic Foundation was founded by Mars in 2014 and donates to organisations helping youth and children and the climate. According to the website, it’s donated $55m. Team members also can donate 5% of their paid time annually to volunteering.

Eleanor Warnock

Eleanor Warnock is Sifted’s deputy editor and cohost of Startup Europe — The Sifted Podcast. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn