December 14, 2022

Bernard Arnault: Meet the startups backed by the world’s new richest man

Arnault invests in startups through VC firm Aglaé Ventures

Freya Pratty

2 min read

Bernard Arnault. Photo used under Creative Commons licence.

The world’s got a new richest man. Twitter and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been knocked off the top spot by Frenchman Bernard Arnault, the chair and CEO of luxury goods group LVMH.

Shares in Tesla have fallen 50% since April, slicing about $7bn off Musk’s net worth this week alone, according to Forbes’s real-time billionaires list. Don't feel too much sympathy — he’s still left with a healthy $177bn — but it means Musk is now in second place to Arnault, who’s worth $188bn.

Musk’s interest in tech startups is well-documented. Less well known is Arnault’s backing of them. 

Arnault made his money as the cofounder, chairman and chief executive of LVMH (that stands for Louis Vuitton, Moët and Hennessy), the world's largest luxury goods company. LVMH owns 75 labels, everything from Bulgari to Givenchy. 


Groupe Arnault

Arnault’s family office, Groupe Arnault, has been backing tech companies since the 1990s. It backed Netflix in 1999, Spotify in 2014 and Airbnb in 2015. 

More recently, it also backed Lyft, Databricks, Noom and Slack.

Aglaé Ventures

Since 2017, Groupe Arnault, now called Agache, has invested in startups via venture capital firm Aglaé. 

Aglaé Ventures says it invests from €100k up to €100m in “asset-light activities and fast-growing tech companies at all stages”. According to its LinkedIn, the firm is particularly interested in marketplaces, SaaS, content platforms and digital native brands. 

Dealroom data shows Aglaé has taken part in 65 rounds in total, worth, combined with co-investors’ cash, a total of $3.4bn.

Nearly all of Aglaé’s European portfolio is French, though it says on its website that it invests globally in Series B to pre-IPO companies. The highest valued European company in the Aglaé portfolio, according to Dealroom, is France’s Back Market, the secondhand tech marketplace with a $5.7bn valuation. 

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The firm has backed three other unicorns, all based in Paris: DIY and gardening community ManoMano; photographer marketplace Meero and Ankorstore, which connects marketplaces with boutique stores.

Arnault gets into crypto?

Earlier this year, The Block reported that Aglaé was set to launch a dedicated crypto fund — though that was in August, before the crypto winter fully set in. The fund was set to be between €100m and €110m in size. 

Aglaé appointed former CoinFund exec Vanessa Grellet and ex-Aave chief operating officer Jordan Lazaro Gustave, reportedly to lead on crypto investments.

Aglaé declined to comment at the time and there’s been no official launch since, so we’ll have to watch this space to see which sectors take Arnault’s fancy next. 

Sifted has reached out to Aglaé for comment.

Freya Pratty

Freya Pratty is a senior reporter at Sifted. She covers climate tech, writes our weekly climate tech newsletter and works on investigations. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn