French venture capital investor Daphni has raised its third fund, bringing the total assets under its management to $350m and signalling a new chapter for the firm after some high-profile departures.

Several of the fund’s founding partners — Marie Ekeland, Mathieu Daix and Willy Braun — left last year in what many saw as a blow to the fund, which launched in 2015 with a somewhat eccentric and colourful brand, claiming to be a “venture capital mutant.”

The firm said on Wednesday that its new fund, which is called Yellow, is already worth $100m. Daphni is also working to add another $50m to the fund, which will invest in some 30 projects and write cheques worth $1m-$5m.

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Corporates like France’s Accord and Bouygues — as well as business angels including billionaire telecoms tycoon Xavier Niel, Romain Niccoli of Criteo, and Jacques-Antoine Granjon of Veepee — all invested in the fund. 

Entrepreneurs at companies that had previously been backed by  Daphni — startups like Devialet and Back Market — also put in money.

“We want to get in very early on the trends of tomorrow, on the new behaviours of consumers,” Daphni partner Charles-Henry Tranié told Sifted in a joint interview with another partner, Pierre-Eric Leibovici. 

“We’re aiming for deals that have the potential to reach hundreds of millions, or billions of euros in valuations,” Leibovici added.

Partners leaving

In July 2019, three of Daphni’s five founding partners announced they were leaving. Braun joined another young French fund, Gaia Capital Partners. 

Leibovici and another founding partner, Pierre-Yves Meerschman, stayed. 

But the firm quickly filled the gap left by the departures by joining forces with Jaina Capital, the family office of well-known French entrepreneur Marc Simoncini. Simoncini and Jaina Capital’s Tranié became partners at Daphni.

Daphni has wanted to bring experienced entrepreneurs in as partners for years now, says Leibovici.

“We had the ambition from the start to integrate entrepreneurs to our group of partners, but we didn’t find anyone who was the right fit back in 2015,” Leibovici says. “The ecosystem has evolved since, and entrepreneurs more than ever want to be accompanied by their peers.”

As an entrepreneur, Simoncini made a name for himself — and his fortune — as one of France’s earlier success stories, creating dating site Meetic and selling it to Match.com in 2011. More recently he founded Angell Bike, which sells sleek connected electric bikes.

Founded in 2010, Jaina reflects the other side of Simoncini and his track record as an investor. He has backed more than 50 startups, including Made.com and Molotov.tv, and has become one of France’s more famous business angels, starring in a television show alongside Blablacar’s Frederic Mazzella that features founders pitching to investors.

 

Marie Mawad is Sifted’s French correspondent. She also covers AI, and tweets from @Marie_a_Paris