It’s not just popstars and actors who want to break America. Startups also want in on the game.
And, similar to their musical and thespian equivalents, among the main reasons they seek out the move stateside is cash.
So far this year, investors in North America have backed startups to the tune of $119.3bn, according to Dealroom, two-and-a-half times that of VCs in Europe.
But another is ease. It is relatively simple to set up in the States compared with trying to set up in several European markets: first, there is obviously the shared language, as well as similar state-by-state laws and judicial systems.
“Each European country has its own rules and regulations that we would have had to adjust to,” Sofia Vyshnevska, cofounder of NewHomesMate, a real estate marketplace, tells Sifted. But “the US has one system, with only slight differences across the states”.
For some startups that spoke to Sifted, the US also presents a unique opportunity. Those working on products or services for the film or entertainment industry, for example, have Hollywood in their sights. Others, like NewHomesMate, are looking for somewhere with a highly regulated market to make the most of their transaction commissions-based business model.
There are hundreds of European startups that have expanded to the US in recent years; some that are household names, others that aren’t.
Using Dealroom data, Sifted tracked 358 startups founded since 2005 that began in Europe and later moved their HQ to the US. 15% of companies on the list, according to Dealroom, began in Ukraine before moving to the US — the highest compared to any other European country. France and the UK, respectively, had the the next highest tallies of stateside movers.
The biggest portion of companies are working on SaaS, representing 22% of the list. Fintech was the second most popular sector for migrating companies and healthtech took a tight third place.
So, which companies have managed to make the transition a success? Here are the highest-valued startups that began in Europe but moved HQs to the US.
The highest-valued startups that expanded from Europe to the US
Miro offers teams a visual collaboration and whiteboarding platform, and has raised around $476m so far, according to Dealroom. It most recently closed a $400m Series C round backed by investors including Accel, ICONIQ Capital and Salesforce Ventures, and has 12 offices across Europe and the US.
Grammarly provides a digital writing assistant that offers grammar corrections, suggestions on better phrasing and plagiarism checks. Earlier this year, it released an AI-powered assistant that can use prompts to rewrite work. The company has raised around $400m since founding in 2009, and most recently, saw BlackRock and Baillie Gifford lead its $200m round in November 2021.
Talkdesk offers companies an AI-powered cloud customer service platform to support call centre support, and has drummed up around $497m in funding since 2011. Its founder and CEO, Tiago Paiva, secured its first cheque when based in his founding city of Lisbon. Shortly after, he moved to America to join the 500 Startups accelerator cohort, and stayed to grow the company.
Chainalysis, which began in Copenhagen, offers cryptocurrency compliance support for institutions like banks, governments and businesses working with NFTs and crypto. In May 2022, it raised a $170m Series F, bringing its total funding since launching in 2014 to around $537m.
After starting in London and Tel Aviv, cybersecurity service for software developers Snyk established its headquarters in Boston. Late last year, it laid off almost 200 employees and had to reduce its valuation to raise a $197m Series G round. It then added $25m to its coffers in January of 2023. Despite that bump in the road, its valuation still hovers at $7.4bn for now, and it has the backing of big names like Accel, BlackRock and Tiger Global Management.
Collibra helps businesses and organisations collate and visualise data on one platform and has raised around $602m since founding in 2008, according to Dealroom. It began in Belgium, but eventually both cofounders moved to New York to be closer to US enterprise customers and opened a co-HQ there, joint with Brussels.
Hugging Face did the opposite of its fellow AI startup Poolside and swapped Paris for the States — it began as a chatbot for teens and morphed into the collaborative machine learning app-development platform it is today. Since founding in 2016, it’s raised around $396m from investors including Sequoia Capital, Google and Salesforce — most recently, it secured a $235m Series D in August 2023.