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Headline raises €320m to back early-stage startups in Europe

The fund will invest in 10 seed stage to Series A companies this year

By Miriam Partington in Berlin

Headline (formerly known as e.ventures) — which is headquartered in San Francisco and Berlin — has raised its seventh European fund of €320m to back European B2B and B2C startups from seed to Series A. 

It has also raised two other funds simultaneously: a $408m North America-focused fund and a R$915m (€164m) Latin America-focused fund. 

Where will Headline’s money be spent in Europe?

  • Headline typically invests in 10 new companies every year in Europe, writing tickets of €1m-15m
  • Headline says it reserves a “significant” amount of cash for follow-ons. More than 80% of the founders it has invested in at seed from its previous European fund have raised further rounds of funding from Headline.
  • In terms of its investment thesis, the firm says it focuses on what it calls “generational companies” — businesses with the potential to last generations. It looks for founders that think internationally early on.
  • Right now, Headline is particularly excited about B2B automation (for medium-sized businesses and enterprises), embedded fintech and payment solutions, as well as climate tech. 
  • It has already made six new investments this year from the new fund. They are:
    • Automaited — a B2B SaaS platform automating menial everyday office tasks;
    • Stotles — an all-in-one SaaS platform that helps businesses sell to government institutions;
    • Alloy a platform to help institutional investors access DeFi in a safe and compliant way;
    • Monta —  operating software for electric vehicle charging;
    • An unannounced fintech deal that Headline co-led with Sequoia;
    • An announced investment in a cybersecurity startup.

What’s Headline’s track record?

  • Headline was founded in San Francisco in 1999, shortly before the dotcom crash. It later set up shop in Berlin in 2014. (Fun fact: its first office was in the same building as the private residence of the then German chancellor Angela Merkel, and the team would often spot her returning from the shops.) 
  • To date, Headline has made a total of 58 investments in Europe. Globally, it has made 348.
  • It has a number of unicorns in its European portfolio including  Swile, anall-in-one employee benefit and team app, Sorare, the fantasy football NFT game and Staffbase, an employee communications platform. 
  • Headline says its European soonicorns include:
    • Podimo, a platform for podcasts, audiobooks, and audio content creators;
    • Homa Games, a platform to create and publish mobile games;
    • PlanRadar, a SaaS tool for construction and real estate;
    • ViaBill, a buy now, pay later platform;
    • CAKE, a sustainable electric motorbike provider;
    • Leapwork, a no code test automation platform.

Europe’s potential 

While Headline’s origins are in the US, the firm likes to think it has a strong European presence: with offices opened in Berlin, Helsinki, Paris and most recently London.

“Europe is now at an incredible inflection point”

Partner Jonathan Userovici said that “Europe is now at an incredible inflection point” and that “the timing to raise new funds couldn’t be better.”  

Europe now has “a new, big cohort of serial entrepreneurs and experienced operators that have done it before,” he says — and “a vast talent pool from top-tier universities that consistently join the tech ecosystem”.

The continent also has plenty of “incredible and diverse tech successes which are models and inspirations for the whole ecosystem” — and, finally, “plenty of capital is available for European founders to achieve these ambitions”. 

Sifted’s take

Headline has a good track record of investing in billion-dollar companies at seed stage — for example, Sorare — and then continuing to back them as they grow. As the firm has a presence on the ground across continents, with offices in the US, Latin America, China and Japan, as well as Europe, it is theoretically well-positioned to help companies expand internationally. For example, when US speedy grocery giant GoPuff wanted to launch in Europe, Headline connected the company with Fancy, a UK-based delivery platform, which GoPuff then acquired.

The fund is also showing at least a commitment to investing in diverse founders. Since 2010, Headline has been developing a fully automated deal-sourcing platform that aims to cut through bias to identify great companies regardless of background, ethnicity, gender or headquarters location. Currently, 25% of Headline’s European portfolio has a female founder or CEO.

Miriam Partington is Sifted’s Germany correspondent. She also covers future of work, coauthors Sifted’s Startup Life newsletter and tweets from @mparts_

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