Cloudsmith, a Belfast-based software supply chain management company, has raised a $15m Series A round led by Tiger Global.
It’s the largest ever Series A in Northern Ireland — and a good indicator of the region’s burgeoning investment landscape.
It’s also a sign that Tiger — the New York-based VC firm known for its splash-the-cash funding style and ongoing investment rampage in Europe — is increasing its reach beyond the continent’s largest investment hubs. That could pose critical questions for Europe’s own VCs.
27 and counting
Most of its investments have been confined to companies in Europe’s biggest tech centres: London, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris. In the last month, however, it’s put money into Barcelona, Milan and Augsburg in Germany.
In Milan, the funding went to buy now, pay later (BNPL) company Scalapay — Tiger’s first move into the increasingly competitive European BNPL space. When asked by Sifted why Scalapay had chosen Tiger, cofounder Simone Mancini said its plans to expand to the US were a key factor in taking capital from the US firm.
It was the same motivation for Cloudsmith, says Alan Carson, CEO and founder.
“The goal with this round was always to jump the Atlantic. The US is our primary market; the majority of our existing customers are based there and that’s where we expect to see much of our growth moving forward. This investment is about expanding our operation there.”
For companies looking to expand to the US, taking investment from an American VC like Tiger makes sense. That, combined with the newfound ability of US funds to source investment opportunities beyond Europe’s major tech hubs, could put more pressure on European VCs, increasingly working in a more competitive investment landscape.
Northern Ireland’s tech boom time
Northern Ireland has a small but growing ecosystem of founders and investors. Tech Nation data showed last year, for example, that 26% of Belfast’s workforce are employed in the digital tech sector.
“Northern Ireland technology is particularly strong when it comes to security, fintech and medtech,” says Carson. Cloudsmith itself fits within the security sector, helping businesses to scan supply chains for security vulnerabilities.
The investor community in Northern Ireland is relatively small, Carson says, but there are a number of accelerators working in the region, notably Catalyst and Ignite, which Cloudsmith worked with.
“I hope that we can show other Northern Irish companies what is possible in terms of investment,” Carson says.
“We had a few offers to lead the round; but we liked Tiger’s founder-friendly focus, and the amazing portfolio companies they have, many of which are target partners or customers. It was a good match.”