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The top fintech VC portfolios, revealed

We've analysed the portfolios of 31 top VCs to see which are in the most top European fintech, and which are lagging behind.

By Isabel Woodford and Bill Leaver

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Credit: The Seedcamp team

Venture capitalists have pumped billions into European fintechs. But how do investors’ portfolios shape up against one another, a decade on?

Using the most recent data from Dealroom, Sifted has analysed the European fintech portfolios of 31 top VCs. We focused on the most active VCs over the past 24 months and the most high-profile VCs across both Europe and the US.

The data gives an insight into who’s leading, and who’s got more softies than superstars.

A snapshot

The graph below shows the combined valuations of each VC’s fintech portfolio, offering a snapshot into which funds have backed the biggest fintech success stories.

To be clear, this is not the total worth of their fintech portfolios: in reality, each fund owns tiny proportions of each investment (equally, their rate of returns depends entirely on how early they invested). It also does not count companies that have already exited and banked returns for the funds.

The power law

The three top spots are taken by Creandum, Northzone and Sequoia by virtue of their investments in Klarna, which is currently valued at $31bn.

That shows the power law clearly in force. Klarna is but one of the 339 unique portfolio companies in this analysis, yet represents 31.29% of the total combined value of all the companies (€28.1bn vs €90bn in total). Overall, the 10 biggest fintech fish drive a majority (62%) of the market value.

Just by removing Klarna from the analysis, the ranking of VCs shifts as follows:

The unicorn hunters

Currently, Europe is home to 20 known fintech unicorns. These are generally seen as the crown jewel of the sector.

The VCs with the most exposure to these unicorns are Valar Ventures, Hedosophia, Balderton and Accel, which lead the way with four unicorns each.

Meanwhile, surprisingly, high-profile fintech investors like Anthemis don’t have any active unicorns in Europe.

The graph below shows how many unicorns each VC has in their portfolios, alongside their total number of investments in fintech.

 

Interestingly, the top US VCs seem to make fewer but better investments than the most active European ones (i.e. compare Valar Ventures four unicorns out of 9 fintech investments, to BPIFrance’s 0 out of 45.)

Breaking down the portfolios

It’s not just unicorns that are worth flagging. The VCs in this ranking have made dozens of credible fintech investments that are currently below $1bn.

Therefore, we’ve conducted a detailed breakdown of each funds’ fintech portfolio across different valuations.

Aside from unicorns (€830m+), the graph below records how many companies each fund has in the following categories: soonicorns (€500m-€830m), scaleups (€250-500m), Series B to C (€50m-250m), and seed-stage to Series A (<€50m).

 

This highlights funds like Anthemis and Octopus Ventures, which don’t have any (active) fintech unicorns in Europe, but do have a strong herd of scale-up bets, eyeing Series C or D rounds.

Finch Capital may also be worth watching, banking a handful of fintech “soonicorns.”

More broadly, the data also reinforces the nature of VC, whereby the overwhelming number of investments do not become billion-dollar companies.

The FOMO in fintech

Top companies tend to see intense competition among VCs wrestling to get in on deals.

The graph below reveals which fintechs have attracted the most attention from our 31 top investors.

Some popular choices are obvious, including older unicorns like Wise and Revolut. Others are newcomers, like Primer — which Sifted reported on here — and TaxScouts. Meanwhile, Zopa is a relative veteran but have seen its valuation slashed in recent years.

Takeaways

Overall, this analysis offers a simple snapshot into VCs’ portfolios at this very moment in time. Naturally, VC portfolios are dynamic and the weight of their respective investments could still shift monumentally in the coming months and years.

Nonetheless, this data does show how competitive the venture space is in fintech. It also gives some sense of who has made the best bets so far, and who has more bark than bite.

As one investor put it: “It’s a good time to be a GP [general partner] at Balderton and Valar.”

 

** A note on the data

It’s worth reemphasising that this analysis does not count companies that have already exited, and hence have historically banked returns.

For instance, Eight Roads was an investor in Compte Nickel, the French neobank, but the company sold to BNP Paribas for €260m in 2017. It is therefore not counted here, as it falls outside the remit of Eight Roads’ ‘current’ portfolio.

Meanwhile, it’s worth remembering that some investments (and exits) happen behind closed doors that are not immediately reflected in the data. For instance, Balderton is an active ‘secondary sale’ buyer, meaning it’s likely exposed to even more fintechs than those counted here.

Similarly, funds do not generally publicly disclose when they privately sell their stakes in portfolio companies. Examples include how Index did with Wise across sales in 2017 and 2019, or as Augmentum recently did with Dext. As a result, we should assume that VCs may have already quietly closed positions on parts of their fintech portfolios.

 

Isabel Woodford is Sifted’s fintech correspondent. She tweets from @i_woodford and coauthors our new fintech-focused newsletter. Sign up here. 

 Bill Leaver is Sifted’s product analyst. He tweets from @billeaver_

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