unplug & reset
After a busy few months, the summer offers us a much-needed break. In this edition of our newsletter, you’ll find a recap of what we and our portfolio companies have been up to lately, plus a selection of our favorite readings on tech, the investing landscape, and much more (e.g., oppressive algorithms, ancient languages, and mythological figures…).
Wherever you are in the world, we hope you have the opportunity to unplug, reset and enjoy some time away with your friends and family.
Best wishes for a happy summer!
The United Ventures Team
“In the enterprise world that keeps digitalizing, evolving and embracing new technology solutions and architectures, the role of the developer is changing rapidly, getting closer to business and becoming first time accountable for overall operational excellence and time-to-production.”
On August 3rd, we announced the first investment of our recently launched growth fund. We led the $11 million Series B round of Entando, the Cagliari/San Diego-based platform for building enterprise modular web applications on Kubernetes. The funding will drive the continued development of Entando’s community and accelerate its expansion and growth globally, scaling awareness, channel, and operations. To learn how Entando solves the developers’ dilemma to spend less time worrying about deploying containers and more time building applications that can deliver tangible value to the business, read Fabio’s post on our website.
“This is the story of six friends living and breathing crypto ever since high school, who envisioned a cashless world where people get full control and ownership of their assets.”
As part of our long-term investment thesis aimed at innovating and democratizing financial services through technology, in June we led Young Platform’s €3.5 million Series A – the largest round in the crypto sector in Italy so far. Founded to bring transparency, inclusion, and education to the world of personal finance and digital assets, Young Platform is building the next-generation platform for cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance, while maintaining a community-driven identity and focusing on user-friendly products. Read more on our blog.
BOOM has a new website, a new visual identity made for a more accessible and intuitive navigation experience, and a new home located in the center of Milan, which includes BOOM’s new office and a studio for scalable content production.
Credimi celebrated the first two years since the launch of Credimi Futuro, the digital financing born in June 2019 and designed on the needs of Italian SMEs, with 500 million euros lent and 38 thousand requests for financing.
Datrix closed a financing round with Banca Generali and 8a+ Investimenti SGR to support its ambitious growth plan across the group's four operational areas - Marketing & Sales, FinTech, Data Monetization, and Machine Learning models.
Equalum was selected as an Emerging Vendor in the big data category for 2021 in CRN's annual report on Emerging Tech Vendors, which looks for companies providing innovative solutions on a growth trajectory and changing the game.
Moneyfarm achieved an important milestone in terms of business growth as they reached two billion euros in assets under management, doubling down the first billion, reached at the beginning of 2020, in just 16 months.
Musixmatch announced a suite of next-level tools coming up in Q4 2021 to provide a self-service platform for all music creators and professionals. Discover more about Musixmatch Pro and join the waitlist.
xFarm has been selected among the 28 finalists of the "Digital Excellence in Agriculture in Europe and Central Asia" contest organized by FAO and the International Telecommunication Union.
News from the Team
We are happy to announce that Paolo Altomare joined the United Ventures investment team!
Paolo joins us as an Investment Manager and will be focusing on growth venture capital investments within UV T-Growth, our latest fund, which targets primarily European companies with proven traction in fast-growing sectors such as 5G, cloud/edge computing, smart cities, AI, SaaS, cybersecurity, digital health & IoT.
Paolo has a background in technology, media and telco M&A in Milan and London at GP Bullhound and GCA Altium, where he worked on mid-market sell-side and buy-side deals across the US, Europe and Japan. Paolo also brings corporate strategy and development experience from his time at Bird, the Sequoia-backed Californian micromobility unicorn, where he joined as employee one in the Italian market, building in just two years a successful €8m revenue business from scratch.
A special mention goes to Tommaso Palmieri, who is about to end his summer internship at United Ventures. A student of Mathematics and Computer Engineering at New York University with a passion for writing, photography, and debate, Tommaso supported the team on a special project we are working on. With his heterogeneous skills, he made a huge contribution to our organization. Thank you for your hard work and dedication, Tommaso!
5 Things Worth Sharing
Tech insights from the world, trends, perspectives & more.
1. Failure will (and should) always be a reality for many entrepreneurs. But by recognizing that many failures follow the same trajectory, we can reduce their number and frequency. Aiming for a more productive, more diverse, and less bruising entrepreneurial economy, a professor of entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School identified the recurring patterns that explain why startups fail. (Harvard Business Review)
2. The iconic piece “Technology Saves the World” by Marc Andreessen reflects on the fundamental role that technology has played throughout the pandemic, from the story of Moderna, a classic, American biotech startup backed by venture capital with a new technology called mRNA that now we have all come to know to remote working, a ‘permanent civilizational shift’ that made us realize that many jobs can be performed from anywhere, through screens and the internet. (Future by a16z)
3. The essay “Does Tech Need a New Narrative?” by Anna Wiener offers an interesting counterweight to the previous piece. Wiener, a merciless observer of the tech world, who previously authored the memoir novel Uncanny Valley, analyses Andreessen Horowitz’s marketing strategy - which has evolved ‘into something like mythology’ - and how the firm is changing the storytelling game. (The New Yorker)
4. Carlo Alberto Carnevale Maffè, Professor of Strategy at SDA Bocconi School of Management and Board Member at United Ventures, reflects on the role of Big Tech in a world where digital is no longer the promised land of technology but a real economic and social necessity, indispensable for recovering lost productivity and solidarity. (Aspenia Online)
5. In a 2013 study, mathematical linguist András Kornai found that of the more than 7,000 languages used around the world — 2,500 of which are considered endangered — less than 5% were becoming fully functioning languages in the online realm. The expansion of the internet, in other words, is precipitating a massive linguistic extinction. Meet the people fighting to bring one of those languages, Urdu, to the future and digitally preserve its ornate, beautiful script. (Rest of World)
5 Books For Summer Reading
1. Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, by Safiya Umoja Noble. This book shows how online search engine results are far from neutral, reinforcing racist and sexist beliefs. When the author mentioned that to Google representatives, they said it was the computer’s fault or an anomaly they can’t control, but algorithms are not neutral. They are created by people, and, therefore, they carry biases and prejudices from the people that have written these algorithms (mainly, white men).
2. Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World, by Meredith Broussard. A guide to understanding the inner workings and outer limits of technology and why we should never assume that computers always get it right. If we understand the limits of what we can do with technology, Broussard tells us, we can make better choices about what we should do with it to make the world better for everyone.
3. How To Become A Successful Artist, by Magnus Resch. With advice from the art world’s leading experts, this must-have guide explains the core business principles of being an artist and reveals how to make it in the art market. A fun reading to understand how the art world works with case studies drawn from interviews with leading experts and practitioners, including artists, gallerists, and curators. Because being an artist essentially means being an entrepreneur.
4. The AI-First Company, by Ash Fontana. If you want to win with AI, you need to put it first on your priority list. That means reading and learning everything you can about the development and uses of AI, from core skills to cutting-edge innovations. Ash Fontana’s new playbook, The AI-First Company, is a great place to start: it offers a comprehensive framework for understanding AI and practical advice for developing an ‘AI-First’ mindset that can potentially reshape how we do business.
5. Storie di Startup dalla A alla Z, AA. VV.. Twenty-six stories, one for each letter of the alphabet, offering practical insights and first-hand experience around the themes of the startup world. A choral book dedicated to the widest audience of startuppers, innovation enthusiasts and professionals, ultimately representing a compass to orient in the rough sea of the startup world. Our Fabio Pirovano authored the chapter “R for Round.”
💰David Swensen, who headed the Investments Office at Yale University from 1985 until his death in May 2021, was one of the greatest investors of our time. We explored his revolutionary intuitions and the concept of Venture Capital as an asset class aimed at long-term value creation.
🔬Funding research and turning researchers’ work into marketable technological innovations is the essence of a State's science and economic development policy. But what is the best way to translate investment into innovation? Our take on “The Digital Leviathan.”
🎙️Why exactly does design matter for a VC firm and its portfolio companies? Gianluca Cinquepalmi and Bel Barreiros had a beautiful conversation on the role design has in building valuable, sustainable and innovative businesses. Listen here to the podcast.
🗞️ The July issue of MAG featured an in-depth interview by Claudia La Via to Massimiliano Magrini. They talked about Venture Capital, hybrid models for financing innovation, and the virtuous connections the Italian ecosystem needs to grow.
That’s all for today!
PS. Have you enjoyed this newsletter? We would love to hear your feedback ❤️
Please feel free to share any questions, thoughts, or comments you may have.