Plenty of stuff happened at United Ventures in the last months, so grab a hot chocolate and let’s dive into the end-of-the-year edition of our newsletter. As we close this year out and look ahead to what 2022 will hold, here’s a recap of what our portfolio companies and we have been up to lately, plus a selection of our favorite readings.
We are moving into a world where tech startups are taking center stage. 2021 was a record-breaking year for European tech by huge margins, but it’s just a step to a much longer journey. Some themes have emerged strongly: the need to make impact a priority, the changing venture landscape, the beginning of the web3 era.
As our journey deepens and widens, we are grateful for what we've achieved together so far, and ready to see what’s next. Stay tuned for an exciting year of United Ventures updates in 2022!
Wishing you and yours a healthy and amazing new year,
The United Ventures Team
🔔 Datrix went public with Euronext Growth Milan
“In a world where digital transformation is no more a nice-to-have, but a matter of survival, the data-driven approach enabled by Artificial Intelligence can make the difference for many companies – and the need for companies like Datrix is more urgent than ever.”
On December 3rd, our portfolio company Datrix underwent its anticipated IPO and is now listed on Euronext Growth Milan under the ticker “DATA”. The news marks an important milestone in the company’s progress and a huge validation of the original vision of founders Fabrizio Milano d’Aragona, Mauro Arte, and Claudio Zamboni, who decided to start Datrix because they were deeply convinced of the value of data to facilitate better decisions by companies of all sizes and consequently accelerate business growth. Read more on Datrix’s journey on our blog.
🚀 Exein closed an international €6M Series A funding round
After partnering with Exein in 2018, as the first investor in the company, we continued our commitment to the team and their huge impact on the cybersecurity industry by participating in their international €6 million Series A, which was announced in September. The round was co-led by Future Industry Ventures, an investment fund dedicated to the future of manufacturing and advised by VC experts Redstone, and eCAPITAL, a German independent VC firm focusing on early-stage deep tech investments.
The fresh round of funding is fuelling the company’s architectural product expansion that will bring Exein capabilities also to other markets such as Industrial IoT, Automotive and Medical IoT, as well as the several tech hirings needed to cope with growing traction. Congratulations Gianni Cuozzo and team on this important milestone!
🧑🌾 xFarm joined forces with Farm Technologies
In November, our portfolio company xFarm joined forces with Farm Technologies to create xFarmTechnologies. With 80,000 farms and 1 million hectares under management, xFarm Technologies becomes the leading company in the Italian agtech market and among the top five in Europe, responding to the growing demand for sustainability and technological innovation of the agri-food supply chain. We are excited to continue working alongside Matteo Vanotti, Matteo Cunial, and the entire xFarm Technologies team, as they continue to push the digital transformation of agriculture.
🤝 Cloud4Wi acquired location technology provider Geo-Uniq
Cloud4Wi announced its acquisition of French-headquartered GeoUniq, a leading provider of cutting-edge location technology and data. Through the acquisition, Cloud4Wi and its clients gain immediate access to one of the world’s most innovative location engines. Together, the companies are poised for a phase of rapid growth as they help clients minimize the divide between the physical and digital customer journey.
🎵 Musixmatch partnered with Spotify, bringing lyrics anywhere
Launched last November, Spotify’s new Lyrics feature, powered by Musixmatch, empowers millions of fans around the world to cultivate an even deeper connection to the music and artists they love, diving into the deeper meanings behind each song. The global partnership expands on a prior deal Spotify had with Musixmatch to offer lyrics to users in India, Latin America and Southeast Asia. TechCrunch has more here.
News from the Team
We are happy to announce that Caterina Lurani joined United Ventures as Investment Manager!
Prior to joining United Ventures, Caterina spent three years in a fast-growing digital healthcare startup based in Milan, lastly as Head of Business Intelligence. Her goal was to enable the company to be entirely data-driven — a fascinating project involving both building data infrastructures and defining strategic measures to drive growth and develop new businesses.
Caterina holds a summa cum laude MSc in Economics from Bocconi University in Milan. During her studies she has been a Research Assistant in projects promoted by top-rank US universities, focusing on mathematical and statistical models. She specialized in using complex mathematical frameworks to interpret social topics, ranging from immigration and integration to political science.
A true nature enthusiast, Caterina is a sailing and alpinism instructor, but she also enjoys rock-climbing, ski touring, and possibly any outdoor activity you can think of!
These passions fostered her interest towards environmental tech and businesses combining impact and innovation. Finding disruptive solutions to improve our lives captivates her; she’s eager to learn about cutting-edge technologies and meet passionate people.
Tech Insights 2021
Since its first edition, United Ventures’ Tech Insights aims to be the place where the investor community meets to discuss the trends shaping the tech industry and the venture capital scenario globally. This year, we organized an afternoon of conversations into the major themes driving the industry forward and a session of company presentations, where exceptional Founders and CEOs from our portfolio shared their stories.
Our co-founders and managing partners Massimiliano Magrini and Paolo Gesess had two insightful fireside chats with Luca Bocchio from Accel and Carlotta “Lotti” Siniscalco from Emergence Capital. In case you missed them, you can watch the recordings at the links below.
In the chat “The hyper-acceleration of digitization”, Massimiliano and Luca discussed the more interesting VC investment trends in Europe and the biggest opportunities in the ecosystem after the great pandemic disruption. We tried to understand with Luca where we are heading from here, which part of the cycle we are at.
In the chat “The quest for impactful returns”, Paolo e Carlotta discussed sustainability and venture capital—subjects that are actually a lot more aligned than most people think. Both are focused on building for the long term; both are focused on building something that will endure.
The 2021 digital edition of Tech Insights was a success and we would like to thank everyone who contributed to making it happen. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did and we are looking forward to meeting you – virtually or in-person – at next year’s edition!
Things Worth Sharing
Tech insights from the world, trends, perspectives & more.
1. Torrent of words have been written about what seems to be the next big thing of the internet—crypto networks and the web3 era. Thankfully, the team at a16z which is always ahead of the game provides us with curated lists of readings and resources on these topics: don’t miss their Crypto Canon, DAOs Canon and NFT Canon.
2. The VC industry is changing; and the ability to grow big, diversified and tech-savvy financial firms will be the ticket to long-term relevance. One of our favorite contributions on the topic is Mark Suster’s The Changing Venture Landscape, which shows how VC firms globally are expanding their approach to the market, going well beyond the usual artisanal approach of early-day venture capitalists.
Also, The VC industry is getting a tech upgrade. Despite investing in high-tech industries, venture capital has been a low-tech business, largely built on intros and handshakes. Protocol’s Biz Carson shows how that’s changing, as more firms embrace software and data.
3. Two end-of-the-year classics: the first is Benedict Evans’ big presentation exploring macro and strategic trends in the tech industry. This year, Three Steps to the Future: transformative visions for 2025 or 2030; hundreds of start-ups taking ideas from the last decade and deploying them over and over in one industry after another; the old economy trying to keep up and facing waves of disruption. The second is Atomico’s State of European Tech, the deepest and most comprehensive data-driven analysis of the European tech ecosystem.
4. Investors are starting to re-evaluate traditional portfolio approaches and putting impact at the top of their agenda. Sustainable investing is about investing in progress and recognizing that companies solving the world’s biggest challenges can be best positioned to grow. Andrew Winston summarized on the Harvard Business Review how and why Sustainable Business Went Mainstream in 2021.
5. New York Times’ journalist Erin Griffith has been following for months the trial of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos. Among the articles I’ve enjoyed the most: They Still Live in the Shadow of Theranos’s Elizabeth Holmes, on female entrepreneurs facing a constant comparison to Ms. Holmes; What Red Flags? Elizabeth Holmes Trial Exposes Investors’ Carelessness on the risks of inaccurate due diligence; and the hectic meta-reportage A Day in the Life of a Reporter Covering the Elizabeth Holmes Trial.
5 Books For Winter Reading
1. In un volo di storni, by Giorgio Parisi (ITA). Only those who relentlessly question the world have the answers about what will happen and what is already happening. And in physics as well as in venture capital, "The best work of a lifetime of research can turn up by accident: you meet it on a road taken to go somewhere else." Authored by Prof. Parisi, winner in 2021 of the Nobel Prize in Physics, this book is a journey into the brilliant mind of a physicist who searched for the rules of complex systems, because the simple ones always seemed a little too boring to him.
2. Steve Jobs non abita più qui, by Michele Masneri (ITA). The more diverse and bizarre tales from San Francisco, the Valley, and the surrounding towns, wittily compiled by Masneri during his East Coast travels and stays. A long, eventful, exhilarating confirmation of Frank Lloyd Wright's words, when he claimed that everything on the planet that does not have a sufficiently solid anchorage will sooner or later begin to slide towards California.
3. The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another, by Ainissa Ramirez. Materials scientist Ramirez’s book explores eight stories of how humans and matter transform one another. The stories of clocks, steel rails, copper cables, photographic film, light bulbs, and silicon chips show how these technological and scientific developments have shaped human culture. Everyone can create something, she says, so stories of science need to reflect the fact that innovation is universal.
4. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro. According to Bill Gates, who included this thought-provoking tale of friendship and robots in his traditional 2021 Christmas reading list, “Robots are going to play a huge role in our future, and fiction is a great way to explore what exactly that might mean”. Ishiguro’s novel about an artificial friend to a sick young girl made him think about what life with super-intelligent robots might look like—and whether we’ll treat these kinds of machines as pieces of technology or as something more.
5. Uncle Tungsten. Memories of a Chemical Boyhood, by Oliver Sacks. This is Sacks' (a distinguished neurologist and bestselling author, perhaps best known for his books Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat) inspiring memoir of his childhood and early teenage years in wartime England - a chronicle of his love affair with science, chemistry, and energy. “A crystalline view of a brilliant young mind springing to life, full of the electrifying joy of discovery.”
📈 Southern Europe is a region that has all the characteristics of a major VC area—skilled talent, vibrant cities, large total addressable markets, and strong geographical infrastructure. Although VC in Southern Europe has lagged comparable regions elsewhere in Europe, things are changing. There is still a way to go, but perceptions have shifted and confidence has crystalized. Southern European tech is on a strong trajectory, more attractive, and dynamic than ever. Read more on our blog, where we deep dive into the recently published Pitchbook Analyst Note “VC in Southern Europe”, curated by Nalin Patel and featuring a contribution by Massimiliano Magrini.
🎤 “The world of venture capital takes a long time. It takes time to develop innovation that transforms the world. It takes time for innovations to be identified and implemented on the market. And it takes time to generate that virtuous effect of new investors wanting to reinvest and new entrepreneurs wishing to launch their company. So you simply have to put yourself in that time frame”. In November, the blog ScaleupItaly featured a beautiful interview by Ilaria Cavalleri to Paolo Gesess. They talked about how much the Italian VC industry has changed during his career, from 1997 until today, and what we need to work on to make Italy a prominent market at a European level.
💡 In October, Massimiliano joined the panel "Digital Roads to Sustainability" organized by Traent at the Pisa Internet Festival, one of the most relevant events dedicated to digital transformation. He discussed with a panel of VCs from all around the world how to collect and maximize national and global funds to boost innovation and the tech industry, specifically in the Italian context. You can rewatch the panel at this link (from 5:27:39).
That’s all for today!
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