Here is a quick summary of my discussion on the sharing economy and wider changes in the European technology scene.
Sharing economy is not about cost but value
Accel has made a few investments into sharing economy businesses. More than simply offering customers a chance to save on cost, the sharing economy revolves around the value of innovation – marketplace services change people’s way of living by granting them access to a new service. For example, BlaBlaCar, the long-distance ride-sharing network, connects drivers with paying passengers, and is now carrying more people per month than the Eurostar for much less investment. Another example, Vinted, the social marketplace for second-hand clothes, allows users to chat about fashion and swap clothes on their mobiles, and is seeing more than one item listed each second 24/7.
Europe is a collection of tech hubs...hard to know where the next big things is coming to come from
Having worked in Silicon Valley, I can say that, while both the US and Europe are full of innovation, the European tech scene is much more fragmented, as it is spread across a collection of hubs, including London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Moscow and the Nordic countries. As a result, you never know where the next big innovation will come from. We’ve backed Funding Circle and Mind Candy in London, BlaBlaCar and Vente-Privee in Paris, Supercell in Helsinki and Avito in Moscow.
The flourishing of these hubs has been a really big development for the region. When Accel first came to Europe 15 years ago, most of our investments were concentrated in the UK and Israel. Now we invest across these hubs. As they grow in number and size, it is beneficial for each individual hub, too, as their businesses can leverage them to extend their network and expand across Europe and around the world.
Another important regional development is the number of billion-dollar-plus exits over the last few years, such as Supercell’s partial sale to Softbank, which have been really additive to the ecosystem. We have companies like Spotify and Rovio in the pipeline as well, so there are plenty more exciting things to come. Europe has reached a truly interesting time for innovation and we are excited to see what’s next.