Philippe Botteri, Partner at Accel Partners in London, spoke with Bloomberg TV on the sharing economy and wider changes throughout the European technology scene.
Europe is one of the most interesting and prosperous regions for technology in the world. With numerous billion-dollar exits, and a burgeoning culture for startups, I want to explore the reason for such growth and what it means for the future of innovation. The three major themes today are the sharing economy, fragmentation and regional development.
The Sharing Economy
While well-rooted in the US, one of the more exciting – and prolific – areas for innovation in Europe is the ‘sharing economy.’ More than simply offering customers a chance to save on cost, the sharing economy revolves around the value of innovation. The industry has surfaced a new, but large demand for marketplace services that change people’s way of living by not only granting them access to a new service, but access to a new, collaborative economy.
In Europe, for example, BlaBlaCar – the long-distance ride-sharing network, connects drivers with paying passengers – 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. The demand is so high that Vinted is seeing more than one item listed each second, of every day.
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. I believe the main reason for such fragmentation is that the European tech scene is spread across a collection of hubs, including London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Moscow and the Nordic countries. As a result, the next big innovation will come from anywhere. At Accel, we’ve backed Funding Circle and Mind Candy in London, BlaBlaCar and Showroomprive in Paris, Supercell in Helsinki and Avito in Moscow.
The flourishing number of ‘hubs’ has been a significant development for the region in recent years. When Accel first came to Europe 15 years ago, most of our investments were concentrated in the UK and Israel. Now, our investments are region agnostic. As the influence of technology spreads, it is beneficial for each individual hub, too, as their businesses can leverage resources across numerous regions, which extends their network 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. Our portfolio includes companies like Spotify and Rovio as well, which each continue to bring plenty of excitement.
Europe has reached a truly interesting time for innovation and we are excited to see what’s next.