Posts Tagged: burda digital ventures
As already announced this past week, Burda Digital Ventures and W Media Ventures have jointly invested in Escapio.com, a booking platform for selected hotels. Escapio is a sister company of Tripsbytips, the German travel community that Uwe Frers and myself started about 3 years ago. As Uwe is also the entrepreneur behind Escapio, it made sense to streamline ownership structures between the two companies. But besides this aspect, Escapio provides two major opportunities. Firstly, as available content and inventory grows on the Internet (and the travel vertical is definitely one of the leading segments in this respect), helping people to select the right thing becomes more and more important. This is a core priority for general search engines like Google but there is at least as much potential in specific verticals to address this problem. Escapio positions itself as being a destination site with a selection of exceptional, hand-picked hotels providing the consumer the necessary guidance to find the absolutely best hotels in hundreds of locations (check out their hotel selections for Paris, Barcelona or Tuscany). Secondly, we have seen in the past years that content and transactions become more and more intertwined. Aligning Tripsbytips and Escapio more closely going forward will help both companies grow quicker than they could have as stand-alone sites. Very excited about adding another company to the W Media portfolio – welcome Escapio!
As the Internet evolves, the venture capital business starts evolving and we have been seeing more and more investors focusing on growth and late stages in the past few years. This is exactly the step that our partners over in Germany have taken in the past months: after having managed the corporate venture capital business for Hubert Burda Media with a focus on early-stage companies (Burda Digital Ventures) for the past several years, the team around Paul-Bernhard Kallen and Christoph Braun is now raising a second fund which targets later stage companies with an established track record of revenues and profitability (Acton Capital Partners). Hubert Burda Media is one of the largest investors in this new fund that continues to focus on Internet and mobile-based, consumer-oriented businesses. 20 to 30 percent of the committed fund will be invested outside Europe and mainly in North-America (and through W Media Ventures). This means for us that we will increasingly focus on late and growth stage deals in our region (some past deals in this category include AbeBooks, Suite101 and Nexopia) but will continue to look at selected early-stage opportunities.
Last week we brought together over 20 founders, CEO’s and senior managers from 6 portfolio (AbeBooks, Suite101.com, Nexopia.com, TeamPages, Techvibes, Carrie & Danielle) and 2 associated companies (LiveCurrent, the company behind Perfume.com and Cricket.com, Strutta) for our first Burda Digital / W Media Ventures event in Vancouver. It was a day packed with best practices and company presentations but the talk that resonated most with everybody was Brian Scudamore‘s “How to build a great company culture” speech. Brian is the founder and CEO of 1800-Got-Junk and an entrepreneur I truly admire. It wasn’t so much that anybody needed convincing that a strong company culture is something to strive for – it was more that Brian reminded us how much hard work it is on a daily basis and how easy it is to forget about this aspect in day-to-day operations. The one thing that really works for 1800-Got-Junk is the daily huddle that brings together the whole company for 7 minutes every day. 7 daily minutes during which the team can feel the current vibe of the company , 7 daily minutes during which everybody can be reminded of the company values, 7 daily minutes during which everybody from customer service agent to CEO can show leadership in front of the whole company. And as 1800-Got-Junk now has over 200 employees, the excuse that our companies are too big for such a daily all-company meeting is not really valid for most of us – try it out!