| SAN FRANCISCO, June 17
SAN FRANCISCO, June 17 Index Ventures said it
raised a 350 million euro fund - about $441 million - to invest
in seed and early-stage technology companies.
The fund will make investments in the $10 million range in
roughly 40 companies, focusing on Berlin, London, New York, San
Francisco, Stockholm and Tel Aviv.
Index looks for companies with differentiated products going
after a big market - $1 billion plus, said partner Mike Volpi in
an interview. But most important to Index is the entrepreneur.
"We look for people who can figure their way around things,"
he said. "That have leadership skills, that are analytical, and
Index is perhaps best known for backing Skype, now owned by
Microsoft Corp, at its early stages. Other investments
include mobile-payments company Boku, online-music service
Lastfm, and online-storage company Dropbox.
Earlier this year, Index launched a 150 million euro
life-sciences fund. In November, Index said it was raising a 500
million euro fund for later-stage investments.
The firm focuses heavily on Europe even as the region
struggles with issues including insolvent banks, high levels of
sovereign debt, and the possible collapse of the euro.
"The best time to fund companies is in down cycles," said
Volpi. Because potential competitors are pulling back and
perhaps not spending to expand their businesses, "the ones that
get funded have a little bit more of a clear playing field."
The new fund has already made one investment: an
enterprise-software company in the United States that Volpi
declined to name.
For the venture-capital industry overall, the current
climate is mixed. Many investors are complaining about poor
returns, even as a handful of strong exits - initial public
offerings or acquisitions - are allowing a small group of funds
to do extremely well.
Despite its poor performance in public markets, Facebook's
IPO, for example, was a bonanza for Accel Partners,
Greylock Partners, Meritech Capital and a few others.
Venture capital funds raised $4.9 billion in the first
quarter, down 35 percent from a year earlier, according to the
National Venture Capital Association and Thomson Reuters.