July 5, 2018 / 4:52 PM / a year ago

Venture firm Atomico signs up ex-Uber and Google managers

LONDON (Reuters) - Atomico, which runs Europe’s largest independent venture fund, has hired former managers from Google and Uber to help drive international expansion for its portfolio of more than 50 start-ups and growth stage firms, it said on Thursday.

Jambu Palaniappan and Steve Crossan who have both just been employed by Atomico, which runs Europe's largest independent venture fund, are seen here at Atomico's offices in London, Britain, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Auchard

Jambu Palaniappan, an early Uber [UBER.UL] executive who spearheaded the company’s expansion into Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) and India, will be an adviser on international expansion for Atomico companies.

Atomico also named former Google manager Steve Crossan as an entrepreneur in residence and adviser on artificial intelligence, “deep tech” engineering (AI) and industrial internet strategies.

London-based Atomico, co-founded by Skype pioneer Niklas Zennström, has been an outspoken advocate of the idea that Europe can develop world-class companies in emerging technology categories to compete with U.S. and Chinese tech giants.

It argues that Europe is now funding ambitious entrepreneurs and technical talent, but needs more executives with operating experience to build bigger, more globally competitive firms.

“There’s a huge opportunity for companies to internationalize from their beginning,” Palaniappan said of the impact of cheap, cloud-based software, standard mobile software platforms and the rise of cross-border payment mechanisms.

“There is now so much of an infrastructure out there for new businesses to draw on,” Crossan added.

Palaniappan, who left Uber as EMEA regional manager for its food delivery business, Uber EATS, late in 2017, will focus on the venture fund’s marketplace start-ups, which include investments such as second-hand goods exchange Fat Llama.

As Google’s first product manager recruited in Europe, Crossan launched Google Maps in the region, ran its Cultural Institute and led Google’s integration of AI firm DeepMind into Google products and datacentres.

Crossan led a team of Google engineers who created “speak2tweet” one weekend at the height of the Arab Spring protests in 2011. It provided a bypass to Egyptian government efforts to block social media, allowing people in Egypt and later Syria to dial an international number and leave a voice message that was converted into text and posted to Twitter.

Early last decade, Crossan also ran or founded a series of UK start-ups including Runtime Collective, which later became social media monitoring site Brandwatch.com.

Reporting by Eric Auchard; Editing by Mark Potter

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