Have cash? Looking for tech talent? Go to Europe. So says Konstantin Guericke, co-founder of LinkedIn and newly minted venture partner in Berlin’s EarlyBird Ventures. EarlyBird recently raised $100 million for its fourth fund, focusing on European, and in particular German startups.
“I think given the amount of money available, the shortage in Silicon Valley is in technical talent,” says Guericke, “I have no doubt that some European startups with strong talent and the right startup know-how will be able to out-execute Silicon Valley companies.” One of Guericke’s new tasks at EarlyBird will be to help European companies break into the U.S. market.
Guericke, who is German but studied engineering at Stanford and is based in Palo Alto, wants to support other European founders who could make a global impact. “My goal is to help portfolio companies to become a success on a global scale,” he explains.”I will probably end up working most closely with one or two founders who decide their best opportunities for global impact come from leading their business from Silicon Valley, while keeping most of the staff in Germany, where it is easier to attract and retain technical talent.”
I asked Guericke how European startups compare to their Silicon Valley counterparts. “European founders tend to think more about revenue early on. That can be an asset, but also somewhat limiting. However, given the greater impact you can have these days with modest or no funding, I think European entrepreneurs can break free of these constraints, and smart money will find them.”
Berlin has long been a startup hotspot and pulls in founders from all over Europe drawn by the cheap living costs, vibrant culture, and expanding startup scene. The founders of audiophile social network SoundCloud, for example, which recently raised $50 million, are Swedish. Ashton Kutcher’s latest Berlin investment Gidsy was started by a couple of brothers from Amsterdam. Kutcher, at least, makes following the smart money to Berlin look like fun.