Last year, software saved the world. We saw it happen in real-time as we worked, shopped, and socialised from home. Now, and for years to come, companies will be built that are larger, and more world-changing, than ever before — redefining everything we see around us for the better.
Today is the age of private enterprise, and B2B software the true embodiment of it. Barriers to entry lower every day, COGS don’t apply, the AWS economy — where building is easy, fast, and can be done from anywhere — continues to grow exponentially, and the prospect of hitting infinite distribution is now a reality for any software company out there.
Meanwhile, financial markets have responded to keep pace with this change: helping companies stay “private for longer”, by offering a lengthier route to exit, but with outcomes even greater. FT analysis of Crunchbase data at the end of 2020 showed the 20 venture-backed companies that went public that year had all been privately valued at more than $1 billion, and held a combined market value of $218 billion upon listing — significantly beating the record set the year before. The cohort had also been privately funded for, on average, eleven years; only a decade earlier, this average sat closer to five years.
Every day, our team hunts for these outliers. We identify the founders of these companies early — and we invest in and partner with them from their Series A rounds. Last year we raised Dawn IV, our $400m fourth flagship fund, and Europe’s largest fund to date investing exclusively in early-stage B2B software, to do precisely this. These are companies who can explain themselves and their stories, and provide products and customer support that, in the past, could only have been garnered from larger players. They don’t just have a clear vision of the future; they are building it. And companies like this won’t simply be bought up by the SAPs or Oracles of this world; they’re out there becoming the winning providers themselves.
Yet, our commitment to our founders doesn’t just span the early-stages. We partner with our founders to take them to these significant outcomes and in our top companies, invest at every step along the way. Which is why we’re delighted to be launching Dawn Opportunities Fund II — our second later stage fund. Following in the footsteps of its predecessor Opportunities Fund I, the fund is designed to do one thing: stay with our companies for longer, as they go from strong, emerging players to global industry-defining titans. We’ve supported companies like this before — including the likes of iZettle, Mimecast and Tink — and we can’t wait to continue.
These companies are companies that fall, broadly, into two groups: they are crafting and plugging gaps in the value chains shaping our world today, like those around data, and cloud. Or they have already defined a category and, as others follow in their wake, are continuing to lead and shape the market.
Its predecessor, Opportunities I invested in five our our top-performing portfolio companies, each of which can be categorised by the above, too: world-leading data intelligence platform — Collibra, global enterprise AI platform — Dataiku, digital-first media company — Minute Media, sales enablement platform — Showpad and contextual decision intelligence platform — Quantexa. We’ve been honoured to continue on extraordinary journeys with each of these titans of European tech as they continue to grow, expanding global footprints, and moving towards exceptional outcomes.
For our investors, this is the chance to continue being part of these bigger stories — on the journey from Series A through to exit. For our founders, it means we can back them all the way: continuing to actively support them, providing continuity and partnership, and enabling them to focus on the bigger picture. It means they can reach for outrageous outcomes, knowing we’ll be right alongside them as they do so.
As we write this, Opportunities II has made its first two investments, in the $153 million Series D round of contextual decision intelligence category leader, Quantexa and $180 million Series C round of leading European spend management platform, Soldo. Both are exceptional businesses, led by exceptional founders and teams, and unquestionably meet our definition of companies leading and growing a category they have already helped define. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be doubling down on our investments in both companies, and are excited to see the opportunities that lie ahead for our fund and founders.