Since EQT Ventures launched in May 2016, the fund has closed 22 investments and the team has grown rapidly - now consisting of 22 people in Stockholm, London, Amsterdam, Berlin and San Francisco, and with part-time advisors in Tel Aviv, Zurich and Munich. Ted Persson, Design/UX/Brand Partner Partner and Investment Advisor at EQT Ventures gives an update on the fund’s recent activities and current market trends.
“AI is fundamentally about empowering people, not replacing them”
Earlier this year, Hjalmar Winbladh, Partner and Co-Head at EQT Ventures, stated that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to take “the next big step” in 2017. Since then, EQT Ventures has made two additional AI-investments – the virtual customer call centre agent, CallDesk and the AI-powered e-health system, Aifloo.
Ted Persson explains: “As always, there are a lot of things buzzing in tech, but the thing that excites me the most right now is that we are starting to see concrete examples of how AI is underpinning entire industries. There are also speculations around whether AI will start replacing jobs in specific sectors or not. Having said that, I think it is important to also emphasize the job creation possibilities that this technology will bring. AI is fundamentally about empowering people, not replacing them.”
“One of EQT Ventures’ most recent investments, CallDesk offers an AI-powered virtual agent that works alongside human tele-operators to improve customer experience and lower costs. The virtual AI-agent can autonomously handle simple, repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as scheduling, order management, authentication and call routing. This means less waiting times for customers and more time for the (human) tele-operators to focus their efforts on handling high-value, complex issues”, says Ted Persson
Blurring the lines between the real and digital world
Earlier this fall, EQT Ventures announced its first Mixed Reality (MR) investment in Helsinki-based Varjo – the world’s first human eye resolution platform for virtual reality and augmented reality. Varjo’s proprietary combination of software, hardware and insight into how the brain processes visual information, provides the experience of 70 megapixels per eye. This blurs the lines between the real and digital world.
“We have been excited about AR and VR for a long time, but mass adoption of this technology shift has taken somewhat longer than anticipated. EQT Ventures’ bet is that Mixed Reality has the potential of being “the next smartphone” sooner or later. However, in the meantime, the fund is serving more niche markets where the need of this advanced technology already has arrived”, says Ted Persson.
EQT is staying local with the locals in Silicon Valley
It is not only the EQT Ventures portfolio that is growing – the team is also expanding rapidly, with several key recruitments made during the year. This summer, San Francisco-based Alastair Mitchell joined as Partner, with the ambition to grow EQT Ventures’ US presence and making sure that EQT is staying local with the locals in Silicon Valley.
“Alastair has an impressive track record of developing companies. He is the Co-Founder and former CEO of enterprise collaboration platform Huddle as well as board member of a number of early-stage B2B internet software companies in Europe and the US. We also welcomed Lucy Wimmer as new Communications Partner, bringing more than 12 years of experience from working with communications in the European and US tech industries”, says Ted Persson.
Ted Persson continues: “Bartosz Jakubowski was recruited to join EQT Ventures straight from a Paris-based VC firm and Reda Bensaid joined the team from a Danish investor. Both are native French speakers and are now our eyes and ears on the French scene, which has become increasingly more well-sophisticated, especially within AI”.
More recently, Axel Bard Bringéus, former Global Head of Markets at Spotify, joined the fund to help identify fast-growing, innovative and tech-enabled companies for support and investment in Germany. Earlier in December, EQT Ventures also welcomed Jo Bertram, former regional general manager for Northern Europe at Uber, as an Executive in Residence.
Read more on www.eqtventures.com