Farewell Atomico, hello Moonfire

Mattias Ljungman

After an incredible 13 years at Atomico, I’m excited to share that I will be starting my own firm, Moonfire Ventures, focused on early stage investment. In the meantime, I will remain in a transitioning role at Atomico for the next six months.

While this will be a gradual change, I’m full of hope for what’s to come, I’m also deeply thankful for what has been — and all the people who have had an impact on me along the way.

I’m thankful for having worked with a world-class group of people at Atomico, who taught me an incredible amount and made me aim higher every single day.

Atomico re-energised venture capital in Europe and rewrote its course by placing big bets and backing game-changing businesses. We were the first credible founder-led venture fund, then the largest new fund of its time, then the first European fund with a growth acceleration team, the first with clear diversity targets… and it’s just getting started. You are the stars of the European venture scene and I couldn’t be more grateful for all the adventures we’ve been on.

A special thanks must, of course, go to Niklas. Our over-a-decade-strong partnership has been one of the real highlights of my working life.

It’s also near impossible to single out all the inspiring founders I’ve had the privilege to work with, and companies I’ve helped become part of Atomico’s portfolio. Many of these founders have become close friends, as we shared some incredible experiences together.

The world needs European entrepreneurs to aim for the stars and bridge the gap as the world’s economic powerhouses drift further apart. Where most see Europe as Silicon Valley’s less ambitious cousin, I keep seeing incredible potential strewn around Europe everywhere I go.

To reflect on Atomico’s own journey from an idea Niklas and I had way back then, to one of Europe’s most successful home-grown champions of entrepreneurship that the fund is today — is truly breathtaking.

From day one, Atomico set out to redefine what investors thought was achievable. In the early days, people genuinely thought I was a lunatic for riding around town on my bicycle and talking about the untapped potential in Europe. It was a time when people believed Europe could not produce world-leading multi-billion dollar tech companies. Back then, most of the successful investors were American and few people gave credence to the idea that local funds could play a significant role in Europe.

It’s been a huge mind shift. We knew that we had to bet big to win big, and we embraced blue-sky thinking as a core tenant of our investment strategy. It paid off. Most importantly, we have proven that the European technology ecosystem is able to grow at speed.

European entrepreneurs deserve a bigger stage

One question has bothered me most of my professional life as a venture capitalist; why can’t we have $500bn companies come out of Europe and owning the world stage? It’s not for the lack of ambition and definitely not for the lack of talent.

Enabling European entrepreneurs to dream big and execute fully on their bold ideas at the very earliest stages of their journeys has been my passion and my cause. There has never been a better time to embrace the next stage of my career with Moonfire. If I can help entrepreneurs at the very start of their journeys to create the right foundations to drive growth exponentially, I’ll be doing what I’m meant to be doing.

To be clear, European seed stage investing has blossomed recently, but the ecosystem remains too fragmented, immature and definitely underfunded. There are some excellent seed funds in Europe, but we need more of them, and we need them to think on a pan-European basis with global ambition.

What excites me is that great companies are coming from everywhere and the talent is stronger than ever before. Yet, the sheer number of talented entrepreneurs dispersed throughout Europe; the uncoordinated efforts of Europe’s educational centres of excellence — ETH in Zürich, KTH in Stockholm, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology; Oxford and Cambridge universities and Imperial College in the UK; the venture momentum elsewhere in the world — all call for a new approach to investment — one that can operate locally but execute globally.

Next generation venture capital

My hope is to assemble a team of investors who can light a fire within seed stage investing in Europe to help entrepreneurs grow their boundless ambition and burning creativity.

Given Europe’s diversity and fragmentation issues, I believe it’s time to reimagine how venture capital adds value by embracing technology to help with discovery, evaluation and more efficient provision of support for the most promising ventures.

In the same way we demand of our portfolio companies, we need technical excellence to spot opportunities, make the right decisions, and provide a quality service to our founders as the European ecosystem continues to grow.

I look forward to the path ahead, to working with Atomico as a partner, to new opportunities to learn, new founders to be inspired by and a new chapter in early stage European investment.

Watch this space for more to come.

Mattias

🌓🔥

Mattias Ljungman

Written by

Co-founder of Atomico, Searching for disruptive business models. Investor in Supercell, Viagogo, Climate Corp, Peakon, Ohbibi, Klarna, Truecaller and more

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade