While still in its infancy, the Spanish startup ecosystem is starting to attract the attention of investors. Could this up-and-coming tech hub ever be big enough to rival Silicon Valley?
If the current investment pace continues, 2015 will be a record year in the history of Spain’s young startup ecosystem. According to a Venture Watch report, local technology companies raised 200 million euro in the first six months of the year. This represents 62% and 80% of all equity investments in 2014 and 2013, respectively.
In H1 2014 the total amount was 85 million euro, so we’ve seen a 134% increase in investment activity. What’s also interesting is the fact that the number of deals (91 vs. 71), average round size and median round sizes have increased significantly.
This analysis from Venture Watch (VW) doesn’t include Wallapop’s 100 million euro round led by Fidelity, which apparently has been confirmed by the firm itself but not by the company. Had the deal been fully confirmed, the aforementioned growth figures would have been much higher. VW did include Olapic, the online marketing startup co-founded by two Spaniards but based in New York City.
It’s worth remembering that, although these numbers and percentage increments might seem high, they’re still relatively small compared to other ecosystems like the UK, Germany, France or the Nordic countries.
Biggest rounds of H1 2015
These were the 10 largest investment rounds of the first six months of the year.
- Wallapop: $40 million round led by Insight Venture Partners and Accel Partners.
- Jobandtalent: 23 million euro from Pelayo Cortina Koplowitz, Qualitas Equity Partners, FJME and Kibo Ventures.
- peerTransfer: $22 million, led by Bain Capital Ventures.
- Digital Origin: 15 million euro from Prime Ventures.
- Olapic: $15 million from Felix Capital, Longworth Venture Partners, Fung Capital USA and Unilever Ventures.
- Kantox: $11 million from IdInvest Partners and Partech.
- Beabloo: 10 million euro from SoftBank.
- Sai Wireless: 9 million euro.
- Fever: $8.3 million from Accel Partners and Fidelity.
- Ulabox: 5 million euro from Sonae.
Fintech surpasses e-ommerce as hottest sector
For a long time, the Spanish tech sector that attracted most investment was e-commerce. In part due to the nature of the ecosystem and also because there were not many VCs and business angels willing to invest in other riskier and capital intensive industries. This is slowly changing, and these days there are a significant number of entrepreneurs building SaaS, fintech or pure software startups and investors backing these ventures.
Fintech serves as an example. In the first half of 2015, startups in the financial services sector received almost 10% of all euros invested in Spain. 3 of the top-6 rounds in H1 2015 were fintech (Kantox, peerTransfer, Digital Origin).
It’s also worth noting that two of the world’s biggest banks, BBVA and Santander, continued to be quite active with various initiatives related to the startup world.
The bank led by Francisco González participated in the following rounds:
- Prosper: $165 million Series D.
- Coinbase: $75 million Series C.
BBVA Ventures, which is based in San Francisco, is also considering opening an office in London.
Although BBVA is considered by many as one of the most forward thinking banks in the world when it comes to tech and startups, Santander has also made significant changes lately that point to a much bigger interest in the sector.
It launched a 24 million euro incubator for startups along with Monitise. The story of Monitise and Santander is also an interesting one, full of controversy. Through its venture arm InnoVentures Fund, Santander invested $5 million in MyCheck. It also invested in Cyanogen.
Besides the two largest banks in the country, others like Banco Sabadell or Bankinter were also quite active in H1 2015, mostly with the BStartup10 accelerator program and direct investments, respectively.
With late stage investments come foreign investors
US and UK-based VCs have accounted for more than half of all euro invested in Spanish startups. Again, this is closely related to the fact that growth capital in the country is less than abundant and when companies reach certain size, they often knock on the doors of foreign investors.
The cases of Wallapop, Digital Origin or Kantox are clear examples of this. On the other hand we have Jobandtalent, which has become the largest local startup to have only raised Spanish capital.
Spanish startup acquisitions
Tracking startup acquisitions is always tricky, since the most interesting details of these deals are often not disclosed. However, exits are what really move the needle and, sometimes, create wealth for founders and investors.
These were the most significant Spanish startup acquisitions in the first half of 2015:
- Rocket Internet bought La Nevera Roja for 80 million euro in February. LNR’s two co-founders have already left the company and are working on a new fund and startup.
- Apax bought a controlling stake in idealista, reportedly valuing the company at 150 million euro.
- Bodas.net got acquired by WeddingWire, apparently for 50 million euro.
- Mitula acquired Lokku (Nestoria).
- Gartner bought Nubera (GetApp).
- eShop Ventures acquired El Armario de la Tele and Nonabox.
- BeMate bought Alterkeys.
- Ticketea was able to grab the remaining assets of TodayTickets, a small German startup that was close to shutting down.
- LivingSocial got rid of Letsbonus.
- SinDelantal Mexico, backed by Madrid-based Seaya Ventures and co-founded by Evaristo Babé and Diego Ballesteros, was acquired by Just Eat. The two had previously sold SinDelantal Spain to Just Eat.
- Percentil acquired by Germany’s Kirondo to expand in the country.
- Car sharing startup Amovens got bought by GoMore.
- Sevilla-based ClinkerHQ got acquired by Cloudbees.
This post was originally published on the Novobrief.
Featured Image Credit: Matej Kastelic/ Shutterstock