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The Tech Family Offices – and what they’re investing in – Part 2

The model that might define the family office in the 21st century is likely to be those investment groups set up by successful tech entrepreneurs. Not only have they made a lot of money – often very quickly – they have also pushed boundaries with their innovations in technology. And usually, they have the same mentality when it comes to investing – pushing boundaries. As such, these groups might just be behind the big innovations and companies of tomorrow.

In an effort to build a better picture of these hugely influential groups, Family Capital will over the next few weeks bring insights into these investment groups, what themes they are focusing on and what makes them unique among the world of private investment groups. Below is the second part – Part 1 is here.

First Fellow Partners

Investment focus: Cyber-security, software

Finn Risto Siilasmaa co-founded F-Secure Corporation/Data Fellows in the late 1980s, which is now a multi-million dollar cyber-security group based in Helsinki. Siilasmaa also held senior positions at Nokia, including chairman and CEO.  

Money from his cyber-security business and Nokia led Siilasmaa to set up a private investment group called First Fellow Partners, which has been investing in various asset classes since 2004. Given Siilasmaa’s background, much of that investment has been channelled into venture, and FFP has been one of the most active venture investors in Finland. Much of that has gone into Finnish/Scandinavian startups, like Detectify, a security software group, Wolt, a Finnish restaurant app, and many, many more.

Hillspire

Investment focus: public and private equity; property

Erich Schmidt, the former chairman of Google and Alphabet has no doubt got more time on his hands to concentrate on investing since he left his full-time role at the Google universe last year. Established in 2006, Hillspire moved to new offices in 2016 that houses at least 30 people employed at Schmidt’s family office.  

Interestingly, Schmidt doesn’t appear to use Hillspire to do his venture investing – like Bill Gates he does it separately. But Hillspire has made some big investments, including buying a 20% stake in D.E. Shaw, the global investment and hedge fund group, in 2015.

Hopp Beteiligungsgesellschaft

Investment focus: unknown

Hopp Beteiligungsgesellschaft (investment company) is the Mannheim, Germany-based family office of one of the co-founders of the German software group SAP, Daniel Hopp. Unfortunately, Hopp Beteiligungsgesellschaft is about as secretive as it gets when it comes to family offices. No one appears to know what it’s investing in, nor is the investment group telling anyone.

 

ICONIQ Capital

Investment focus: venture, private equity

ICONIQ Capital is a multi-family office that manages some of the money of at least three big tech billionaires – Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder, and Jack Dorsey, Twitter founder.

ICONIQ Capital isn’t exactly closed to outside investors – it has its own funds – but it’s not entirely open as well. Given its client base, investors need to have serious money to invest with the San Francisco-based family office. Unsurprisingly, it’s been a big investor in venture since it was founded in 2011, participating in more than 60 rounds of investing at a Series A and above level. In recent years its moved up the food chain and participated in a couple of private equity rounds. That’s raised speculation ICONIQ might be looking to get serious in private equity, doing buyouts of bigger businesses as well. It can probably raise the money to do so given its connections with some of the world’s wealthiest individuals in tech.

 

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