May 26, 2024
General Catalyst and European early-stage fund La Famiglia 'join forces' to invest in European startups

In a move that will help cement the incursion of U.S.-based VCs into the European ecosystem, General Catalyst and La Famiglia have announced they are, in their words, “joining forces.”

Jeannette zu Fürstenberg, founding partner of La Famiglia, is slated to become a managing director within General Catalyst’s global partnership, driving a “long-term vision for Europe,” alongside her La Famiglia GP, Judith Dada.

Fürstenberg has spoken frequently in the past about European resilience and technological sovereignty, no doubt a subject which will bring her investment thesis to bear in areas like climate, industrial and defense, in addition to traditional software-centric opportunities.

However, can the partnership truly live up to the lofty aspirations they outline?

La Famiglia, an increasingly active seed investor out of Berlin, is to become a seed investment arm, and — at least for now — retaining it’s brand as such, aligning with General Catalyst, a VC with a with a 20+ year history and a significant European investing footprint.

In practical terms, La Famiglia’s existing fund will run its course, and new seeding investing for La Famiglia will be done as if it’s a seed arm of General Catalyst.

The alliance could allow GC to tap into one of Europe’s better-connected seed investing brands, and perhaps most importantly, the networking maven that is Fürstenberg, who regularly convenes high-end events with high-growth founders and investors.

The question is how seamless this collaboration will be and will it deliver the expected results? The devil lies in the details.

Hemant Taneja, CEO, General Catalyst, said: “We are very excited to welcome the La Famiglia team into the GC family — they share our values and our ambition to have a positive impact in the world. Their capabilities will significantly bolster our ability to help founders at the seed stage, especially in Europe.”

Over interview, Taneja added: “There’s a lot of potential energy in the community that Jeanette and La Famiglia have convened… We’re not a ‘European fund and a U.S. fund’ and whatnot. We want to think about our thesis at a global scale… It just made sense to say why don’t we just become one team and bring that capability into Europe much more intentionally. We’ve obviously been in Europe for almost a decade now. A lot of effort was started by them and then, you know, we have a small team in London, but to now have the La Familgia team in mainland Europe, along with our team in London positions us well to think ‘in Europe for Europe’.”

He said La Famiglia will retain their teams in Berlin and Munich, working closely with GC’s London office, which opened in 2021.

Fürstenberg said: “Looking at the European economy right now, I have a strong sense of urgency to truly drive change and impact in the most relevant sectors that offer the most growth potential…. In teaming up with GC, we live the spirit of ‘radical collaboration’ that I believe is needed to drive sustainable and technologically enabled growth in the European economy.”

Expanding on that at interview she told me it’s not a “merger.”

“It’s ‘joining forces,’” she said. “It’s essentially making sure that we give Europe a firm place on the map and make sure we don’t fall behind relative to you know, other geographies, namely, China and the U.S. What would it take for us to really put or create three of the 10 largest technology companies to be European that was always our ambition that we started out in 2015. We’ve always collaborated on deals with General Catalyst.”

So, the announcement speaks of “radical collaboration,” and a desire to create a long-term impact. While this rhetoric sounds promising, translating these ideals into tangible results remains a key challenge.

However, in their favor is the fact that General Catalyst and La Famiglia have had a relationship since 2016, sharing a portfolio of companies including Helsing, Stripe, Applied Intuition, Maven and Ramp.

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