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The Blacksheep MadTech fund closed the collection early (it was scheduled for June 2024) with subscriptions of almost 50 million euros. It is the first vertical venture capital fund specialized in investments in digital technologies applied to marketing and advertising. Managed by EUREKA! Venture Sgr, the fund is supported by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, as anchor investor, and invests in European companies with high technological potential capable of seizing the development opportunities of a market driven by the digital revolution underway in the marketing industry .
«Of the 50 million euros we raised, we invested approximately 55% in 11 operations carried out in Europe in just under two years» comments Umberto Bottesini, co-founder & managing partner of BlackSheep, continuing: «We operate as lead investors , i.e. putting the largest amount of the investment. We usually take a minority stake in the company we invest in, but we always try to acquire qualified shares, equal to or greater than 20% of the value of the company. Our average ticket ranges from 2 to 6 million euros invested. This can help us understand the average target of our investments, i.e. already mature startups, close to launching on the international (EU) or even global market”.
The fund has already made two exits: the first is Scibids, a French company that was acquired for 125 million dollars by DoubleVerify, a US big tech listed on the NYSE; the second is Roibox, a Latvian platform that was acquired by Jakala, a large American group among the top five global digital players.
Support for startups
«We give three types of support to the companies we invest in: the first is financial, but for us it is not the most important. What distinguishes us is our personal track record, being professionals with 20 years of experience in the digital marketing sector. We therefore also provide commercial support, helping companies to get in touch with those who will be the users of their solutions. Finally, we provide support to industrial relations: the solutions produced by our startups work in interoperability with the technologies of large market players, such as Google, Meta or Microsoft. Thanks to our privileged relationships with these big names we can create a bridge between our companies and them, facilitating discussions between the two parties” explains Bottesini, who concludes “In the event that the fund is a lead investor we take an active position on the board (board seat). In the event that the fund is a follower, even if it does not sit on the board, we ask to have a board observer to obtain detailed reports on the performance of the company in which we have invested”.
The digital marketing sector
«We see a clear improvement in the level of maturation of the Italian digital marketing system. Every year we see the gap that differentiated us with other European countries and especially with the United States, which has always had a dominant role in this sector, reduced” observes Bottesini, adding: “We think there are good growth prospects, considering that now even in Italy digital has become the first channel of dialogue between companies and consumers. It once again confirms its relevance in the Italian advertising landscape, reaching a total of 4.84 billion euros, with an increase of 8% compared to 2022, equivalent to approximately 370 million euros more in absolute investments. We are witnessing a transformation of traditional concepts and boundaries related to the web and apps, desktop and mobile. The media convergence between digital and traditional TV is opening up new opportunities for advertisers.”