Omri Benayoun is a General Partner in charge of Partech‚Äôs Growth Fund, along with Bruno Cr√©mel and Mark Menell. He joined Partech in 2014 for the creation of the Growth Fund.¬†
Before joining Partech, Omri had various senior executive positions, first at PLM software leader Dassault Syst√®mes where he led the corporate development team, then at worldwide retailer Casino Group, where he led Corporate Planning and Strategy, before being appointed Deputy CEO at Cdiscount.com, the #3 eCommerce player in Europe.
Partech has a great reputation and recently closed its seventh fund at ‚Ç¨400m. Congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about the new fund?
Thank you! This fund completes the comprehensive investment program that Partech has built to serve tech and digital entrepreneurs in Europe and the US. Our partnership now operates three families of funds, each of them focusing on a different investment stage: seed, with ‚Ç¨150m available for disruptive tech companies; a ‚Ç¨400m fund dedicated to companies at series A and B rounds; and our growth equity fund, with ‚Ç¨400m for emerging champions to help them grow into large global leaders. Each fund is managed by a distinct team, supported by in-house resources for transaction and value creation. As with all our funds, this 7th Growth Fund will be pan-European and transatlantic, thanks to our 50 people team spread across our offices in Paris, Berlin and San Francisco. We were very happy to see our existing LPs come back to this new fund, as well as welcome new insurance companies and pension funds from Europe and the US. Worth noting that among the new joiners there are some industry leaders that came in to supplement their financial performance with strategic business development: Accenture, Cisco, Nokia, Adecco, L‚ÄôOr√©al, Unibail-Rodamco, among others. It is a key piece in our value creation secret sauce!
You have successfully invested in a large number of companies over the years: tell us about your current investment focus.
Our investments cover the entire scope of digital and IT sectors, which are shaping the future of major industries, for both consumers and businesses. For earlier stage investments, there is often a strong emerging technology in fields such as artificial intelligence, components and infrastructure, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, data privacy and cybersecurity, and more. In the case of our growth fund, I note two main themes emerging in the deals we have done: B2B SaaS companies such as Brandwatch or SendinBlue; and online brands, growing fast with a direct-to-consumer model, such as Made.com or TheBouqs.
How do you approach exits and ensure you maximise their value potential?
In Partech‚Äôs history, there have been more than 20 IPOs and 50 exits above ‚Ç¨100m, including recently Teads (to Altice) and Compte-Nickel (to BNP Paribas). In our investment approach, team comes first. We, therefore, look for outstanding teams, and founders and CEOs with whom we share the same values and vision. Then, other usual criteria include: a large and growing market; strong differentiation; cash efficiency.
Our approach to exit is very simple and will not surprise your readers. The cardinal rule is, at initial investment, to partner with outstanding founders dedicated to building great companies. A great company will always find a satisfactory exit. After initial investment, for each and every one of our 130 portfolio companies, we continuously work on maximising the value potential of our investments, and we do it in a systematic way with four main processes.
First, we help shape the strategy of the portfolio company; this activity is the one with the most leverage for value creation of course. Second, we consider that cross-fertilization between portfolio companies is key, as management teams often encounter issues that other teams have faced and successfully solved before; this activity is managed by both the investment team and our business development team, and gives meaning to what it means to be part of ‚Äúthe Partech family‚Äù.
Third, we are able to expose our companies to C-level executives from our global network of corporate partners ‚Äî on a weekly basis, thanks to our dedicated business development team; this helps accelerate business for our portfolio companies in a meaningful fashion. Fourth, we help expose them early to potential acquirers on both sides of the Atlantic, and when a first bidder is knocking on the door we help expand the number of suitors quickly.
Can you tell us about what sort of Growth companies you are investing in?
Well, not surprisingly, I am particularly proud of our Growth Fund online brand companies such as UK-based furniture brand Made.com and US-based flower delivery company The Bouqs. We are also privileged to have invested in four remarkable B2B SaaS companies: UK-headquartered social media intelligence leader Brandwatch; Finland-headquartered Enterprise Content Management disruptor M-Files; France-headquartered leader in supply chain Corporate Social Responsibility ratings Ecovadis; and France-headquartered new-generation digital marketing platform for SMBs SendinBlue.
Lastly, given your broad experience from the industry, I‚Äôm sure there are plenty of great moments and stories; anything in particular you could share?
One of the good stories was our meeting with M-Files during Slush 2015 in Finland. We met thanks to the matchmaking tool of the event and we rapidly organised other meetings that led to a ‚Ç¨33m investment in a few weeks, despite Christmas!