Tuesday 19 February 2019 12:00 pm

Former Google finance boss to head a venture capital office in London with $600m fund

Former Google chief financial officer Patrick Pichette will lead a venture capital (VC) office in London with Canadian firm Inovia Capital.

Inovia, which is also today announcing a $600m (£464.7m) fund for technology startups and entrepreneurs, said the office will back UK companies as well as create opportunities for North American firms to expand across the Atlantic.

The fund will be split into $200m for early-stage startups, and $400m for those in later growth stages.

Read more: Softbank plugs $200m into European-focused Abu Dhabi tech fund

"We will be investing in both early and growth stage companies, [and] successfully growing companies so that UK companies can have a shot at going global," Pichette, who is now a general partner at Inovia, told City A.M..

Pichette said Inovia had discovered there was a lot of early-stage funding available in the UK, but that there was "not much growth stage money, relative to the size of the opportunity". 

Inovia's co-founder Chris Arsenault said the firm, which also runs offices in Canada and Silicon Valley, will hold back funding for every company that it backs, so that it can continue to follow the startup's journey in future investment rounds.

Pichette, who was Google's finance boss for seven years until 2015, cited his experience working in operations at one of the world's biggest tech giants as the reason why startups might choose Inovia in an already-crowded London VC scene.

Read more: Tech giants to face regulation in the UK as Zuckerberg 'fails' to keep up

"When I joined Google, we built the machinery that could hire tens of thousands people every 90 days," he said.

"Growing companies is both thrilling and harrowing, that is something money can’t buy. You have to have the experience."

He listed the UK's strong background in intellectual property, research record and universities as "huge advantages" for companies headquartered here.

"With the nature of the business with which we invest and support… it made a lot of sense to be in the UK to launch our European operations," he added. "The UK [may not] have the same batting average as Silicon Valley, but that doesn’t mean the interest is not there."

Read more: Monica Vinader-backer Beringea heads up north with £9m fintech round

Inovia, which focuses on companies transforming complex industries such as financial services, healthcare and transportation, has supported over 80 companies to a combined raise of more than $2.1bn. 

The London office, based in Holborn, will focus on intellectual property within Europe, cutting cheques ranging from $2m to $50m.

"There is expectation of pretty decent funding in the UK given the quality of the pool that we see," said Pichette. 

"Every great company that we can find, we will find."