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Edition: May 2018
Fundamental technological shifts have started to uproot the global workforce – affecting both blue- and white-collar professions. Following our recent investment in Zenjob, we take a closer look at the complex mosaic of underlying shifts that determine the labor economics of tomorrow and open up ample opportunities for nimble startups.

Enjoy our insights!

Best regards
Jan-Gisbert Schultze

If you haven't received our last newsletter, you can find it here.

 
THE ACTON ANGLE

Mapping the future of work
A VC perspective on the drivers behind the disruption of labor economics


by Dr. Aline Vedder, Director of Communications at Acton

We’re not even close to grasp the seismic change that AI, automation and digitization will bring into our professional lives. A recent McKinsey report projects that 75 million to 375 million people may need to switch occupational categories and learn new skills by 2030. A complex mosaic of underlying shifts determines the labor economics of tomorrow while at the same time opening up ample opportunities for nimble startups.

Augmenting human skills: The AI economy

Technology has always had a severe impact on the organization of the workforce, especially for blue-collar workers. This is even more salient today, as a multitude of activities that blue-collar workers carry out have the potential to be completely automated. AI-infused programs replace humans in complex tasks that are beyond human cognition or inefficient for human beings to do.
 
But the disruption of work now also touches white-collar professions. AI has uprooted the financial sector (high-frequency trading), the healthcare industry (robotic surgery / machine learning algorithms in the field of radiology) as well as the media business (news articles written by algorithms). Machines are simply profoundly better at collecting and processing data. Further sectors that are prone to be disrupted include the legal industry, the mortgage sector and the accounting industry.

On a positive note the advent of AI marks supercharged efficiency but also wider reach of products and services. Services that have previously been limited to a few wealthy individuals now cater to an unlimited number of customers. Think about AI powered wealth advisors (Wealthfront) or personal stylists (Stitch Fix).

The accuracy of AI powered analysis is often misguidedly believed to be 100% accurate. Truth is, no human will be able to provide 100 percent accuracy. The same is true for machines, even though they’re getting very close. Many AI-enhanced assistants still need the attention of a human manager who oversees the results.
 
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PORTFOLIO NEWS

 DEALS.
Cluno
The notion of mobility is changing, technologies such as electric vehicles or self-driving cars will no longer be bought or leased in the traditional way: We're proud to lead the 7m EUR Series A financing round in Cluno, a Munich based car subscription provider. While traditional leasing offerings are characterised by rigid contracts and lack of transparency, Cluno relies on a flexible model, digital-first customer experience with transparent all-inclusive pricing. TechCrunch, Handelsblatt
Koio Collective
Digitally native vertical brands are built almost entirely online. We’re delighted to announce our investment in Koio Collective together with Brand Foundry Ventures and Winkelvoss Capital. We're excited to see Koio grow and bring leather luxury into the digital age. The company aims to become the leading leather accessory brand for millennials. TechCrunch
Sofatutor
We're delighted to announce Sofatutor's close of €3 million in new funding for its edtech platform. Sofatutor is Germany’s leading platform for students from elementary school through to A-levels for learning support through educational content and homework chat. tech.eu
COMATCH
We're happy to announce our Series B investment in COMATCH. The company closed €8 million in new funding for its online marketplace for consultants. In the past three years COMATCH has become the leading German marketplace for independent management consultants. The capital will be used to expand the company’s position as market leader in the DACH countries and to assume a leading role on the European level. Manager Magazin

 INSIGHTS.
Finanzcheck is one of Germany's biggest fintechs and also the first one to open a retail branch. The company is venturing into brick-and-mortar to reinforce its digital prowess with strategic customer proximity. Business Insider
Clio
Very proud of this one: Check out how Clio has transformed the mechanics of law firms over the past 10 years. It has been an honor to observe together with Bessemer Venture Partners and Point Nine Capital. Clio Blog
sofatutor
Cool write-up on portfolio company sofatutor and the current state of EdTech in Germany. The sector is underfunded, yet ripe for disruption and more innovation. Welt
ACTON IN THE NEWS
INTERVIEW.

A VC who says he never failed is lying. We live on being able to make mistakes as well." Tune in for the latest video interview with Christoph Braun and Mission Money. Christoph speaks at 00:17:53. Video on YouTube.

ON STAGE.

Jan Schultze attended SuperReturn conference and participated in two panels to discuss the German Tech scene in a European context as well as the opportunities and pitfalls that can be linked to an influx of venture capital money on a global scale.  

CORPORATE VALUES.

The dethronement of Uber and its battered image is a powerful example of what happens if you neglect building a proper corporate culture and pursue the wrong values. TheNextWeb featured Fritz Oidtmann’s thoughts on corporate values for startups. TNW
 

ACTON TEAM
 
CONQUERING CANADA. 

Acton Venture Partner Dr. Hannes Blum received Viatec’s prestigious Business Angel of the Year award. Here’s a quick Q&A with him:

What excites you about Angel investing in young startups?

I'm always excited to talk to founders and support them on their journey especially if they build something that disrupts existing industries/market segments and creates new and better customer experiences driven by technology.

Being an Angel and a VC - how do you balance both responsibilities?

I love the broad spectrum that I'm covering now as a VC for Acton where we invest in growth companies and the early stage investments as an Angel. Following young entrepreneurs in their early stage also provides good learning opportunities with respect to success indicators long term (e.g. team characteristics, early product/market fit, focus on customer value). This eventually helps me to better evaluate investment decisions in both roles over time.

Tell us about your track record as an Angel!

Some of my first angel investments were Indochino and Teampages in early 2008. Both have been very successful investments but also took a long time to develop. Indochino raised their first large venture round in 2013 with an $18 million infusion from a large Boston based VC. They continue to grow well and raised another U$ 42 million in 2016. Teampages sold to Active Network in the US in 2017 and also generated a very good return.

I've also made a few angel investments through Angellist - for example US based Authy which was sold to Twilio before Twilio’s IPO. Naturally, not all of the angel investments have done well. Of my 22 direct angel investments, 6 have already closed shop with no or negligible return and I expect a few more to join that list.


What’s next?

My recent investments have been focused on Victoria and I'm thrilled to support local startups that have a big vision. I'm very excited about the development of Checkfront and SendWithUs. Two very recent examples are Certn and Familysparks where I also have an active advisory or board role.

Source: Viatec

MEET US
UPCOMING CONFERENCES.

Hannes will attend BC Tech Summit and form part of the investor committee, Vancouver, 14-16 May

Sebastian will attend Sting Day, Stockholm, 16 May

Aline & Sebastian will attend European Investors’ Day Plug & Play, Munich, 17 May

Frank & David will attend The Next Web, Amsterdam, 24-25 May

Fritz will attend HTGF Family Day, Bonn, 29-30 May

Aline will attend MIT Futura, Berlin, 5 June

David will speak at Heureka conference, Berlin, 5 June

David, Dominik, Frank, Fritz, Julius & Sebastian will attend Noah, Berlin, 6-7 June

Hannes will attend Metabridge event, Kelowna, 6-8 June

Julius will attend Pirate Summit, Cologne, 3-5 July

Benedikt will attend Invest Europe Tax, Legal and Regulatory Committee Meeting, Paris, 6 June as well as MUPET Munich Private Equity Training, 5 July

Frank and Fritz will attend Money Conference, Dublin, 11-13 June

Aline, David, Julius, & Frank will attend Tech Open Air, Berlin, 19-22 June

Frank will attend Unbound conference, London, 18-19 July

Any questions, thoughts or comments? Specific topics that you’d like us to comment on? Feel free to drop us an email or to stop by our Munich office for coffee.
FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER

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Acton Capital Partners GmbH - Widenmayerstr. 29 - 80538 Munich - Germany

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