2021 will go down in the history books as the year when European tech proved its last doubters wrong and joined the big league. We are on track to cross $100B in capital invested in a single year—more than doubling last year’s figure. To have done so in these challenging times is a great display of resilience in history.
However, we’re just getting started. The ubiquitous effect of companies like Spotify and Klarna in Sweden or Skype in Estonia proves that success breeds further success. It’s telling that it took 7 years for Europe to get its first 10 unicorns, 7 more to add 50, while the last 7 years have generated another 260.
Back here in Finland, we recently received the news that US food delivery giant DoorDash is acquiring Wolt in a record-breaking €7B deal. I cannot wait for all the companies that will be built on the back of the capital, talent, and know-how that this will release in the years to come.
While we are right to be proud of our ecosystem in a year like this, we shouldn’t settle here. Next, we need to harness the exceptional efficiency at which scalable technology companies are able to solve problems in pursuit of truly moving humanity forward. To do so, we need to reimagine how entrepreneurship works.
Firstly, we need companies to be built by founders and operators that represent the full extent of human heterogeneity. After all, people solve problems that they themselves face. Despite evidence showing that diverse teams perform better, all-male founding teams raised 91% of all capital this year. It’s deeply frustrating that, over the 7 years that we have produced the State of European Tech, we’ve barely seen any improvement in this figure. I wrote it last year and will write it again; going forward, we will have to move from talk to action. Anything less would be unacceptable.
Secondly, we need to understand the difference between change and progress. Change is inevitable and erratic. Progress is deliberate and disciplined. I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating when I say that the continued prosperity of our species depends deeply on our ability to laser-focus our efforts on problems that truly matter. To that end, it’s been exceptionally encouraging to see over $31B invested in purpose-driven tech companies in Europe in the last five years.
Thirdly, we need to build the future that we’ve long imagined. Nuclear fusion, quantum computing, and general AI have been almost here for decades. Going forward, we all need a reminder that startups exist to take extraordinary risks that, when successful, change the future beyond recognition. Europe has tremendous untapped potential to produce cutting-edge technologies based on discoveries in engineering, physics, medicine, and beyond.
While it will take effort and discipline to address the structural issues that are holding us back, it’s clear that the best days for Europe remain ahead of us. In fact, at Slush we very much feel like it’s Day 1. As such, we at Slush are more inspired than ever by our mission – to help and create founders that change the world.