Salesforce launches $125m fund for European tech startups

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Salesforce is aiming to create the 'world’s largest ecosystem of enterprise cloud companies.' Photo: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Cloud software company Salesforce (CRM) on Thursday announced the launch of a new $125m (£99m) investment fund for European tech startups.

The fund will focus on enterprise cloud startups in the region, which provide online services and software to businesses, and will give the global giant a stake in companies which could end up becoming leaders in its own industry.

Salesforce said the new fund will create the “world’s largest ecosystem of enterprise cloud companies.”

The company committed to invest $100m in European tech startups in 2015. Since then, the company’s venture capital arm has invested that money in 50 startups in 13 countries across Europe, making it the most active corporate venture capital fund in the continent.

“Europe is a clear leader in cloud technology today, and we are excited to deepen our investment in the region,” said John Somorjai, the head of Salesforce Ventures, in a statement.

Salesforce said it would invest in companies at various stages of growth, and pointed to its recent investments in UK startups, such as direct debit tech business GoCardless, which raised $75m (£58m) in February, and Onfindo, the ID card start up that raised $50m (£38bn) in April.

On Thursday, the CEO of GoCardless, Hiroki Takeuchi, said that Salesforce Ventures was a “great investment partner” for his company.

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“They are hugely supportive of our team, connecting us to the right people and proactively sharing best practices,” he said.

The enterprise cloud giant pointed to the threefold increase in start up investment in European and Israeli startups since 2013, and noted that more than 35% of the $31.3bn invested in 2018 went to companies focused on software-as-a-service (SaaS) products.

“The global shift to the cloud has created new, cutting-edge technology that has fueled customer success across industries,” Salesforce said.

Market intelligence firm IDC predicts that the public cloud services market in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa will more than double by 2023, making it worth more than $105bn.

“We see tremendous opportunity to invest in companies across Europe as this market continues to grow at scale,” said Miguel Milano, the president of international at Salesforce.