Business

Looking for the next big thing

In the search for new investments Schibsted Growth needs to be at the front in tech trends. These are some of the phenomena that has caught their interest lately.

Banking not banks

Banks are like print newspapers: a broad package of services and features, produced by old technology, delivered in a likeable but very costly way. Segment by segment this packaged offering is being attacked by niche players unburdened by legacy, technology and old distribution methods. In each niche the challenger can outcompete the package given focus and global scale.

As services delivered by banks are increasingly available from new providers users will discover that what they need is banking, not necessarily banks. The phone will be the bank, offering basic features such as identification and data storage. The user’s collection of integrated apps will be banking.

Desktop is the new print

We used to think that our businesses were safe once they were “digital”. Not anymore. The massive shift towards mobile will destroy valuations of some of the best known digital companies worldwide. If you are one of them, you need to prioritize mobile transformation now. The same challenges as in the print-to-digital transformation applies: You need to define the core value to your users and rebuild your business. Cramming existing interaction- and business models to the small screen will not be sufficient. And there are already some casualties of this new transformation: Search engine driven marketplaces are declining when digital engagement has moved into the app world. The million-dollar-question is how this will affect the company that defined the desktop web: Google.

From product to service

For years, we’ve focused on driving users and customers to our products on the web. Once we’ve captured their attention, we’ve monetized them with advertising, transaction fees and third party commission models. To succeed the next ten years, we have to tilt our heads 90 degrees and turn the modelaround: How do we build platforms and businesses that come to the customers when they need us?

This will force us to become truly service oriented organizations. We need to learn how we approach our users in their smartphones and on their wrists when they need us. This requires us to be both more friendly and even more relevant to our users. If we succeed, we will truly empower our users in their daily life.

Consumerization of SMEs

Since the 1980s, Microsoft, PC manufactures and business software vendors defined how we interact with digital tools. The Internet (driven by human needs) and Apple (putting the users first) have turned the model around. These days, you could scare small children (and kill small mammals) by telling them how enterprise software makes your life miserable. The small and medium enterprises never went digital though. “Digital” never helped them in the restaurant kitchen or when they redecorated a house. But today, they own a smartphone, they use Facebook 24/7 and have a 50″ flat-screen running Netflix. If you want to drive your SME revenues, you need to delight them with best-in-class digital tools and products. They will demand the same simplicity and ease-of-use as your consumers.

The “multi” in multimedia is finally happening

In the coming years, content will develop into experiences that include several of our senses. Companies within gaming, sports and entertainment are already starting to offer this multi-sensory experiences in Virtual Reality. If you’re a football fan, you can enter an arena as one of the players in the squad (offered in the Netherlands and Sweden). You can smell the grass or feel when the person next to you bump in to you.

There will also be more options than ever to distribute content. The cable companies’ dominance is being eroded by social media and over-the-top (such as Netflix) services. Apple has also launched a full-frontal attack on cable companies with the new Apple TV. This will change the way we consume video streams and films in years to come – all video content will be availbale on all platforms everywhere. If you care about content, you’ll need a multi-sensory, multi-channel strategy.

E-commerce re-invented

As more and more Internet users shop online, e-commerce is evolving from “dumb” digital storefronts to fully personalized and highly relevant digital experiences where users are inspired to research, plan and purchase in new ways. Thanks to new technology, e-tailers now have the tools to optimize their inventory and their online-shops more effectively than ever before.

In the evolving ecosystem for online commerce the value chain looks very different from what it used to in the offline world. The big and large-scale retailers are being disrupted by fast moving products and services that offer users better experiences through niche focus, aggregation or innovative sourcing and shipping. Who will be the winner of consumers’ love and commerce spendings? Most likely the companies that drive and develop the best products and services based on the new technologies.

Why does ad-tech still suck?

Some people would argue that digital ads have replicated their offline ancestors for as long as they have existed. That display ads are basically print ads with additional interactive elements, online video ads are TV-spots that you can click on and podcast/audio-ads are radio spots, sometimes with an additional interactive element. In some extent this is true. We have seen rapid development of new digital content, products and services so why is the innovation and pace of development so slow in ad-formats and ad-tech? Is it because publishers, entrepreneurs and users aren’t excited about ads? And if ads are not a priority, are ads as a way of monetization in fact slowly dying?

Messaging as a platform

As Mary Meeker stated in her yearly trend report, six of the top ten most popular mobile tools are now messaging apps. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Japan’s Line, and Korea’s KakaoTalk are all setting themselves up as potential broader platforms, including e-commerce. Most remarkable, and least well understood maybe, is WeChat, the dominant messaging service in China with more than 550 million active users (MAU). In contrast to Western app strategies, WeChat put a lot of functionality in a single app. They are trying to solve as many everyday problems for their users that they possibly can. They have achieved this by pioneering the app-in-the-app model where over 10 million mini-apps or accounts are granted special access to the platform (including payments) in order to fulfill all kinds of user needs. As Connie Chan notes, “WeChat reveals what’s possible when we take a mobile-first approach to platforms. The question we should ask, I believe, is how can every business rethink its model from the ground up, so it leads and not lags behind mobile?”

At its F8 Developer conference in March, Facebook launched its Messenger platform, making it easy for 3rd party developers to build useful apps that integrate with Messenger – and reach more than 600 million people that use Messenger, thus setting the stage for a WeChatesque emergence of all kinds of services on top of messaging.

Blockchain beyond bitcoin

The Blockchain is the main innovation of bitcoin, and it uses the Blockchain algorithm to achieve distributed consensus on who owns what coins. The jury is still out when it comes to the future of bitcoin, but using the Blockchain as a software development building block may prove more important than bitcoin in itself. Even if Blockchains were invented specifically for bitcoin, the Blockchain may be applied anywhere a decentralized consensus needs to be established in the presence of malicious or untrustworthy actors. Leading figures in Silicon Valley are fascinated by the Blockchain’s potential of creating a decentralization trend at the societal, legal, governance and business levels.

Open Bazaar, for example, is a source project to create a decentralized network for peer to peer commerce online. Put simply, it’s the baby of eBay and BitTorrent. And in an age where we tend towards trusting networks more than authorities, that should be an attractive proposal for many

HOW SCHIBSTED GROWTH WORKS

Schibsted’s history of entrepreneurship is reflected in many ways across the group. In Schibsted Growth, entrepreneurship is in the core of what we do. Our mission is to be the leading industrial investor and operator of digital companies in our group’s core markets. Our team of Investment Managers looks for new investment opportunities, great entrepreneurs to partner with and spend time on helping our existing portfolio companies succeed.

WHY WE INVEST
Our goal is to identify and invest in great companies in line with our strategic interests and with the potential of becoming new types of core businesses for our group. We have a long-term commitment and a healthy balance between internal synergies and financial gains.

HOW WE INVEST
We invest cash to provide companies with the financial assets they need to grow, scale and ultimately to become market leaders. We also invest time and provide our portfolio companies with access to the Schibsted ecosystem that can be leveraged in order to maximize growth in several aspects

WHAT PARTNERING MEANS FOR US
A true partnership means mutual goals, independently run companies and becoming a part of the family on equal terms for all our portfolio companies.

WHAT WE LOOK FOR
We look at macro, technology and business trends and follow the development of new market opportunities closely. Based on this research we continuously look for companies that solve interesting problems for their users. Most interesting to us right now are companies working on:

  • Fintech/innovative finance/personal finance Helping users (consumers or businesses) make smarter financial decisions, adding transparency, reducing friction by innovating or disrupting existing value chains or processes.
  • Reinvention of commerce Helping users or businesses buy, sell or distribute goods in new and smarter ways. • Collaborative economy and marketplaces Enabling users to buy, sell, share or rent in new ways.
  • Digital lifestyle/digital society New types of consumer services enabled by new technology and new types of user needs.
  • Digitalization/consumerization of SMEs Helping small and medium sized enterprises with their daily challenges and needs in new and improved ways.

HOW WE CHOOSE
To determine which companies to invest in we look at the current state and future potential of the company. The areas we pay close attention to are:

  • Team
  • Market and competition
  • Technology and product
  • Business model
  • Schibsted synergies

WHAT’S YOUR IDEA?
Contact pontus.ogebjer@schibsted.se or richard.sandenskog@schibsted.se

NAME: Miriam Grut Norrby

TITLE: Investment Manager, Schibsted Growth Sweden

YEARS IN SCHIBSTED: 3

I'M EXCITED ABOUT: Start-ups!

NAME: Richard Sandenskog

TITLE: Investment Manager, Schibsted Growth Sweden

YEARS IN SCHIBSTED: 8

I'M EXCITED ABOUT: Figure out what will drive people and businesses the coming ten years when the rules of the game constantly change and "truths" only survive for two to three years

NAME: Dan Oucherlony

TITLE: Head of Personal Finance, Schibsted Growth

YEARS IN SCHIBSTED: 2005

I'M EXCITED ABOUT: Helping people make the most of their money

NAME: Marine Desbans

TITLE: Investment Manager, Schibsted Growth France

YEARS IN SCHIBSTED: 3

I'M EXCITED ABOUT: How advancements in technology can enhance society in more than an economic sense

NAME: Rune Røsten

TITLE: Investment Manager, Schibsted Growth Norway

YEARS IN SCHIBSTED: 8

I'M EXCITED ABOUT: Fascinated by technology that enables transparency and brings changes to every part of society from mountain biking to the real estate market

NAME: Pontus Ogebjer

TITLE: Investment Manager, Schibsted Growth France

YEARS IN SCHIBSTED: 16

I'M EXCITED ABOUT: I'm passionate about making good business! Bothe the search for opportunities and the actual execution