Monday, November 14, 2011

Who is Talking about Brazil in London? Recap of the NOAH Conference

It was a grand setting for a tech conference - a classical facade topped with a busty bronze lady, an outdoor cocktail patio on the bank of the Thames, a vaulted open space with color-changing uplighting, effusive plant arrangements, and a seemingly countless number of cocktail waiters.  Europe's leading VCs and entrepreneurs converged in London last week for the city's premier annual tech event, the NOAH Conference.  Organized by NOAH Advisors, a boutique internet-focused advisory firm and especially its founder Marco Rodzynek, the gathering drew approximately 1,500 attendees to hear from Europe's leading tech lights.

Germany and Spain were the stars of the show.  It seems Europe's startup center is quickly converging on Berlin.  The low costs, university talent and strong venture capital community have fostered a wave of new companies.  London probably retains its place as the technology center but the Germans are catching up quickly.  I was also surprised to see the strong presence of Spain, especially Barcelona.  We heard from industry leading firms like Softonic (by far the market leader in LatAm), Budgetplaces, Trovit and Privalia - all based in Barcelona.

Brazil was a top theme for many firms.  Examples worth highlighting:  Most of the $80mm in annual revenue for fashion flash sales site, Privalia, comes from Brazil.  Criteo, a online display advertising firm that claims to have "search like" click through rates, recently opened an office in Sao Paulo.  Just Eat, launched its Brazil site, Just Delivery, in September.  Homeaway, a home rental site, recently opened their first Brazilian office in Rio. The largest market, by far, for Israeli translation company, Babylon, is English to Portuguese translation in Brazil.  It's clear - Brazil is a huge portion of many overseas companies' success.

Interestingly, we also learned that Facebook is reducing its "growth" team in Brazil.  They believe they have won the market and are now focused on their new growth markets in Japan and Russia.

A big congrats goes out to Marco for a conference that was, by several accounts, a success.

 P.S. I mentioned Benjamin White and 21212 in a recent post.  They recently picked their first class of startups.  Check out a great article by Anna Heim in The Next Web to see all about the progress of this Rio/New York incubator.

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