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O'Leary raises €105m for a second VC fund

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Ciaran O’Leary’s, of Berlin-based VC investment firm Blue Yard Capital

Ciaran O’Leary’s, of Berlin-based VC investment firm Blue Yard Capital

Ciaran O’Leary’s, of Berlin-based VC investment firm Blue Yard Capital

Ciaran O'Leary's Berlin-based VC investment firm Blue Yard Capital has launched a second fund of $120m (€105m) to back the latest technologies and futuristic types of food.

The announcement comes just over six weeks after the firm put €6.7m into Pitch, a challenger to presentation software PowerPoint, Keynote and others.

It is understood that O'Leary and his co-founder Jason Whitmire have personally invested in the second fund. Typically, VC partners will invest about 2pc of the total raised.

As with their first €110m fund, raised in 2016, their investors are mainly universities' endowment funds and a number of foundations in the US. "We chose to keep the fund the same size, as I think we will always be quite small, and we didn't want to increase bureaucracy and further complications that come with being bigger," O'Leary told the Sunday Independent.

It's understood that 50pc of the first fund - amounting to about €55m - has now been invested. The other 50pc of the first one is mainly to do follow-on investments in startups it has already backed.

"We discussed the economic storm clouds on the horizon, but the early stage investing we're doing isn't immediately impacted by the wider economic environment. Our investors are highly experienced institutions that understand the environment," he added. "We hope, if anything, that things are now less frothy in tech, so that makes the market more attractive for us. We have some investments in cryptocurrencies but we haven't done anything in that space for some time because of our concerns about the market conditions."

Last October, Blue Yard also invested just over €3m in Meatable, a company that grows meat cells in a laboratory, and is interested in investing further in this space.

Blue Yard is broadly interested in investments based on the decentralisation of markets, the liberation of data, and empowerment of users.

O'Leary and Whitmire are also interested in backing more startups like Pitch, "that create best-in-class vertical tools or specialised software, which is lightweight and browser-based, collaborative and with strong growth and revenue potential. They should openly integrate with the web and empower users".

To this end, they've also backed online 3D design software Vectary, and StdLib, an online library for web services.

"It's a very limited space, admittedly, and there are only so many shots in it that you can take. But if you think about something like Excel, it's perhaps the world's biggest database," he said.

O'Leary, a son of former IDA chief Barry O'Leary, met Whitmire at Berlin VC firm Earlybird, where they both previously worked.

Sunday Indo Business