Machine intelligence has, in recent years, emerged as one of the most exciting new frontiers in technology. It is powering innovative new approaches to tackling issues across almost every industry, from autonomous vehicles to agriculture and medicine. At Atomico we’re big believers that technology is not only capable of solving some of humanity’s biggest problems, but is indeed necessary to do so. Software, however, relies on hardware to deliver its potential. And when it comes to AI, current hardware is proving a poor fit for the task.

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Last year I wrote a post on Medium decrying the often less-than-smart approach to hiring taken by startups in Europe, and talking about how this was often impacting their ability to scale as a result. We held an event in July on hiring advice for Series A and B founders (video embedded below) – ahead of that, I thought it might be useful to revisit the topic and share some more of my thinking with you. You can read my original post here, but let me summarise my arguments for you again in case you’re feeling a little TL;DR:

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28.06.2017

We’re back again with the latest insights from Tom and Stephen, this week focusing on dual Europe-US companies, McKinsey’s thoughts on how tech giants are approaching AI, and the potential implications for tech investment and innovation of regulation…

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In the latest of our occasional series of interviews with founders and CEOs – distributed each month through the Atomico newsletter, which you can sign up to here – we talk to Kati Levoranta of Rovio

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I am often asked how we managed to make Skype a success in one of the most challenging territories in the world – after all, much like Mordor, one does not simply walk into China. While there were many factors at play which conspired to enable us to establish Skype as a serious player in the Chinese market, I thought it would be helpful for founders to read a few of my thoughts on the lessons we learned whilst setting up – following the launch of ‘Europe Meets China’, our report into the games industry, it seemed timely to share these lessons with you. I hope you find them useful:

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Slightly sooner than normal, our latest update covers complications in China-US investment into AI, Games-as-a-Service, and what the automotive industry thinks comes next in autonomous vehicles…

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Our thesis is that great companies now come from everywhere and so we’re always on the move, looking to find the most ambitious entrepreneurs, to help them execute their plans to improve the way we live. At Atomico we invest in global opportunities where we know that we can help scale a business in specific markets around the world. One of the places we’ve been spending time recently, and where we see clear momentum around the tech scene, is Los Angeles. And we believe we’ve unearthed a global category leader in LA-headquartered Clutter.

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Over the last few years traditional industries have embraced the power of technology. In 2016, two thirds of Europe’s largest corporates by market cap made a direct investment in a tech company, while one third acquired a tech company since the beginning of 2015. For many, their interest goes even further than transactions – 40% are running active tech-focused accelerator programmes and over half have their own corporate venture funds including Axel Springer, Allianz and Deutsche Telekom.

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Another edition of our almost-fortnightly series of Need-to-Know briefings, this week covering recent IPOs and what they tell us about the market, how founders can sometimes be a barrier to growth, and questions over when the AIs will finally take over…

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At the launch of Europe Meets China, our new report on the games industry, our Head of Research (and the report’s author) Tom Wehmeier spoke at length to the Atomico Games Team – Mattias Ljungman, Alexis Bonte and Stephen Thorne – about their thoughts on the state of the industry, its direction, and how they see Europe and China competing and consolidating in the future…

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Two weeks ago, I was honoured to be able to present our research report ‘Europe Meets China’ to an audience of Chinese games industry luminaries in Shanghai. Today I’m equally honoured to be able to share it with the wider world; it’s a fascinating look at one of the biggest and fastest-growing sectors in the world, one which has an almost limitless market, and one which is of growing interest to investors worldwide.   The report, which you can download here and which is embedded below, looks at how the games industry is developing and how its particular qualities make synergies between Europe and China so fascinating, from both a development and investment point of view. Obviously I encourage you to download and read the report yourselves and form your own conclusions from the data we present, but I’d also like to share some thoughts of my own – and from Atomico’s wider gaming team – on what it means and what you should take away from it.   Europe Meets China – How The Games Industry Is Evolving from Atomico

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At Atomico, we’ve long-believed in the great potential for business success in Europe. Since we launched in 2006, Atomico has been banging the drum for the strength of the European ecosystem. Throughout, Estonia has played a key part in the Atomico story, with Niklas having established Skype there back in 2003 and continuing to the present day with our recent investment in Pipedrive. We see the present moment as an inflection point for the tech ecosystem there: funding amounts are heading in the right direction, Tallinn has a greater density of startups per capita than many of the more traditionally revered European hubs, Estonia has a higher density of developers than any other EU country, and of course, with a small domestic market, Estonian startups are all born with an international outlook hardwired into their DNA.

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23.05.2017

Fifteen years ago a technology company shipped PCs, operating systems, or word-processing software. Today, technology companies are at the core of most of the world’s major industries. Look at Facebook, Uber or Airbnb, who all leveraged technology to drive fundamental change in the way things are done. Machine learning is at the start of the same journey. Today it is still an emerging technology, used by a small number of cutting-edge companies to improve their products with more accurate insights or better user experiences.

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We recently took a few minutes to ask Iñigo Juantegui, CEO and co-founder of our latest investment OnTruck, a few questions about his founder journey, and what he sees as the most important qualities in entrepreneurship…

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12.05.2017

Another edition of our almost-fortnightly series of Need-to-Know briefings, this week bringing you the inside track on the new data economy, the role of government in machine learning, Chinese challengers and some new emerging trends in Europe’s investor landscape…

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It is no secret that the global transportation sector is being re-defined by technology and that this is leading to fundamental changes in how people live.   The ride-sharing model is the clearest example of this from a consumer perspective, allowing people to give up individual car ownership, generating personal savings and yet still feel like they are more mobile. This transformation continues with the mainstream adoption of fully electric challenger car brands like Tesla, and next generation companies like Lilium with electric vertical takeoff and landing jets for mass commuter transport!

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As humans we progress incrementally – through constant advances in technology, science, commerce and many other endeavours. We build bit-by-bit on what has gone before, gradually improving our world.   But there are also genuine breakthrough moments, seismic shifts that change the way we think and define what the future will look like.   To be privy to these moments, and even involved in making them happen, is a true honour.   As a founder they are what you strive for and the memory that most endures.

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Farmdrop, the online grocery platform that connects farmers and producers directly with local customers, makes us all feel good about what we do. Investing in ambitious founders who are using technology to disrupt large sectors is our job. But when those companies are also profoundly transforming a facet of people’s lives, making them better, healthier and more sustainable, we are thrilled.

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The latest in our regular series of useful snippets of information from the founder / VC space which you may have missed, this week taking in insights on European investment figures, Facebook’s F8 event and the future of AR, and the wisdom of Jeff Bezos…

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13.04.2017

Last week, Google DeepMind announced that they had open sourced Sonnet, a software library that draws on DeepMind’s internal best practices for quickly building neural network modules in TensorFlow. This is a great resource, leveraging the collective experiences of some of their 250 highly skilled engineers, released to enable others to more effectively apply machine learning to their problems. In fact, over the last few years, the world’s biggest tech companies (including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, Baidu, Amazon and more) and university research labs have open sourced at least 2.5 million lines of machine learning platform code (see table below), which equates to over 650 man years or $80m in development costs. These toolkits are now freely available online, and many such as TensorFlow and Paddle are accompanied by significant volumes of training and example materials. As such, they can be viewed as an incredible initial investment into any company looking to use machine learning as an enabling technology for their product.

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