3i’s ex Head of European Technology joins Highland Capital Partners

An important move in the European venture space as Laurence Garrett, the former Head of 3i’s European technology team has joined Highland Capital Partners based in Geneva (though Laurence will remain living in the UK). 3i effectively abandoned the technology venture sector a few years ago much to the chagrin of individuals like Laurence who believed in the long term future of the sector.  For him to be joining an organisation such as Highland demonstrates their commitment to the technology sector in Europe and their belief that there are still significant opportunities in the space.

This is one of a number of moves that will be announced over the next few months as some of the more established players in the European venture scene take steps to retool their businesses to suit the current funding climate in Europe.

For some, these changes will be seen as defensive (too many partners with too little management fees so under-performing, frustrated or otherwise under-utilised people leave), while others will prove to be fairly aggressive moves to increase fund performance in the medium term. Expect to see more seasoned entrepreneurs, rather than financiers, joining funds. (It almost seems to be a novel idea for some reason to get experienced entrepreneurs to help build entrepreneurial businesses in Europe). This has been the norm in the US since venture began.

Highland Capital had this to say:

‘Highland Capital Partners, a leading venture capital firm with a more than twenty year history of helping great people build great companies, today announced that Laurence Garrett has joined the firm as a General Partner. Based in Highland’s Geneva office, Garrett will work to identify, fund, and grow Europe’s most promising technology and internet companies.

“We are focused on partnering with leading entrepreneurs with the ambition to build breakthrough companies and market leaders,” said Fergal Mullen, General Partner with Highland. “Laurence has a proven track record of doing so, and a strong reputation with entrepreneurs and the European venture community. He’ll be a terrific addition to the Highland team.”

Garrett is a former Partner of 3i Ventures and most recently led the 3i European technology team. He spent 14 years with 3i and led investments in several communications and technology companies, producing realized returns of over 3 times invested capital. While at 3i, Garrett’s investments included: CSR plc (IPO), UbiNetics Ltd (acquired by Aeroflex Inc), Trigenix Ltd (sold to Qualcomm Inc), Ezurio Ltd (acquired by Laird Technologies plc), Icera Inc, and Insensys Ltd (acquired by Moog Inc). He currently sits on the investment committee for Cambridge Enterprise, endorsing investments made by the Cambridge University venture funds, and is on the board of BlueGnome Ltd.

“With their global platform, Highland has an outstanding track record of being a value-add partner to exceptional entrepreneurs and management teams,” said Garrett. “I am truly excited to be working with such a dynamic group of partners committed to nurturing the next generation of market leaders.”

Highland has a significant and growing presence in Europe. The firms’ European portfolio includes such companies as Autoquake, Glasses Direct, PhotoBox, picoChip, Privalia and Spartoo.com. Garrett will be joining existing European investors Fergal Mullen and Irena Goldenberg in Highland’s Geneva office.’

Good luck to the new team and to the others forming across Europe even as we speak.