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“An incredibly important moment for London and for European tech”

 Bernard Liautaud of Balderton Capital, an early investor in THG, on the significance of the THG IPO

How has Balderton worked with THG? 

Matt Moulding first came in to meet our partnership in March of 2010 and by April, we had invested. We chose to invest a further four times in the two years that followed, to support that early start-up phase. It was clear to us that The Hut Group was a unique investment from the very beginning. They are a team with incredibly strong leadership and their success is the result of their relentless drive and clarity of vision. It has been a privilege to watch Matt, John and their team build the company over the past decade. 

As investors, we like to be active board members and advisors. Our equal partnership structure enabled us to engage our full team to support THG’s evolving needs. Over the course of the past ten years since our original investment, through the involvement of three general partners (two on the board, and one as advisor) and our operating partner, we hope to have played a supportive role through some of the important moments in the company’s growth, including their move towards health and beauty, the development of the company’s technology platform, and the IPO.

How do you support and invest in founders pre and post IPO?

Our aim is always to help founders stay the course and remain CEO for the entire company journey. The Hut Group is a great example of a business where Matt as the CEO and founder was able to personally adapt and grow alongside the business. We also strongly believe in growth through peer support.

As early-stage investors, we often step off the board when the company becomes public, which has been the case here, and there are also cases where we have remained active on the board post IPO. 

What does this IPO mean to the wider ecosystem? What’s the relevance of this IPO for the tech sector and London?  

This is an incredibly important moment for London and for European tech more broadly. 

In the past, some successful European tech companies chose to move to the US, raise their future rounds from growth investors in the Bay Area, New York or Boston, and then list on Nasdaq or NYSE.  However, the notion that tech companies need to move their headquarters and list outside of Europe to be successful now no longer holds true. 

THG is a great example of this - the team was born and bred in Manchester, raised capital primarily from European sources and then, as the company scaled, directly tapped into a global investor base through a London listing.

One of our core beliefs is that it is possible to build global technology giants that are resolutely and proudly European and The Hut Group proves this. Europe already has all the raw material in the form of large markets, incredible talent and growing entrepreneurial ambition. 

The Hut Group team has built a technology leader that continuously defines its market, not just here in the UK and Europe but across the globe and they’ve done it their way, blazing a confident path for more to come. 

What are the unique features of this IPO? And how can this be a template for other tech companies to access London?

For us, the important point is that this is a European company listing in Europe. London has long been a centre for tech excellence, and this increases its visibility on the global stage. 

Can you comment on Balderton not selling its shares in the IPO?

We are confident in The Hut Group’s future growth plans. We have seen first-hand how they have intelligently invested in their future, predicted consumer trends, and relentlessly driven to succeed. They were an early pioneer in direct to consumer, an eCommerce approach that we believe is only set to expand even further globally.

 

Bernard Liautaud

Managing Partner, Balderton Capital

 

See the THG case-study