Goodbye DFJ Esprit, hello Draper Esprit and Tim Draper’s increasing interest in European startups

robin@tech.eu

DFJ Esprit, the London-based early-stage investment firm that was founded nearly a decade ago, has announced that it will henceforth go by the name Draper Esprit.

The firm also announced that iconic Silicon Valley investor Tim Draper will work closely with Draper Esprit to ramp up activities on this side of the Atlantic as it scouts for - and I'm quoting from the press release here - the "next wave of European unicorns".

We're not entirely sure whether that means the man wasn't working closely with DFJ Esprit up until now, or if anything fundamental is changing apart from the firm's name. That's exactly what we asked Simon Cook, who founded DFJ Esprit in 2006 and serves as its CEO, and he acknowledged that not much has really changed compared to, well, yesterday.

Cook did note, however, that Draper Esprit will look more closely at investments in the digital health space in the future, having recently brought on board ex-Atlas Venture investment manager Vishal Gulati. Not only is Gulati a qualified physician, he's also currently chairman of the Digital Health Forum.

Draper Esprit emphasised that its portfolio companies have already raised over $250 million in the first half of 2015, including growth rounds in Lyst (UK), Trustpilot (Denmark), Movidius (Ireland) and new investments such as Currency Fair (also Ireland). The freshly rebranded investment firm now boasts 9 partners and will continue to invest primarily in Western Europe.

We gather that Draper Esprit is poised to announce a number of exits of portfolio companies in the very near future, but Cook declined to name names. Stay tuned for news on that, though.

Draper Esprit is an independent part of the so-called Draper Venture Network (previously known as the DFJ Network), which was founded back in the nineties as an international expansion effort of Tim Draper's DFJ fund(s). Its overall track record includes investments in companies such as Baidu, Skype, Tesla, Twitch, DocuSign, Pebble, Indiegogo and Zopa.

Image credit: Kevin Krejci / Flickr

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