Northzone, the venture capital firm, has added a new partner to its ranks in Paul Murphy, the former CEO of mobile gaming company Dots. He will be joining the firm’s London office in the coming months and will have a strong transatlantic focus.
Murphy was cofounder and CEO of Dots, based in New York, which was spun out from Betaworks, the startup studio that produced Giphy and Bitly. Prior to this, he was at Microsoft, holding a number of senior positions in the US, UK, and India, and was then COO of photo editing startup Aviary before it was acquired by Adobe in 2014. He is also an angel investor in several startups.
As a partner at Northzone, he will be providing his background in both consumer products and enterprise software to help in bridging the gap between the European and US tech ecosystems.
“My interests are actually quite broad. I spent the bulk of my time at Microsoft in the enterprise business. It sounds boring, but I actually love SaaS companies, I love enterprise software, developer tools, so I’m excited about getting closer to that stuff having been in consumer tech for the past five years,” he explained to Tech.eu.
“Initially my goal is to get embedded in the London ecosystem in the same way I am right now in New York and take a broad view and see anything from gaming companies, which I obviously have some experience in, to enterprise software. I’ll try not to get too sector focused at this stage.”
Murphy has seen both sides of the coin when it comes to US and European startups and investing. With funding from Northzone, he led Dots through its European expansion. On the flipside, he was an advisor for Swedish fashion/ecommerce company Bloglovin and helped the company make its move to New York.
In his new role at Northzone, he will bring a transatlantic focus to his investments and some key insights for helping European founders reach across the Atlantic, whether that’s finding the right locations or making the right connections for talent and partnerships.
“All of the tactical items – office space, legal incorporating – there are professionals that can solve that for you. The biggest thing that European founders wrestle with at first is adjusting to the American culture,” he said.
European founders can be stumped by the hiring process and different expectations among US candidates compared to Europe.
“Americans have a tendency to overplay their hand or play a pretty strong hand and come across as fairly confident,” he said, regaling a story of one founder’s experience of hiring in New York.
“This founder was saying he was actually having a difficult time when they were interviewing their initial team in New York because they met these people, the résumé was good, and they talked a great game but then when it came down to what they actually achieved, the results were mixed. That was not their experience when they were recruiting in Europe. I think like any country, there’s a cultural nuance.”
The other side of the spectrum is building a presence among partners and potential customers stateside. Spotify, a Northzone portfolio company, has made a success of this through its New York office but it is more of an exception to the rule.
“Some of the biggest names in the startup world from Europe are still not household names in the US so just having a familiar face that can give a warm introduction is incredibly helpful for most founders.”
Murphy will be initially based in Northzone’s New York office until May before locating to London. Northzone’s portfolio of investments also include Klarna, Tobii and it recently recommitted to Swedish online fashion retailer NA-KD. It has offices in Stockholm, Oslo, London, and New York.