Orange Ventures launches a fund of 350 million euros
At the start of the year, Orange wants to give new impetus to its investment center in start-ups. In this sense, Orange Digital Ventures becomes Orange Ventures and has a budget of 350 million euros to invest in technological companies operating in the sectors of connectivity, cybersecurity, financial services, health or even education.
While it was until then confined to seed money, the French operator’s investment fund wants to develop its spectrum of action to more mature companies in Europe and the United States. The structure also intends to shine on Africa and the Middle East, two historic regions where the group is operational. As part of its investments, Orange Ventures plans to inject tickets of up to 20 million euros per transaction.
By way of comparison, 20 million euros was the total envelope of the fund, with tickets between 500,000 and 3 million euros, for its first year of operation in 2015. At the time, the The creation of Orange Digital Ventures completed an open innovation approach which was notably materialized by the creation of Orange Fab, an acceleration program born in Silicon Valley in 2013.
A showcase of innovation “made in Orange”
For Orange, these investments represent an opportunity to enter the capital of promising start-ups, such as Luko (50 million euros raised in December 2020) in the home insurance segment. This fund also allows the French group led by Stéphane Richard to have an innovation showcase focused on start-ups. “Our wish is to create an organization that combines the best of both worlds: Orange’s business expertise as well as the agility of decision-making and the quality of financial monitoring of the best venture capital managers. We closely support each start-up post-investment in order to contribute to its development and facilitate its direct and structured access to the Orange ecosystem whenever it is relevant.», Explains Jérôme Berger, President and Managing Partner of Orange Ventures.
In addition to supporting start-ups, Orange has implemented an internal innovation strategy in recent years, with an offensive in the B2B segment, and in particular cybersecurity, and two projects relatively far from its core business , namely the neobank Orange Bank and the connected speaker Djingo. Launched in 2017 several months late, due to bugs in the mobile application, online banking Orange Bank has won over just over 500,000 customers in two years, while it expected 400,000 in its first year operating. She now claims more than a million. As for Djingo, Orange decided to stop the costs last year less than a year after the launch of the group’s connected speaker, which has never managed to find a place against Google and Amazon, including smart speakers now outrageously dominate the market.
However, the essential is elsewhere for the French operator which claims 256 million customers worldwide. “What the emergence of GAFAs, and Amazon in particular, has shown us is that in reality they have rebuilt multi-activity conglomerates. We no longer know very well in their ecosystem what their key element is“, Sébastien Crozier, president of the CFE-CGC Orange union, explained to us last year. And to add: “What Orange is doing is moving from the status of telecoms operator to that of digital operator. “