Irishman’s global VC BlueYard Capital raises €105m fund

8 Jan 2019

Berlin, where BlueYard Capital is based. Image: © Maurice Tricatelle/

Ciarán O’Leary’s fast-growing venture capital firm is eyeing opportunities in the future of work, data science and planetary sustainability.

After raising its first fund (€110m) in 2016, venture capital (VC) firm BlueYard Capital, co-founded by Dubliner Ciarán O’Leary, has just raised a new €105m ($120m) fund entitled BlueYard 2.

In recent weeks, BlueYard Capital took part in a Series A investment worth €6.4m in presentation software player Pitch – which was created by the founders of Wunderlist – alongside Index Ventures and the Slack Fund.

‘Learning and keeping an open mind regarding entrepreneurial opportunities will remain at the core of our DNA’

Since it was founded in 2016, BlueYard has invested in up to 20 start-ups, including: P2P e-wallet firm AirTM; blockchain players Centrifuge and Decred; data storage player Filecoin; programmable cell tech firm Meatable, which is creating entirely new forms of meat; decentralised marketplace OB1; open source software network Oscoin; decentralised protocols creator Protocol Labs; AI satellite imagery platform SpaceKnow; web services library StdLib; privacy player Textile; and 3D-modelling platform Vectary.

Thesis-driven investing

It is understood that O’Leary met co-founder Jason Whitmire while both of them worked at Earlybird in Berlin. While at Earlybird, O’Leary was instrumental in backing Christian Reber’s previous venture, Wunderlist, which was acquired by Microsoft.

Writing in Medium, BlueYard said that in the past few years, its journey has seen it invest in the creation of a new web stack, the untangling of financial services by monolithic banking institutions, unbundling the knowledge worker stack and investing in planetary sustainability.

“When we announced ‘A new venture firm called BlueYard’ in January 2016, we set out to build a thesis-driven firm that would take a view on the world and the forces shaping markets and societies for us to invest around. A firm that would stay focused on right-sized early-stage funds, with a small partnership and tightly knit team to deploy capital into early-stage contrarian investments. We also committed to not changing that in any future fund.

“So today, we are announcing we have raised our second fund  –  and it should therefore come as no surprise that it is essentially ‘same size, same team, same thesis, same strategy, same LPs [limited partners]’.”

Looking to its new fund, BlueYard said that the investment journey is a “team sport” driven by investing in incredible founders and being a good partner “for our entire ecosystem”.

The portfolio is located in Amsterdam, Berlin, Bratislava, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Palo Alto, Prague, San Francisco, Stockholm and Warsaw, with many teams operating with decentralised global teams and no HQ.

The company also announced two new analyst jobs as well as a head of platform to manage its growing ecosystem of content and events on top of investments.

It said: “Whereas we remain focused on our thesis, we are agnostic as to specific technologies that can help achieve our thesis and what verticals they are applied to. So, we continue to spend time learning and evolving our views on anything from how quantum computing can – via quantum chemistry simulations (fertilisers, catalytic converters, electric batteries etc) – help us use the planet’s resources better; what operating systems for life and the future of manufacturing, engineering and medicine could look like; to how AI/ML [machine learning] can enhance and threaten human capabilities at the same time ,  amongst a range of other topics.

“Learning and keeping an open mind regarding entrepreneurial opportunities will remain at the core of our DNA.”

Updated, 10.13am, 8 January 2019: This article was updated to clarify that BlueYard Capital was founded in 2016 and raised its first fund that same year.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years