A new venture firm called BlueYard

You may have noticed a significant decay in my blogging activity recently. My excuse is that over the last few months Jason Whitmire and I have started a new venture firm called BlueYard Capital and that took up a fair amount of attention and time. With the help of our entrepreneurs, our co-investors and a whole bunch of other folks who believed in us (you know who you are) we were very fortunate to have been able to raise a $120m early stage fund that will be based in Berlin and invest across Europe.

Over the years we have developed a strong conviction around how entrepreneurs are using technology to change our markets and societies – and what we enjoy investing in. So BlueYard will be a thesis driven firm; and this is what we are thinking about most as we get started:

  • The decentralisation of markets: entrepreneurs will continue to build networks and platforms on the web (and hopefully the blockchain) that enable individuals and organisations to transact directly amongst each other, while reducing the power of gatekeepers and in other cases creating entirely new markets. We are also excited about entrepreneurs opening up markets to the uncredentialed.
  • The democratisation of capabilities: entrepreneurs have long been democratising technology; that, in turn is democratising capabilities, empowering users and organisations to do things they couldn’t before, or do them a lot better, cheaper and faster. Over time these enabling technologies can evolve into meaningful platforms and / or networks. Even though a lot of empowerment has happened through desktop and mobile internet, we think we are just getting started.
  • The liberation of data: entrepreneurs can make data more free, usable, portable and positively influence the balance of power over data*. We think a lot of interesting things will happen at the intersection of control, value and meaning from data. 

So we are trying not to think of the world too much in terms of specific sectors – but rather what the macro level economic and social changes are that technology is driving. There are a few other things we are excited about and we’ll make sure to keep an open mind. And of course we are most excited about the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs every day. This is why we get out of bed in the morning and don’t mind chewing through a topic on 2am on a Saturday morning.

At its core BlueYard is a product for entrepreneurs, everything follows from that. That is our guiding principle.

As we start this journey there are a few other things we have committed to:

  • We are prepared to shut down BlueYard after just a few fund generations (or even after the first one). We don’t want to run into the empire or legacy building trap; we want to make sure we are mentally prepared to stop doing this at any time, especially if we are not an attractive product to entrepreneurs and LPs anymore. However we fully appreciate it can take a long time to build a great venture firm.
  • During this time we plan to expand the partnership very, very gradually and only with people we have known for many years. To that extent we are very excited that Chad Fowler is joining us as a Venture Partner, adding an important element to our DNA: he is an extremely experienced, entrepreneurial and capable technology leader based with us in Berlin.
  • BlueYard will always be an equal partnership  – if and when we expand the partnership, everyone will always have equal economics in the funds they are involved in.
  • We will always be a partner driven firm – entrepreneurs will be dealing with people who can deliver the firm and make decisions; we will not outsource key entrepreneur interactions to junior investment staff.
  • We place an extreme value on honesty and transparency – between ourselves and especially with our entrepreneurs and limited partners.
  • We will never enter the maximise-assets-under-management game; small & focused is beautiful to us.

But those are just words; actions matter. So it’s back to work now.


* I wanted to keep this blog post as short as possible; but there is so much to say on each of these topics (and many other folks, too many to post here, have written great pieces on each) – but especially on the liberation of data topic. I asked Chad to look over a draft of this blog post and I didn’t want you to miss his spot-on comment on the data piece “I think an important missing aspect here is that liberated data is data you own and the central gatekeepers DON’T. This means privacy. It also creates new problems. How do you get the benefits of centralized data (intelligence) without giving the data to a central authority? I think this is a big part of it. Liberated data also means portability. Can I use my data to do my own analyses? Can I blend it with other sources which I also own to create richer intelligence? Can I move from one service to another without starting over?” This is an important debate we are having every day. It also mirrors some of the great “server vs client power” conversations (amongst many others) we’ve had with Brad over at USV who has played no small role in sharpening our thinking on many topics.  As are others, we’ll be thinking a lot about these topics — and hopefully acting on them too.


  • http://avc.com fredwilson

    congratulations Ciaran and Jason

    • http://www.berlinvc.com Ciarán O’Leary

      Danke Fred.

    • http://www.berlinvc.com Ciarán O’Leary

      Danke Fred.

  • Philipp Hartmann

    Congrats, guys!

  • henninglange

    Congrats and good luck, Ciaran and Jason!

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  • Kirsten

    Congrats team Blue Yard!

  • alexanderjarvis

    Congrats on the announcement!

  • iggyfanlo

    Congratulations… the focus on decentralization and liberalization feels to me ver much like the first stages of the internet… huge value creation, but in this case, I believe an even greater share for the community

    • http://www.berlinvc.com Ciarán O’Leary

      we’re discussing that a lot: where does value and power over data shift to and how.

    • http://www.berlinvc.com Ciarán O’Leary

      we’re discussing that a lot: where does value and power over data shift to and how.

  • Eva-Catrin Reinhardt

    Hi , I am Eva-Catrin, happy to find you here. I am a Berlin based entrepreneur, and also mother of 2, which invested all her own money and more than a lot of time to develop within the last years the seed phase of rds energies GmbH, which makes the energy change happen within the next ten years. Solution and the way is with internet solutions for matchmaking and business contact services for the renewable energy power plant world. It is important to make the market entrance possible for everybody and to build up more transparency in this market. I see the internet as the vehicle to build a new, a better and more balanced world for all of us and also the combination between old econonmy thinking and sharing philosophy helps to realize this. My thinking is beyond control, I believe in trust and loyality and in other important values. My philosophy is basing on ethical values and the wish to show that a better economy is possible and also more pofitable. I made my market test, and I plan to develop in 2016 three business fields, one is the sales field for renewable power plant assets, the other the new capital product for transforming the capital markets into something more balanced, and the third the energy change pilots portal for helping the market players to find themselves more easily. I have built up since 2008 a network to more than 4.300 market contacts (developers, investors up from 1 Mio Euro and contracting companies), I know all business modells and needs within the renewable power plant market very good, I am extremely focused to solutions and results. You can visit my websites http://www.superwitches.com and http://www.rdsenergies.com and I would be really very happy, if we could speak about possibilities in the future. I have the feeling it could fit. Happy to hear from you, Eva-Catrin e.reinhardt@rdsenergies.com I really have a big dream, with the right investor on my side, which has the same intention for democrazing the structures, it will be reality to switch a ne light and do the things, our world needs to keep it for our

    • http://www.berlinvc.com Ciarán O’Leary

      can you email me at firstname [at] blueyard [dot com]?

    • http://www.berlinvc.com Ciarán O’Leary

      can you email me at firstname [at] blueyard [dot com]?

  • Niklas Östberg

    Congrats! Great focus and fund attitude towards partnership and investments. Wish you best of luck.

    • http://www.berlinvc.com Ciarán O’Leary

      Thanks Niklas and congrats on all your successes with DH.

    • http://www.berlinvc.com Ciarán O’Leary

      Thanks Niklas and congrats on all your successes with DH.

  • Charlie Petty

    Congrats, guys!

  • Miguel Arias

    Congratulations Ciaran! and of course Jason. Many great things to come!. And the subject of the “Data of ME” is very interesting, the human being as a sensor is a powerful source of value, but who is going to capitalize this? The individuals? Tech companies? Govs?. Time will tell and making people aware of the importance of their own data generation and storage will be capital.

    • http://www.berlinvc.com Ciarán O’Leary

      That’s one of the most important / great debates we can have.

  • Avi Eyal

    Congrats. Entrée Capital does investing in Germany and we’d be happy to talk and share deals…

  • http://www.tradiio.com Aziz Morsly

    Congrats Ciaran and good luck!

  • http://www.startupmanagement.org/ William Mougayar

    Congrats Ciaran.
    Great to see you announcing this with the clarity in vision and thesis.

    • http://www.berlinvc.com Ciarán O’Leary

      Thanks – we are leaning heavily on thoughts other folks have too.

    • http://www.berlinvc.com Ciarán O’Leary

      Thanks – we are leaning heavily on thoughts other folks have too.

  • http://mobilityventures.com/ Wlodek Laskowski

    Congrats guys! You will definitely stir things up in Central Europe – I do hope you will stretch East as well as South (entrepreneurs in those places need real VCs like you) 🙂 Great manifesto – hope you can live by it. And a tip – get an amazing girl to join your team; I’m sure there is someone you know who will fit …..

    • http://www.berlinvc.com Ciarán O’Leary

      Thanks Wlodek. We backed SocialBakers in Prague, Peak Games in Istanbul, etc in our past. We hope to do more in CEE & South / Easter Europe too. Entrepreneurship is happening everywhere. Right now BlueYard is 3 men and 2 women. We very much hope to add more women to the investment team as we grow.

  • jamie247

    Ciaran it would be great to chat about OutlierVentures.io we are a European blockchain Venture Builder creating a new start-up every 3-4 months and are open to seed.

  • http://www.freddestin.com Fred Destin

    Awesome guys well done !

  • daniele

    Amazing Manifesto with a really sharp focus and an inspiring vision.

    Glad to see smart people fighting the same battle!

    Hope to talk to you soon 🙂

  • Massimo Sgrelli

    That’s huge.
    A few questions. Where is your Berlin office located? Where can I read anything more specific about your investment strategy? Any newsletters?

    Thanks and congratulations! +1

    • http://www.berlinvc.com Ciarán O’Leary

      Hi Massimo. We have a small web presence http://www.blueyard.com – but the post above contains a lot more details re the theses we are pursuing. We currently aren’t planing on a newsletter but will keep folks posted via our blogs and through @blueyard on twitter.

      • Massimo Sgrelli

        Ok. I’ll keep following you guys here.

  • http://trendseurasia.de/ qliwen

    Hi Ciaran, congratulations for this great job. I wonder whether you would like to consider inviting Chinese investment as well. If so, could you send me a message on twitter? @qliwen I am based in Berlin, too.

  • http://www.pesgreenjimdo.com Paddy Jaye

    hi I am setting up an AGRI -ROBOT factory, and I need investor I have 1 but im still open for another if 1 wants,, we have a real idea that will work and I work with very proven robot firms email please pesgreen@eircom.net ireland

  • EoghanJennings

    Well done Ciarán and Jason —This is really great news for Berlin, Germany and Europe.

  • Pietro Bezza

    Ciaran, Jason, congrats! By talking to you and reading your manifest I see lots of common principles and values we have committed here @connectventures… So l Iook forward to co-backing great teams and great ideas together

  • Eden

    Congratulations for the initiative! Its a pretty interesting way to differentiate the firm amongst the competitive landscape. Is there a possibility to learn more in detail how you define these three different investment focus? What is the startup stage BlueYard is targetting?

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  • Martin Walker

    I think entrepreneurs need to adopt the attitude of quality over quantity with respect to data collection. Gatekeepers certainly control massive swaths of data, and conventional logic seems to say that more is better. However, I think that collecting less data that is more descriptive can be equally useful. It is unlikely that a startup will be able to match a gatekeeper in the amount of data collected, so this might be the right approach for new companies. Perhaps a good way to do so is making sure that data collection is an effort to address a specific need for information. I don’t know. I’m interested in other people’s thoughts.

  • http://kwiqly.com/ James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Hi Ciaran – just picked up your name from AVC, and enjoyed you talk with Brad – We liberate insights from B2B energy consumption.

    Being early traction (but not seeking funds), we see a possible (future) option to open up a distributed marketplace for building service solutions.

    A Utility client of ours is just up the road from you (Friedrichstrasse) we see them once a month or so.

    Could I get you a coffee/beer/currywurst next time I’m in Kreuzberg for a brief brain picking session ?

    If so how best to reach you ?