2021 has been a milestone year for global markets and the broader tech ecosystem, with both private company funding rounds and public markets reaching record highs. We at TCV have celebrated our own milestone, marking our 26th anniversary investing in what we see as some of the most transformative public and private crossover technology companies around the globe.

We kicked off 2021 by announcing the closing of the $4 billion dollar TCV XI, our largest fund to-date, bringing our total AUM to ~$26 billion, as of end of November. We’ve also started our investing journey in TCV XI with a new cohort of remarkable growth companies, including Attentive, Aviatrix, Brex, Built Technologies, Celonis, Cognite, Devo, FarEyeHotmart, Kipu, Mollie, OneTrust, Trade Republic and Trulioo. So far this year we’ve already celebrated the public listings[1] of 14 portfolio companies (starting with the most recent listing): Nubank, HashiCorp, Grupa Pracuj, SiteMinder, Rent the Runway, GitLab, Toast, Nerdy, Sportradar, CCC Intelligent Solutions, Rover, LegalZoom, Payoneer, and Believe.

These public debuts followed an equally impactful 2020, with Airbnb’s blockbuster IPO, as well as TCV’s sale of its positions in AxiomSL, Cradlepoint, Genesys and Silver Peak.

Crossover is our middle name: TCV aims to support the world’s most compelling technology companies from the private markets through IPO and beyond

As we head towards the end of this momentous year, we’ve never felt more conviction in our decades-long investment strategy: to seek to patiently back existing and future category leaders with the financial and advisory resources they need to fulfill their visions.

We believe at TCV that the sky’s the limit to what significant technology companies can achieve. As investors and advisors, the greatest asset we can provide them is unwavering support at every stage of their growth, whether they’ve just achieved product-market fit, they’re preparing to go public, or they’re decades past their IPO, entering uncharted channels or markets. Unlike many investors who view IPOs as a time to exit, TCV, in select cases, often uses them as an opportunity to add exposure in portfolio companies as a show of confidence in continued growth and value creation initiatives. Company management teams understand what it means when TCV backs a company. Take Netflix, for example

TCV first invested in Netflix in 1999. Following the dot.com crash of 2000, investors grew weary of internet-based businesses, so TCV stepped in to lead the company’s recapitalization in 2001. When the company went public in 2002 at a market cap of approximately $300 million, TCV remained invested in the company. Then in 2005 when many public market investors grew concerned about Netflix’s competitive positioning, TCV doubled down, investing yet more capital into the business. Finally, in 2011 as public market investors once again grew concerned about Netflix’s strategy, this time about their decision to prioritize streaming over mail-order DVDs, TCV injected yet another $200 million into the company. Barry McCarthy, former Netflix CFO, has said that “If there wasn’t TCV, there wouldn’t be Netflix.”[2]

We believe the best advice comes from repeated front-row growth experience

TCV’s approach since day one has always been more than our willingness to invest and reinvest through thick and thin. It has been our firm belief that the strongest investment partners provide something far more valuable than assets alone.

TCV can provide the kind of expertise that comes from having partnered with more than 350 growth companies on a global scale. Our rich network of hands-on advisors, principals and partners is distinctively qualified to provide the actionable, expert advice that comes from front-row, first-hand experience scaling some of what we believe to be some of the most successful businesses in the world. That’s why global fintech superstar Revolut chose to partner with TCV.

“We’re on a mission to build a global financial platform – a single app where our customers can manage all of their daily finances. TCV has a long history of backing founders who are changing their industries on a global scale, so we are excited to partner with them as we prepare for the next stage of our journey,” said Nik Storonsky, Founder & CEO

TCV’s success has been the result of our thesis-driven, thematic approach and ability to identify existing and future category leaders. B2B and B2C technology have always been areas of strength, and we’ll continue to invest in those sectors within the U.S., Europe and across the globe. Looking ahead, we’re also excited to back leaders in several areas that have recently matured to a point where we believe there are now exceptional companies ready to benefit from growth equity investments. Some of the themes we find particularly compelling include:

  • The Rise of Digital-Native Financial Services: Today’s consumers expect to be able to conduct all of their personal and professional financial activities online, from transferring assets, to paying for goods and services, to managing, tracking and auditing payments and expenses. They want streamlined, transparently priced, simple-to-use, convenient and secure platforms that integrate with all of their key financial partners, so that moving money becomes as easy as sending a text message. The more consumers become comfortable with and trust these platforms, the more they’ll look for additional ways to engage with them, such as via investments and wealth management. We believe there are clear tailwinds in the adoption of not only digitally native banking platforms and wallets, but also in the core infrastructure enabling them, such as rapid and secure vertical payment capabilities which can be integrated into customer workflows.
  • The Adoption of Digitally-Delivered Education: The digital media consumption habits of K-12 school-age kids, Gen Z’s and Millennials are driving similar behavioral trends in education as we’re seeing in fintech. Increasingly, today’s students expect lessons and related content to be available on-demand in immersive, interactive and gamified environments. COVID-19 accelerated this trend dramatically, leading to the wide-scale adoption of digital direct-to-consumer learning tools. Now that students and educators have seen what’s possible, we believe there’s no turning back.
  • The Rapid Shift to the Cloud: Global enterprises are engaged in what we believe is a once-in-a-generation shift from on-premise infrastructure to the public cloud, often adopting two or more cloud providers. There’s tremendous demand for and therefore opportunity to invest in platform companies that integrate security, networking, data infrastructure, IT operations management and developer tooling into multifunction cloud-based architectures. The shift towards cloud-based infrastructure we believe will also give rise to exciting new B2B cloud-based technologies that increase developer productivity, improve risk and compliance management, and capture, organize and leverage data for improved, more widespread data-driven decision making. 
  • Vertical-Specific “Full Potential” SaaS: We believe that vertical SaaS vendors that own a front and/or back office system of record are seeing increases in customer uptake, competitive moats, and therefore economic opportunity. These systems of record serve as control points, from which vendors can enter product and service adjacencies through data, workflow, and account ownership advantages. By leveraging a control point to extend through a value chain within a vertical, SaaS vendors can delight end customers and turn their products into platforms. Over time, their platforms behave like networks among end users, their customers, and their suppliers, enabling these vendors to capture the “full potential” of their vertical.
  • The Acceleration of Digital Fitness Applications: Fitness has been digitizing for a long time, but COVID turbo-charged the trend. Adoption and engagement of digital fitness applications have never been higher and will only continue to rise. Peloton founder and CEO John Foley once declared in our Growth Journeys podcast that, “Fitness as a category has been broken forever.” TCV seeks to back companies that are fixing the category with meaningfully improved business models and carefully executed go-to-market strategies. We firmly believe that applications that bring digital fitness both to the home and outdoors in structured ways will define the future of the industry.
  • The Digitization of Health Care: The $4 trillion U.S. health care industry has long been broken. Despite the US spending nearly 2x more per capita than the average OECD country, our health outcomes are worse due to a combination of care delivery that is reactive and episodic, imbalanced supply and demand, and misaligned incentives. We believe that the healthcare industry is ripe for technology disruption and that COVID-19 has significantly accelerated adoption of digital health technologies across all stakeholders in this ecosystem. Digital health technologies have already driven higher patient engagement, leading to better patient outcomes while reducing costs. TCV is eager to back companies that leverage technology to fix our broken healthcare system and put patients back in control of their own healthcare journeys.
  • The Unlocking of Ecommerce’s Full Potential: Despite the rapid growth of ecommerce over the past two decades, it still only accounts for just more than 13 percent of total retail sales, with tremendous opportunity remaining for growth. While some types of purchases occur on a one-off basis, there are many exciting new and soon-to-be built online businesses that we believe will offer consumers high-utility products and services that they desire. Many of these online offerings will be compelling to consumers on an ongoing, subscription basis.
  • The Enablement of the Prosumer Economy: The pandemic has inspired record-numbers of innovators to leave conventional employment opportunities in pursuit of their passions, often as a replacement to their previous day jobs. However, we believe today’s prosumers are not sufficiently well-served by available distribution platforms, which do a good job of getting them views but not revenue. We’re excited to invest in new platforms that enable prosumers to own their audiences and gain control over their financial destinies and creative freedom. We believe the prosumer economy still lacks a middle class, and TCV is eager to support companies that help prosumers build, run, manage and grow their digital businesses.

Looking ahead: We believe the next quarter century holds even more promise than the last

The past quarter century of investing has been a remarkable adventure in which we’ve been fortunate to invest in more than 350 companies, including category leaders like Airbnb, EA, ExactTarget, Netflix, Spotify, Facebook, Splunk, and Zillow. We believe that track record positions us well to enter this next quarter century from a position of strength, focus and conviction as we set out to find and back the next generation of category leaders. Whatever it takes, as long as it takes, we are here to help them turn their visions into reality.

This article is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase an interest in any private fund managed or sponsored by TCMI, Inc. or its affiliates (“TCV”) or any of the securities of any company discussed. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. There can be no assurance that any TCV fund or investment will achieve its objectives or avoid substantial losses. The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of TCV. TCV has not verified the accuracy of any statements by the speakers and disclaims any responsibility therefor. Logos are included for illustrative purposes only. Inclusion of such logos does not imply endorsement by, or, in some instances, any current affiliation with, such companies. The TCV portfolio companies identified are not necessarily representative of all TCV investments, and no assumption should be made that the investments identified were or will be profitable. For a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com/all-companies/. For additional important disclaimers regarding this article, please see “Informational Purposes Only” in the Terms of Use for TCV’s website, available at http://www.tcv.com/terms-of-use/.

[1] Public listings include IPOs, direct listings, and SPAC transactions.

[2] This endorsement was given by an executive advisor of TCV that has served as an executive and/or director at several TCV portfolio companies, including his current role as CFO and director at Spotify. No compensation was provided for such endorsement although under certain circumstances executive advisers are permitted to invest in TCV funds. This endorsement is not representative of all endorsements of TCV. Please see TCV’s Form ADV for additional important information related to executive advisors.