At the brand new Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco last night, the team at European VC firm Wellington Partners celebrated the addition of an outpost in Palo Alto to their existing offices in London and Munich with a swell mixer. The hors d'oeuvres? Cheese gougères, tiny lamb chops, mushroom napoleons, Kobe beef sliders, croutons with creme fraiche, smoked salmon and caviar and a bite-sized tuna tartar, all washed down with French wine which topped $300 a bottle — which, as the joke went, "Is like, what, 20 euros?" Mahalo founder Jason Calacanis explained that for European private equity investors, the American market offers a double-dip:
Investing in companies, even at late stages, is a relative bargain because of the strong euro, and once a company goes public, the returns are doubled again because companies trade at a much higher price-to-earnings ratio on average than the do in Europe. However, after telling a story about entrepreneurs turning land in southwestern France being managed by the government into a newly productive wine region from which guests were tippling the bounty, Wellington's Eric Archambeau explained that the new office was going to focus on business development. "Who needs another VC in Silicon Valley?" he quipped.
One of the companies in which Wellington has invested is Seesmic, the online-video tool founded by the crushingly gregarious Loic le Meur, who bent our ear over enabling his company's technology in our comments. If it means TechCrunch's Michael Arrington might drop by to share some of his deep thoughts, then I might just be able to make Le Meur's case with our publisher.