Tommy Kelly’s Castlegate is providing 30 million euros for tech venture funds

Castlegate Investments, the private family office investment vehicle of eShopworld (ESW) founder Tommy Kelly, has invested €30 million in a large fund of publicly traded venture capital firm Molten Ventures.

The syndication agreement, completed in November, significantly increases the clout of Molten’s £130m (€150m) seed and early-stage fund of funds, making Mr Kelly an influential anchor investor for future deals.

Half of Castlegate’s contribution will be used to acquire part of Molten’s existing portfolio, which is spread across 67 VC managers with interests in more than 1,500 promising European technology companies.

The remaining half will be held for future commitments to the fund of funds, which as at 30 September had committed £72m of its available funds, and potential one-off deals with other syndicate investors.

“With this significant transaction, we intend to further expand the syndication of our program, offer other investors access to the most innovative seed and early-stage fund managers across Europe through Molten, and create opportunities to invest collectively and deploy further capital in direct opportunities within of their portfolio companies,” Molten said in a statement.

The commitment is the latest in a series of investments by Castlegate since the €500m personal private equity fund launched in 2021, with former Goodbody chief executive Roy Barrett at the helm. It comes as valuations of tech companies fall due to rising interest rates that have cut off cheap financing.

Castlegate first entered the technology space earlier this year, leading a €21m funding round for CWSI, a Dublin-based IT security company with a blue-chip client list including Glanbia and Eircom.

But the 500 million euro Family Office has also diversified. Castlegate bought leading real estate agent Sherry Fitzgerald for €50m in May and installed Mr Barrett on the board.

It followed his third deal in July, spearheading a €17m funding round for popular Irish sports brand Gym + Coffee. Last month, Castlegate became a minority shareholder in fast-growing cosmetics company Kash.

Molten became the first European VC firm to go public (as Draper Esprit) in 2016 when Mr Barrett’s Goodbody led its €102m IPO.

The FTSE 250 company builds investments in both public and private technology companies and finances new investments from proceeds from exits. Revolut, N26, Trustpilot and Irish drone delivery startup Manna are among its core holdings.

Shares have had a terrible year, falling more than 63 percent as investors lost confidence in the valuations of tech companies around the world. The company has reduced its core holdings by 35 per cent during that period but has continued to invest £112m in new commitments in 2022.

Mr Kelly sold his remaining 49.9 percent stake in e-commerce platform ESW to long-term shareholder Asendia in March 2021 for a reported €1 billion.

He hired Mr. Barrett to assemble a small team to run a boutique firm and manage his vast personal fortune.

Mr Barrett left Goodbody after leading the company in a €138 million sale to AIB in the summer of 2021. Tommy Kelly’s Castlegate is providing 30 million euros for tech venture funds

Fry Electronics Team

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