Jussi Lystimäki, vice-president of Schibsted, discusses their new CVC with Liwen-Edison Fu, reporter

The timing is right to launch a corporate venturing unit, according to Jussi Lystimäki, vice-president of Norway-listed media firm Schibsted, who was this year made vice-president of ventures at its spinoff, online classifieds company Adevinta, formerly Schibsted Marketplaces.

Lystimäki said: “The timing of a new CVC is excellent – the opportunity is there. It looks like there will be a global slowdown, the hot air from marketplace startup valuations might come down over the next 12 months, automation and machine learning is getting into all verticals in marketplace businesses and enabling even faster change of user experiences, and massive amounts of VC money is available for new disruptors.

“So this is a great opportunity for people like us to be part of this rising wave of next-generation marketplaces, and help them to scale up. Surely the challenge is and will be on right timing and the scale of runways in those startups.

“Who knows when the car subscription services will hit large scales, when the automation in cars will enable mobility services as we believe will happen, or if models like US-based online real estate marketplace provider Opendoor or automated valuation-based real estate investor iBuyers can take the bear market well and change how we buy and sell properties in the long run?”

Adevinta runs generalist, real estate, jobs and other types of digital marketplaces in 16 countries in Europe, Latin America and North Africa. Local brands hosted by Adevinta include France-based classifieds platform operator Leboncoin, Spain-based employment platform operator InfoJobs, Italy-based classifieds platform operator Subito, Hungary-based e-commerce platform operator Jofogás, Mexico-based used cars resale platform operator Segundamano and Brazil-based classifieds platform operator OLX.

Rolv Erik Ryssdal, chief executive of Adevinta, said in February: “We want to make a positive change in the world by helping everyone and everything find a new purpose. We believe every house can be a home, every person has a role to play and every object can live a second life – they only have to find their matching need. Our marketplaces create these matches, supporting local communities and building a sustainable future.”

Localisation is Adevinta’s key philosophy. Ryssdal added: “We want to have a positive impact on people’s lives. We care about gaining and keeping the trust of our users and customers by acting responsibly.”

Adevinta’s corporate venturing arm invests in series A and B rounds for startups in the marketplace industry, focusing on real estate, mobility, jobs, education and reskilling verticals.

Lystimäki, who has more than two decades’ experience in executive and board roles in the internet and digital economy globally, has launched and grown startups in Finland, the UK and Israel since the early 1990s.

Some of his companies – including Novintel, Tera Group, Prisma Consulting, Idean, Sendandsee, Tecc-Is, Mermit, Osaketieto, N-Game and Satama Interactive – were sold to industrial investors while some were listed on the Helsinki or London markets.

Lystimäki said some of the milestones attained so far at Adevinta’s venturing unit were “starting the journey of building reputation, linking with the right ecosystem, founders and locations, and having good visibility to the market”.

He added: “We invest across Europe, but mainly focus on hot spots where we believe next big marketplace disruptors will come from – London, Paris, Berlin, Nordics and Spain.”

Adevinta Ventures has invested in three VC funds as a limited partner – seed-stage marketplace fund Speed-Invest X based in Vienna and Berlin, early-stage fund AtlanticLabs based in Berlin, and seed-stage fund Stride.VC based in London and Paris.

“In addition,” Lystimäki continued, “we have done two direct startup investments as a minority shareholder, and in syndication with other VCs, such as SpeedInvest, Cherry Ventures, AtlanticLabs and Sweden-based Northzone.

“In order to learn about the space and the landscape, plus do proper homework, we did a study on future of marketplaces together with UK-based data-driven fintech platform provider Dealroom, Germany-based VC firm Point Nine Capital and SpeedInvest at the end of last year.

“Our core business is all about online marketplaces, which usually cope well with market slowdowns. Actually, they usually thrive in tough markets.” Lystimäki considered the group’s business strategy to be solid as Adevinta planned to go public on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

Lystimäki concluded with his and his team’s mission and ambition. “As a corporate VC team, I can see a stable trend going forward and clarity to nail our mission in months and years to come. Our success comes through active and close cooperation with the founding teams in whom we have invested.

“We believe it is much more than money contributions. Our ambition is to connect them with our local marketplaces to gain relevant and low-cost traffic advantage to scale up low-cost customer acquisition cost and do remarketing, connect with our local data pipes to teach their algorithms to win over competition, and help to work on their go-to markets for countries we have a strong footprint in, such as Spain, France, Italy and Mexico.”