Currently ranked: 21
Previously ranked: 17
France’s AXA Strategic Ventures looks prescient for having started a fund in early 2015 that invests in fintech for the insurance industry.
Now insurers are scrambling to work with venture capitalists on modernizing the sector’s technology, known as “insuretech,” amid concern that an unexpected rival could crush them with digital innovation. “A common fear is that new market entrants will do to insurance what Uber has done to ride hailing,” or Amazon.com to retail or robo-advisers to wealth management, consulting firm EY said in a report last year.
AXA Strategic Ventures, led by managing partner François Robinet, has $275 million of backing from French insurer and asset manager AXA. The venture capital firm invests in fintech, enterprise software, and digital health care technologies for the insurance and asset management industries, according to its website. AXA Strategic Ventures also manages a €150 million ($174 million) fund-of-funds business, diversifying its holdings beyond deals done by its teams in Paris, London, New York, and San Francisco.
The firm’s portfolio includes Canada’s Blockstream, a developer of sidechains that allow digital assets to move between blockchains; Italy’s Floome, which offers a smartphone app that measures blood alcohol levels; and U.S.-based One, a software provider that helps insurers interact with their customers.
In September, AXA Strategic Ventures announced that it had joined Idinvest, Kima Ventures, and Allianz’s InnovAllianz fund in providing €6 million of financing for French start-up Tanker, which offers data encryption as a cloud-hosted service.
“End-to-end encryption is a must for industries for which privacy of customer data is critical,” says Robinet.
AXA Strategic Ventures also has some glitz.
In July the firm joined Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio and singer Elton John as a backer of Qloo, a New York–based company that uses machine learning for insight into consumer behavior in the media and entertainment industry.