Guardian chief David Pemsel reveals venture arm investments

Guardian Media Group has invested in a mobile video advertising start-up called Vidsy, as well as a fund led by venture capital figure Saul Klein.

David Pemsel (left): with Brent Hoberman, Saul Klein, Anna Jones and Gerard Keeley
David Pemsel (left): with Brent Hoberman, Saul Klein, Anna Jones and Gerard Keeley

The investments – in addition to talks with the new female start-up incubator AllBright – were revealed by Guardian Media Group chief executive David Pemsel at the Guardian Leadership Breakfast at Advertising Week Europe today.

Introducing the panel event, Pemsel said Guardian Ventures was set up to make investments that benefit the fund, which supports the Guardian’s journalism.

But in addition to its financial objectives Guardian Ventures was designed to invest in companies that could either accelerate, or disrupt, GMG’s long-term business plan.

"One of the paranoias you have as a leader is that you know that there’s this community of fantastic young start-ups and entrepreneurs and I suppose some of us as corporates don’t perhaps know how to get near that culture of risk-taking," Pemsel said.

Pemsel said Guardian Ventures, led by Alan Hudson, has "incubated and accelerated" a start-up called Vidsy, whose co-founder Gerard Keeley appeared on the panel.

Vidsy has a technology platform that helps brands streamline the mobile video advertising process and a network of creators who can produce video ads.

The panel included Lastminute.com founder Brent Hoberman. GMG signed up to his new Founders Factory incubator last year. Pemsel also revealed he had brought Hoberman in to pitch to the Guardian’s board. 

Also on the panel was Anna Jones, the former chief executive of Hearst UK who left the publisher recently to co-found AllBright with entrepreneur Debbie Wosskow.

AllBright will combine being a conduit for capital investment from angel and crowd investors with a support and mentoring network intended to benefit female entrepreneurs.

"Anna and I are in talks [about GMG investing in AllBright]," Pemsel said.