Apeiron, a family office with a taste for venture

Christian Angermayer, despite having a $400 million family office, still considers himself an entrepreneur at heart.

He started his first company, Ribopharma, while still in college, but quickly dropped out to build it up. Ribopharma merged with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals in 2003. Soon after, Angermayer sold his shares and became a wealthy man.

“Technically, I am now on the other side and define myself as an investor,” he told Buyouts, an affiliate publication of Venture Capital Journal. “But I feel in my heart like an entrepreneur.”

Through Apeiron Investment Group, Angermayer takes an active approach, finding novel ways to get directly involved in venture investing.

“I think I have certain character traits that are very good for an entrepreneur…but I also realize that I’m not a guy who likes to run business as a CEO and be the operator,” he said. “I’m more like the startup guy who likes to start things and get companies on the right track.”

Apeiron has a “concentrated portfolio,” Angermayer said, with stakes in 10 companies representing about 70 percent of the firm’s NAV, which he said was about $400 million. Apeiron has about 12 people on staff, and takes a very hands-on approach to investments mostly in Germany and Europe. But he wants to branch out.

Recently, Angermayer closed the first fund of Presight Capital, a “pocket” of his family office focused on venture investments. Presight was co-founded with Fabian Hansen, who is based in San Francisco. The fund closed at $80 million, well past its original $50 million target, which includes $20 million of Angermayer’s own money. The fund has no management fees, just a 20-percent carry.

Angermayer originally intended Presight to be completely in-house, but that quickly changed once he began sharing his plans with friends, who immediately expressed interest.

“I went out to my friends and said, ‘This is what I am doing, want to join?’” he said. “The demand among my friends was so big that after two weeks of fundraising we had $80 million and then closed.”

Presight has a diverse list of investors. Family offices include that of Austrian entrepreneur and Deutsche Bank supervisory board member Alexander Schuetz; international entrepreneur and investor Nicole Junkermann; and the Schadeberg Family Office, best known for owning the company that manufactures Krombacher beer.

On the Wall Street side, investors include Mike Novogratz, formerly CIO of Fortress and the founder of crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital; Jim Leitner of Falcon Management; and Moore Strategic Ventures. Fellow entrepreneurs Michael Auerbach and Markus Pertl and Hollywood actress Uma Thurman have also signed on.

“If we perform successfully, which is my assumption, then we want to have the option to build a stand-alone, large VC manager, and to make more and bigger funds,” Angermayer said. “It’s set up so that practically down the road…it can morph into a more individual standalone asset manager.”

So far, Presight’s investments have been mostly in the healthcare field, fitting Angermayer’s background. They include Terran Biosciences, Peptilogics, Enclear Therapies and SmithRX. Presight has also invested in a cannabis company called Left Coast Ventures.

“We have no defined focus. Our strategy is to follow the best funds we believe produce the best returns in their geography, and whatever they do will define our portfolio,” Angermayer said.

But Presight is not all Angermayer is up to in the venture capital space. Apeiron has also dedicated up to $30 million to a fund-of-funds portfolio dedicated to emerging managers, mainly in the U.S. and Asia but also some in Latin America. Investments so far include Fifty Years Fund, Clocktower Technology Ventures and Akaris Global.

“I like it when somebody’s starting something,” Angermayer said. “Just like we want to back great companies, we want to back great managers.”

Action Item: read more about Apeiron at www.apeiron-investments.com.