Fresh Profile: Smedvig family seeks disruptive tech deals

The Smedvig family may have divested its shipping and exploration businesses, but Smedvig Capital, its investment office, continues to navigate through disruptive technologies to find investments.

Norwegian Peder Smedvig established his shipping company in 1915.

The family also invested in canned foods, especially fish, in the First World War and became the third largest producer of canned foods in Norway. The family then invested in oil and gas, with investments in offshore exploration, onshore bases and supply vessels.

Smedvig family exited the oil and exploration business when SeaDrill acquired Smedvig ASA in a $2.5 billion takeover in 2006.

London-based Smedvig Capital is led by fourth-generation Anna Margaret Smedvig and has more than $1.4 billion under management. Its capital comes principally from the Smedvig family.

The firm invests in technology-disruptive businesses. It leads Series A and B fundraising ventures and invests in growth equity opportunities.

Smedvig is also invested in private equity funds from Bain CapitalL CattertonPacific Equity Partners and Hellman & Friedman, among others.

Smedvig invests in businesses in the U.K. and Nordics, and writes checks from 2 million pounds to 15 million pounds. It invests in three or four deals a year.

Most recently, the firm committed 8 million pounds to Adzuna, the job search engine, and led a 9.5 million pound Series B investment round in app commerce company Poq in 2018.

The firm also makes investments in follow-up funding efforts.

For instance, Smedvig Capital invested in Tusker, a vehicle contract hire company, in 2000. The investment didn’t go smoothly, primarily because the initial thesis was ahead of its time, Robert Toms, managing director, said on the Smedvig blog.

While other investors lobbied for exit, Smedvig injected additional capital in Tusker in 2005/2006 and hit another snag with the financial crisis in 2008, he said.

This time, the team restructured its product and launched the salary-sacrifice-for-cars service. This provided employees who were not entitled to a leased car an opportunity to get a new car for a monthly amount that included all additional costs.

That brought Tusker success. The company achieved 100 million pounds in revenue by the time Smedvig sold it to ECI Partners in 2015, Toms said.

Smedvig’s portfolio includes Infinity, a call intelligence platform; Lovespace, the U.K.’s first storage-by-the-box company; and Xeneta, which provides intelligence benchmarking and rate-data analysis for ocean freight rates.

Other portfolio companies are MediamorphSmartcubeCaptifyAntidoteKings Court TrustQuillVeeveProfile Pensions and MyHomeMove.

Past portfolio companies included Streetcar, the U.K.’s largest car-sharing company, sold to Zipcar in 2010; Ocean Outdoor, an out-of-homes media company sold to Lloyds Development Capital in 2012, and PPC and ITIS.

Most of Smedvig’s top managers, including Anna Margaret Smedvig herself, previously worked at Bain Capital. Senior management includes Alistair CairnsCristian YoungJon LernerJohnny Hewett and Robert Toms.

Action Item: Write to Smedvig at or follow Jon Lerner at @jonlerneruk and Robert Toms at @RobertToms1

For more details on Smedvig Capital, see its website

Search more than 250 profiles in the Family Office Database by clicking here