The Dundee games entrepreneurs behind Minecraft’s global success have launched a multi-million pound investment arm.
Chris van der Kuyl and Paddy Burns are co-founders of 4J Studios, which developed Minecraft for Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo games consoles.
The millions made from Minecraft has led the pair to make investments in around 10 other companies.
Their stake of around 15% in meals firm Parsley Box could be valued in eight figures as it heads for an £80 million stock market listing.
Other investments include television advert measurement firm TVSquared, listed games studio Team17, Dundee-based commercial insurance platform Broker Insights and indie games studio Puny Astronaut.
Not finished investing in talent
Now they have established Chroma Ventures as a means of consolidating their investment portfolio.
Mr van der Kuyl said: “The volume and level of investment we’re doing has crept up on us.
“We first invested in TVSquared eight years ago but more recently we’ve been doing a couple of investments a year.
“We’re not finished. We are actively looking at investments every single day.
“An investment between £500,000 and £5m in a company is our sweet spot. We are prepared to back businesses over several funding rounds.
“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to work with management teams and boards to help them realise the potential for growth.
“We see a great future for the companies we’ve invested in.”
‘We’d be idiots’ to think all investments will be a success
The Dundee businessmen, who almost signed a record deal in their youth, were valued at £150m each in the most recent Sunday Times Rich List – the same amount as singers Adele and Ozzy Osbourne.
In its most recent accounts for the year ending October 31 2019, 4J Studios made a pre-tax profit of £12.4m. Shareholder funds were almost £40m.
Chroma Ventures is entirely privately funded. Its investments will focus on data-led businesses and innovative technology.
Gavin Anderson has joined as an investment director and will be responsible for developing the portfolio. He has previously worked at Maven Capital Partners, Deutsche Bank, EY and KPMG.
Mr van der Kuyl said there were no targets for the annual amount or number of investments.
He added: “This is our money. We’ve got no external pressure in terms of having to invest a certain amount.
“It means that all we are wanting to do is invest in quality businesses.
“On average we’ve invested in two or three a year. I don’t think we are desperate to get to 10 a year but in saying that we’d never turn down a company we think is brilliant.
“We’d be idiots if we think everything is going to work. But we believe that every one could work with a fair wind behind it.”
Investments continue at 4J Studios
The digital entrepreneur was also keen to stress that Chroma Ventures’ activity would not come at the expense of investment in 4J Studios.
He said 4J remains the business he has greatest ambitions for.
“It’s definitely not an either or,” he added. “We are investing hugely in 4J at the moment and we’ve got the biggest ambitions for our own company.
“2020 for many reasons and one obvious one was Minecraft’s biggest year ever. We don’t see any end in sight with our relationship with Minecraft.
“We are holding games jams and thinking of new ideas. In time new things will come. We’ll back our own team at 4J as much as anybody else.”
Mr Burns and Mr van der Kuyl’s commercial property business, Tayforth Properties, which developed the Water’s Edge office development at City Quay, has rebranded as Chroma Developments.