Swedish Startup Space

Former Kinnevik top investor and Blocket CEO team up in Middle East

Written by on September 7, 2015
Editors Note: This post is part of a series called Featured posts, presented by .

The two e-commerce veterans Pierre Siri and Henrik Persson are backed with an equivalent of over $5 million by Swedish investment firm Vostok. This means that two true heavyweights on the Swedish tech scene are joining forces.

Pierre Siri was the one who practically took the classifieds site Blocket from a basement-run company to economical success.

Having sold his first start-up – analysis-company Intelligence – to American Jupiter for approximately $4 million, he got wind of a small but fast-growing classified-advertisement site – Blocket.

Pierre Siri invested 35 percent of the shares and became CEO of Blocket. Aftonbladet bought a majority of Blocket a few years later (Blocket is part of Schibsted today) and Pierre Siri continued as CEO up until 2006, before he became CEO of Hitta.se. Pierre Siri lives in Dubai today.

Henrik Persson started his career as a stock analyst and business journalist but was recruited by investment company Kinnevik where he became responsible after a few years for the establishment of large parts of Kinnevik’s e-commerce portfolio.

Chairman Cristina Stenbeck was the one who from the owner’s part pushed for a strategical change towards e-commerce within the sphere, but Henrik Persson was without doubt one of the most important persons behind the implementation itself.

He was, among other things, active in Kinnevik’s extremely successful investment in Russian Blocket-copy Avito, valued at an estimated $422 to $844 million today.

And so, Henrik Persson and Pierre Siri have joined forces in order to try and build new $100 million companies together. The plan is to make investments in Middle Eastern and North African countries and their digital marketplaces, through investment platform Merro.

Listed company Vostok also joined the project only a few weeks ago. Vostok will, to begin with, invest over 60 million Swedish krona which is an equivalent of $7.5 million.

“We have great belief in Pierre and Henrik as entrepreneurs, furthermore the competition in the region is considerably smaller due to the political instability”, Vostok CEO Per Brillioth says.

Both Pierre Siri nor Henrik Persson has declined to comment on this article.

”I don’t have much to say. Per (Brilioth) is the audience and knows this well enough why he will handle the talk”, Henrik Persson writes in an email.

The two entrepreneurs have an additional partner at their side – Michael Lahyani, CEO and founder of the largest portal for real estate listings in Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Merro have so far made three investments, all of them in classified-advertisement companies with focus on the MENA-region. Per Brilioth, however, doesn’t want to tell which companies are in question. A speculation might be that Merro have done something in cooperation with another big player in the region, namely Saltside.

Kinnevik and an additional handful of investors have previously invested several tens of million dollars in Saltside, who have their headquarters in Dubai and are running Blocket-like sites in Sri Lanka, Ghana and Bangladesh. Henrik Persson was the person from Kinnevik’s end who participated in building Saltside’s operations.

“We can talk more about the investments Merro has made a bit further down the road, but I can’t say anything specific right now”, Per Brilioth says.

  • KallePa1

    Wow, that’s poor english. Makes absolutely no sense.

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