Javier Santiso, currently the Managing Director of global affairs & new ventures at Telefonica, is set to leave the telco giant, according to various sources consulted by Novobrief.
After more than five years at Telefonica, Santiso will become a full time Venture Capitalist with a new growth stage fund that he’s currently fundraising.
We’ve reached out to both Telefonica and Santiso but have yet to hear back.
Santiso, who has never been an entrepreneur himself, started his career at Crédit Agricole Indosuez and Sciences Po Paris, before jumping to BBVA in 2000. It was at the bank where he became one of José Ignacio Goirigolzarri’s (currently the director of Bankia) trusted men. Soon after Goirigolzarri’s departure from the bank, Santiso joined Telefonica as the director, CEO and chairman office Telefonica Latam, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Since then he’s been involved with various initiatives that are currently under the Open Future umbrella, such as Amérigo and Talentum. Amérigo is one of Telefonica’s venture arms, with €300 million in assets under management and a limited partner in Venture Capital firms like Kibo Ventures or Active Venture Partners.
Santiso’s exposure to the investing world doesn’t end here. Over the past few years he’s made at least 10 -low profile- investments at a personal level in startups like Kantox, 24symbols, Olapic or Socialbro, through a small fund called Mapamundi.
While at Telefonica Santiso also launched Start Up Spain, an initiative created in association with ESADE university that brings together local and international entrepreneurs and corporates to discuss the state of innovation and technology in the country.
In other words, he’s very well connected.
Telefonica’s Open Future umbrella
Santiso’s departure is the latest in a series of significant changes that have happened at the digital division of Telefonica over the past few months. The telco launched Open Future SL in January, a new division that groups all of Telefonica’s startup and innovation-related initiatives. Open Future is led by Javier Placer, the nephew of Telefonica’s current president, César Alierta.
Prior to that, the division saw the departure of Wayra’s global CEO Gonzalo Martín Villa (December 2014) and Telefonica’s Digital CEO, Carlos Domingo, now at Dubai-based du. As we’ve previously reported, Mariano Amartino is currently the head of Wayra.
These changes coincided with the closure of various of Wayra’s accelerator programs and were interpreted by many as a win for Alierta in a battle with José María Álvarez Pallete, Telefonica’s COO and someone who is well positioned to replace Alierta when he retires. Santiso, we understand, was also close to Pallete and was even considered as a candidate to run Open Future.
Filling the growth (Series B, C) gap
Santiso’s new Venture Capital fund might help fill a significant gap that exists in the Spanish startup market. While there’s plenty of money in the country at the seed and Series A stage, growth capital is not abundant and only a handful of firms (Nauta Capital, Qualitas Equity Partners, Seaya Ventures) invest at that level.
The main consequence of this is that local startups who reach that stage -and there are not many, yet- need to raise capital from US and European VCs. Which is not bad per se, but increased competition will probably benefit the market as a whole and the Spanish investment landscape.