Redpoint eventures, a joint effort between Redpoint Ventures and e.ventures of Silicon Valley, has added Romero Rodrigues, one of Brazil’s best-known Internet entrepreneurs, as a full-time general partner.
In 1998, as a university student in São Paulo, Brazil, Mr. Rodrigues co-founded the online price comparison site Buscapé, which the South African conglomerate Naspers acquired in 2009 for US$342m. He will start with Redpoint eventures, which is based in São Paulo, on Jan. 1, he said in an interview Monday.
Mr. Rodrigues will become the firm’s third current managing director and will work beside his compatriots Anderson Thees and Manoel Lemos. The three are close. Mr. Thees was at Naspers from 2006 to 2010, leading the acquisition of Buscapé.
Buscapé remains the most successful exit for a Brazilian Internet company, and stands in contrast to many of younger start-ups that have taken root in recent years and struggled to be acquired or go public.
Young Brazilians treat Mr. Rodrigues and Buscapé’s three other co-founders as celebrities. He has appeared in television commercials and has been an angel investor over the years.
The Redpoint Ventures founding partner Jeff Brody, who first visited Brazil in 2010, said, “I met Romero on my very first trip to Brazil, and I’ve been recruiting him ever since.”
Mr. Rodrigues was already an adviser to the firm and individually invested in its first fund here, which closed in 2012. Yet being chief executive of Naspers Buscapé kept him from taking a larger role, until he stepped down in September.
Many expect Redpoint eventures to have an even more formidable presence among entrepreneurs as competition among early stage venture capital firms intensifies. Monashees Capital of São Paulo has been operating longer and has raised more funds. The founding partners of Kaszek Ventures of Buenos Aires are revered by Latin American entrepreneurs because they helped start MercadoLibre.
The move also underscores the optimism Redpoint eventures sees in Brazil.
Beyond the tough economy, Internet start-ups here have struggled to become profitable even during the boom years. Part of that came about as foreign investors bet too heavily on so-called copycats of American e-commerce start-ups and assuming that enough verticals existed and were large enough for several successful companies to develop.
Mr. Brody acknowledged as much in early 2013, when interest among foreign venture capital firms started to subside and the macroeconomic picture was already worsening.
“Silicon Valley’s expectations were higher than they should have been in terms of the reality of the opportunity down there,” he said at the time.
“One of the things we have learned is that you need to invest steadily through the cycles,” he added.
Redpoint eventures seems to have done that. The 11 investments it has made in new companies this year already exceeds the six it made in all of 2014. It sees good opportunities in payments, financial technology, marketplaces and education as it has broadened its investment thesis.
It is betting on continued digital growth. EMarketer predicts that the number of smartphone users in Brazil will grow to 72.5 million by 2018 from 49.1 million this year.
The difficulties faced by Brazil’s larger companies, which typically are more affected by macroeconomics, could have a silver lining. Most are delaying long-term projects, including research and development, and letting those employees go.
Yet for Mr. Rodrigues, “that results in quality entrepreneurs.”
Redpoint eventures also plans to raise new funds in Brazil. When Mr. Brody was asked Monday if that should be expected, he responded, “Yes, we are in it for the long term.”