Article about Business Björk in The New York Times
23. December 2008
By Claire Cain Miller
Björk — the pixie-faced Icelandic singer famous for her eclectic music, provocative music videos and outlandish fashion sense (even if you don’t know her music, you likely know her swan dress at the 2001 Oscars) — is adding “venture capitalist” to her resume.
Audur Capital, a venture capital firm in Reykjavik, Iceland, has started its second fund, named Björk, with 100 million Icelandic kronur (about $816,330) from Björk and the firm. They are raising more money now, with the goal of closing the fund in March.
The Björk fund will invest in early-stage businesses concentrating on green technology, with the goal of helping spur a recovery of Iceland’s economy, which was devastated by a financial crisis this fall.
“Björk invests in companies that create value through the uniqueness of Iceland’s nature and culture,” according to Audur’s Web site.
“The fund will invest in sustainable businesses that create value through leveraging Iceland’s unique resources, spectacular nature, vibrant culture and green energy,” the site said.
Björk has sung about politics, feminism and environmentalism. She has stirred controversy by dedicating the song “Declare Independence” to the people of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, Kosovo and Tibet.
She has lately used her music — and her money — to address climate change and Iceland’s economic crisis. She released a new song, “Nattura,” on iTunes on the end of October. It is a call to action to the government, businesses and citizens of Iceland to use the country’s natural resources responsibly. She said she will use the song’s proceeds to support green businesses in Iceland, as she is doing with the venture capital fund.
“If the money for the next aluminum smelters would go into supporting these businesses, we would be in a much better position in Iceland in five years’ time, both economically and also just image-wise or dignity-wise,” she said in a video interview with The Associated Press.
“I will not be able to live with my own conscience when my grandchildren drive around Iceland and it’s just full of factories and smelters,” she said.
Audur closed its first fund, Audur I, in March 2008. Unlike the Björk fund, the $42 million fund invests in three- to five-year-old companies that are profitable but in need of additional capital to grow. It concentrates on companies run by women or whose main customers are women.
The firm was founded by Halla Tomasdottir, former managing director of the Iceland Chamber of Commerce, and Kristin Petursdottir, former deputy chief executive of the London investment bank Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander. They wanted to start a business with more than just economic profit as a goal, and say that they offer their portfolio companies not just financial and knowledge capital, but also “emotional capital.”
The newest investor in the firm, Björk, “has become a spokeswoman for innovation, creative thinking and increased diversity in the Icelandic economy,” they said on their site.