In September 2023, Jefferies hosted its seventh annual Tech Trek, Israel’s largest institutional investor conference. The three-day event connects leading global investors with the Israeli tech ecosystem through a series of panels, presentations, and meetings.
Jefferies CEO Rich Handler sat down with Lance Uggla, co-founder of Markit and current CEO of BeyondNetZero, to glean insights for emerging entrepreneurs. Their discussions covered traits and priorities that lay the groundwork for success, the pros and cons of going public, climate-focused investing, and more.
Lessons from a Seasoned Entrepreneur
In 2003, Uggla founded Markit, a financial information and services company. The company grew to more than 4,000 employees and 21 global offices before merging with Information Handling Services (IHS) to form IHS Markit. The combined entity later joined S&P Global in a deal valued at approximately $44 billion.
In his conversation with Handler, Uggla retraced his evolution from budding entrepreneur to seasoned executive. The most important ability he honed along the way? Focus.
“Focus on two or three things and do them exceptionally well,” Uggla advised. “When you’re thirty, you’re filled with ideas, but it’s where you really focus that you achieve great results.”
Reflecting on the traits he values in modern entrepreneurs, Uggla underscored the importance of great character. “I love to meet an entrepreneur who shows integrity,” he said. “Enthusiasm, personal manners, and grace are a great foundation for success.”
Beyond personal traits, Uggla values entrepreneurs with a clear vision for profitability. A compelling product is key, but a solid financial model differentiates the best founders.
The Double-Edged Sword of IPOs
A decade after its founding, Markit filed for an initial public offering, making its debut in June 2014 at $24 a share.
The move to public markets can be challenging, especially in the current IPO climate. Drawing on his own experience, Uggla offers important advice: find the right partners.
“Choose someone who wants to be with you for the journey, not just the event,” Uggla said. “It’s tempting to choose from the league tables, but you need a partner who really understands you and speaks your language.”
Whether in search of legal counsel or investment bankers, aligning with trustworthy, long-term partners was key to Uggla’s success.
On the experience of being publicly traded, Uggla recognizes the benefits and drawbacks.
“When you go public, you create a currency. You have a real valuation,” Uggla shared. “This opens up a lot of opportunities that aren’t available in private markets.”
He cautioned founders, however, that this advantage brings the challenges of quarterly reporting, increased expenses, and regulatory scrutiny. These obligations can limit your agility, sometimes impeding the pace of business.
Building Ties with Investors, Public and Private
Uggla reiterated the importance of building ties with investors, be it in the private or public domain. He also emphasized the distinctive nature of these relationships.
Private equity investors, Uggla said, feel like partners. They understand your business deeply and participate actively in major decisions. Public investors still expect exceptional results, but they’re less connected to your strategy.
“When you go public, you become a grown up, and the way you communicate has to change,” Uggla advised. “It’s professional investors versus nonprofessional investors. Both deserve respect, but you have to learn how to bridge the gap.”
Uggla’s Journey to Climate Investing
Uggla finished by highlighting his passion for climate investment, which originated with IHS Markit. Uggla had envisioned a specialized division named ‘Beyond Net Zero’ within IHS Markit, which would produce unique energy transition solutions, but the opportunity was shelved during the company’s sale.
The concept evolved into a fund with the same name, in collaboration with General Atlantic.
With new partners, including Lord John Browne, an energy industry veteran, Uggla raised a $3.5 billion fund. Today, BeyondNetZero is at the forefront of growth equity for climate-based investing.
From founding Markit to spearheading innovative climate investment strategies, Lance Uggla’s career is a testament to adaptability, focus, and strong partnerships. His insights offer valuable guidance to young entrepreneurs, underscoring the importance of character, collaboration, and adept communication in building successful ventures.