Owner of a Global Empire, Jorge Paulo Lemann innovates and bets on technology

Owner of a Global Empire, Jorge Paulo Lemann innovates and bets on technology.

The richest man in Brazil – partner of huge companies, such as, AB InBev brewery, Burger King fast food chain and the food company Heinz – Lemann diversifies his portfolio and invests in other business such as the social network Snapchat and the Add Company Movile.


Owner of a fortune estimated in about US$ 30 billion, the businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann, holder of AB InBev, the biggest brewery in the world, the fast food chain Burge King and Heinz, has become known by Brazilian costumers when joined venture Brahma to Antartica, in 1999 creating AmBev. Years earlier, yet on the command of bank Garantia, had been really successful when foresaw great opportunities on the so called “real economy”. By the age of 76, Lemann, ahead of an Empire of super famous brands through the 3G founds, walks ahead to become one important investor in Innovation Company.

There are no limits to the ambition of one of the biggest entrepreneurs of the world. Last May, Lemann has become one of the investors of Snapchat, social network of pictures and videos with over 150 million of daily users, which was estimated on about US$22 billion. His way in on this business was through Innova Capital funds, from which is an investor. The value reported on Snapchat, which raised US$ 1, 8 billion on a round of investments 3 months ago is kept under secrecy.

The way in of traditional Global Investors on technology companies has astonished the market. It has also happened to the American Billionaire Warren Buffet, from Berkshire Hathaway, partner of the Brazilian-Swiss on Heinz and Kraft (which had joint in 2015), who decided last May, to invest about US$ 1 billion in stocks from the gigantic Apple.

There are no indications that Lemann will radically change the profile of his investments. Nevertheless, the most recent steps of the businessman, who currently lives in Switzerland and is famous for jump in with both feet in each business puts his money on, shows that, at the same time that operates a join venture of his gigantic AB InBev, owners of brands Stella Artois and Budweiser, with SABMiller, also diversifies operations in diverse business, such as the newly created bakery chain Benjamin, the food ingredients and cookies, Dauper, and the App company Movile, which holds Ifood and PlayKids; Diletto (manufacture of gourmet popsicles) ; and three other software companies. He is also investor of other funds, like Gera in the educational field.

These investments considered a “point outside the curb”, including Snapchat, had been done by the investment funds Innova Capital, and managed by the strong hands of Veronica Serra, who’s part of the global board from Endeavor, one of the biggest companies which support the entrepreneurism. It is through this activist management fund, which counts with very important investors, like Marcel Telles, parter of the businessman on 3G – that Lemann searches opportunities outside the so called “real economy”and diversifies his business.

An investor with no rush to spend money

As it happens on the direct investments, Innova investments found have been done calmly and after lots of researches about the companies.

None of the investments of Lemann, partner of the fund 3G, holder of an Empire of important global companies, such as AB InBev, Burger King and Heinz, is done overnight. As it happens on big negotiations, the decision to join minor and considered a “point outside the curb” companies is really well planned as report by “o Estado”.

With a style know especially by meritocracy, expenses cut and long term plans, Lemann philosophy (whose partners are Marcel Telles and Beto Sicupira on 3G funds) could be applied in several kinds of businesses, according to official statements.

On Snapchat, the Innova Capital funds, in which Lemann is an investor, evaluated that the company, based in California, has a great growing potential in Brazil. With an activist profile, for the fund it is not enough only making their bets on money bases. Lemman appreciates to influence on the management and take part on decisions making, even though not being the shareholder of the venture.

No wonder, last May, Lemann took a course on Sinularity University, located at Nasa, Silicon Valley, California, to keep up to date on innovation and understand better the logics of this kind of enterprise.

The investment in technology, though, has started years ago. Innova invested at Moville app in 2014, because believed on the potential of this Brazilian application developer, founded in 1998 and currently controlled by the the South-African Naspers, the same one which controls Buscapé (A famous Brazilian search website). On the last few years, Moville has been making acquisitions and nowadays owns important apps, such as Ifood and Playkids, which has been already operating overseas.

From the eight companies which Innova invests, another three operates on the technology business, like Accera, national company specialized in management solution on the supplies chain, which shares a minor share at Visor, of marketing Intelligence, e Trade Force, of sales and trade marketing.

However, the funds also invests on business of the so called “real economy”, of small sized markets, but great expansion potential. That would be the case of Benjamin bakeries, with 12 facilities, Diletto (popsicles manufactures) and Dauper (which produces feed ingredients and cookies).

At Benjamin, Innova started in August, 20015, in partnership with Peninsula managing, company that belongs to Abilio Diniz, former owner of Pão de Açúcar Group (GPA) and shareholder of global Carrefour and BRF. Both mega investors believe that the chain could become one of the biggest in the country, since this is a scattered market.

To understand how this field works, Abilio and Lemann and Innova managers, had done, together, visits to major bakery chains in California. “Now people joke about when the bakery chain will reach 5 thousand units, something that Abilio aims and when will it reach its first US$ 1 billion, a Lemman’s target “has quoted a businessman to “Estado”.

On this successful history, not all investments were successful. One of this cases is the major country railway, ALL (currently Rumo-ALL), in which the businessman of 3G invested when it was yet part of GP Investments. The same logic of management was used, but with not the same results, according to official sources. In the USA, 3G applied at CSX, same field, in 2007, but ended up giving up from the endeavor in 2011, after not being able to buy the company control.

Challenge. When the Innova investment on Snapchat became public, last May, the market became astonished with the daring of Lemann. “The challengeof Lemann is to transpose the meritocracy philosophy and expenses cuts to an innovation company” says Cristiane Correa, journalist, author of “Big Dream” (Sonho Grande), which tell the story of the trio Lemann, Marcel Telles and Beto Sicupira.

To Sergio Lazzarini, professor of Insper, the expenses cut is the most used in mature companies of the “real economy”. “On other hand, the meritocracy applies perfectly to a company such as Snapchat. On these cases, the stimulus to whom brings innovation and new ideas are interests on the own company.

Tradução de Daniela Arcibelli