Chris Barnes is Partner & Chief Operating Officer at Atomico. Based in London, he works across all aspects of Atomico’s operations. He oversees fund management, investor relations, finance, legal and IT. He served on the board of LendInvest until the company’s successful IPO in 2021.
I find that the nature of our business makes the COO position quite unique. We help other companies grow. A big part of my role is to ensure that we grow, too. So what I do becomes almost a litmus test for founders. If we’re doing well, we’re demonstrating that we can help founders do well, too.
I joined Atomico after thirteen years at private equity company Terra Firma.
There, I was CFO and a member of the Investment and Management Committees. I was involved in the structuring, funding and execution of all of the portfolio investments, as well as the management of the firm’s operations.
I worked in the Private Equity Group at Arthur Andersen for 10 years.. I learnt a lot from my time in private equity that is relevant to my role at Atomico, but don’t regret making the switch to venture - working with an ambitious team who helps founders change the world… there’s an inherently exciting energy to that.
I was a talented footballer in my youth.
But I gave up the chance of playing in the top flight to follow my dream of becoming an accountant.
And on that…
I’m a Chartered Accountant and have a Double First in Economics and History from Cambridge University. Although a PhD in Quantum Physics may have been more useful to me now, one of the great things about Atomico is that we encourage diversity of thought and opinion as well as background, and having the boring numbers person at the table can be helpful sometimes to balance the vision and ambition of Niklas and the rest of the team.
No two COO roles are the same.
Because no two CEOs are the same. If you’re a founder/CEO, you may eventually need to look for a COO. While their credentials and background are somewhat important, the real defining quality is chemistry. Is there absolute trust, and relaxed, open lines of communication between the both of you. Also it helps if the COO is a tad shorter.