Steve's ITK

By Steve O'Hear

Steve's In The Know: Thoughts from a European tech insider.

Steve's In The Know: Thoughts from a European tech insider.

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Steve's ITK: Skin in the game

This week is my one year anniversary since quitting journalism to return to the startup side of the table as Zapp's VP of Strategy. It's also been roughly a year since I wrote an edition of this newsletter, mostly because I've been entirely heads down helping…


Steve's ITK: Bye, bye journalism. Hello, Zapp.

Wow, what a week. For those that haven't read the news -- broken by the ever rigorous Isabel Woodford over at Sifted -- I have quit journalism to take on a fresh challenge. I’ve joined Zapp, the on-demand convenience retail startup, as VP of Strategy. As I to…


Steve's ITK: Hardware is hard

In the technology industry, the cliche is that hardware is hard. And while that is undoubtedly true, in many ways, boutique makers have never had it so good. Access to low-cost manufacturing and components, better software for the entire stack, finance via cr…


Steve's ITK: Too close to call

In journalism, they say you're only as good as your last scoop (today's news is tomorrow's fish 'n' chip paper etc.). And if that's the case, I'm holding my own.In the last two weeks, I’ve scooped Monzo's new U.S. CEO, Sequoia's latest European investment, an…


Steve's ITK: Clubhouse arrest

If you're on VC twitter or read various tech sites that cover startups, you won't have been able to escape the Clubhouse sensation. A viral hit amongst the Silicon Valley elite, the new live audio talk platform has finally infiltrated Europe's tech bros and s…


Steve's ITK: Being candid

The big fintech news this week was that Monzo founder (and until quite recently, CEO) Tom Blomfield has departed the challenger bank entirely.Staff were informed on Wednesday that Blomfield, who had taken a period of mostly leave after swapping the CEO role f…


Steve's ITK: A year in scoops (2020)

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Steve's ITK: Smoooth-talking

Over the last twelve months, the head of comms at European venture capital firm Atomico has been quite fond of 'reminding' me that I had previously turned down the opportunity to interview Sebastian Siemiatkowski, the founder of European ‘buy now, play later’…


Steve's ITK: Pro-vaxxer

During the first national lockdown, I remember having a Zoom call with some of the guys from university, including one who works in pharma and three in film and television. The mood on the call was warm and supportive but definitely a tad subdued. All product…


Steve's ITK: Clap for the VCs 👋

Despite VCs penning memos emotionally pressurising founders to “get back to the office” - in a verse straight out of Conservative Party HQ and with the R rate rising and just before test and trace imploded - I'm still shielding in a self imposed lockdown. As …


Steve's ITK: On background only

There was a decent amount of fintech news in the last few weeks, including the launch of Monzo Plus, as the challenger bank scrambles to find new revenue streams amidst the coronavirus crisis.As a I wrote for TechCrunch:Can a bank charge for software? That’s …


Steve's ITK: Provenance

My highlight of the last few weeks was finally purchasing a working tape delay (echo) machine for my home studio (see this explainer). Stuffed with mechanical moving parts and hailing from the 60s and 70s, tape delays can be notoriously unreliable and need re…


Steve's ITK: A year older, none the wiser

Just after going into lockdown - and as the severity of the coronavirus pandemic was starting to hit me - I set an 82 day countdown timer on my LaMetric smart clock. The date's significance was my birthday: if I make it to June 11th, the worst of this will be…


Steve's ITK: Step down to step up

The two biggest fintech stories of the last couple of weeks have both featured Monzo.The first, broken by the FT but since confirmed by my own sources, is that the UK challenger bank is closing in on £70-80 million in top up funding, to help extend its corona…


Steve's ITK: Don't go chasing ambulances

I've lost count of how many days I've been in lockdown. I began to self-isolate a few weeks before most, and I'll be one of the last to come out of lockdown, regardless of whatever strategy the UK government settles on. I have a pre-existing condition that pu…


Steve's ITK: Move fast and break things

I wasn't planning to work yesterday - life has been quite stressful this past week dealing with social care issues - and I had absolutely promised myself a day of not thinking about work. That didn't stop me checking social media, of course, which was just as…


The elephant in the room

I've often been asked over the years why I cover so many funding announcements -- as well as scoop more than a few independently -- and the answer has largely remained the same.First and foremost I enjoy early-stage startups and funding the best since I get t…


Steve's ITK: Happy 2020

Well, that was quite an end to 2019. Can we all agree never to have a UK General Election in December ever again? Not only was the result undesirable - I mean, we weren't exactly spoiled for choice, were we? - but the campaigning itself seemed to reach an all…


Steve's ITK: A musical interlude

"... ten songs of heartbreak and retrospection weave together a lifetime of musical influences in blues and soul, from The Meters to Traffic; from Dr John to Derek and the Dominoes; from Booker T to the Mick Taylor-era Stones."After 3 years of writing, record…


More venture capital sloshing around Europe

It has been such a hectic news month that I thought it would be a waste not to put out an edition of Steve's ITK. It has been a while I know!Cue a few dozen people unsubscribing as they try to work out why they subscribed to this nonsense in the first place.C…