I’ve just finished watching England beat Sweden in the World Cup quarter-final and I’m bashing out this edition of the newsletter before the next game when Russia play Croatia. It’s quite hard to focus given the slightly surreal feeling of knowing that England are in a World Cup semi-final. If you don’t care about these things, this will mean nothing to you. If you do, football’s coming home.
They say winning is a habit, and by all accounts I’ve hit decent form so far this summer. The list of stories I’ve written since the last ITK spans the full gamut of funding news, startup profiles, industry moves and product launches, but I’ve also pulled off a number of original scoops that I’m particularly proud of because of how much work and tenacity they took to get across the line.
Monzo partners with TransferWise
The first was probably the most straightforward after I learned that TransferWise’s next partnership could be with U.K. challenger bank Monzo
. Even though I was 100% sure the two companies were (or at least had been) working together, I couldn’t source exactly when Monzo would launch international payments powered by TransferWise, so I hedged it slightly. Around three weeks later the news became official – thus, confirming my scoop – and I ran an exclusive joint interview
with TransferWise co-founder Kristo Käärmann and Monzo co-founder Tom Blomfield as part of the announcement.
Fred Destin and Harry Stebbings raise a fund
After originally scooping that veteran venture capitalist Fred Destin and podcaster Harry Stebbings were planning to start a VC fund together, it seemed only apt that I broke news that the pair have successfully raised a £40 million fund
. The name of the firm is Stride.VC and amongst its LPs are Delin Capital, the investment vehicle of Russian-born “entrepreneur” Igor Linshits.
Fintech venture capital firm Anthemis loses long-time CEO citing inappropriate behaviour
Given the sensitive nature of events, this was by far the most stressful story I wrote this month, even if it reaffirmed how strong my personal network of sources has become. The story began with a scoop by the FT’s Kadhim Shubber who learned
that Nadeem Shaikh had quit as CEO of fintech VC Anthemis Group. Both Shaikh and Anthemis gave different accounts as to the reasons why, which Shubber had skilfully and invitingly highlighted, meaning that there was almost certainly more to be uncovered.
That day a tipster sent me some crucial information, along with suggestions of who else I may want to talk to. Dozens of calls and multiple sources later – and despite Anthemis declining to go on record – I was able to reveal that Shaikh’s decision to leave Anthemis came after a formal complaint by another staff member at the firm and following a subsequent internal investigation.
According to people with knowledge of events, an “all-hands” meeting was held at Anthemis’ offices in London on Monday, where the Anthemis team was informed of Shaikh’s resignation, although few details were given as to the reasons why. The VC firm’s co-founder and chairman Sean Park is said to have dialed in to inform staff of the news, including reading out a statement attributed to Shaikh.
As conveyed by Park, Shaikh is said to have decided to resign from Anthemis after it was brought to his attention that there was behavior on his part that was not consistent with the values of the VC firm. What that behavior was is unclear. Staff at the all-hands were told that Anthemis couldn’t comment any further for legal reasons.
Proof that journalism is often a relay race rather than a 100 metre sprint, the next day, prompted by my story on TechCrunch (even if credit wasn’t given!), Anna Irrera at Reuters moved the story on even further
. Her report alleged that the Anthemis CEO had resigned following a sexual harassment complaint by a female employee at the firm.
Facebook acquires Bloomsbury AI
Without my reporting, I’m not even sure Facebook would have disclosed its acqui-hire of the team behind Bloomsbury AI, a startup that came out of company builder Entrepreneur First. I had multiple sources and was able to peg the ballpark price and in one potential scenario the actual split between investors and founders.
I later heard from sources that Facebook was quite upset the information had leaked, not least because the many parties involved in the deal had signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which I understand also stipulated that they don’t talk about the existence of the NDA.
Two Atomico scoops
Lastly, I scooped a couple of stories connected to venture capital firm Atomico, which isn’t easy given that Atomico’s resident Aussie spin doctor Bryce Keane runs a pretty tight ship. The first was the firm’s backing of CloudNC
, a startup applying AI to manufacturing. This was followed by news that long time Uber employee and former head of Uber’s food delivery business in Europe, Jambu Palaniappan, has joined Atomico as an Executive-In-Residence