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Steve's ITK: A summer party special


Steve's ITK

July 8 · Issue #44 · View online
Steve's In The Know: Everything I published recently, commentary you won't find elsewhere, write-ups of events I attended or spoke at, and industry rumours.

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Me, Starling's Megan Caywood, Revolut's Chad West, and City A.M.'s Emily Nicolle
Me, Starling's Megan Caywood, Revolut's Chad West, and City A.M.'s Emily Nicolle
Opening thought: Winning feeling
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
Next up, I reported that Facebook has acquired U.K. startup Bloomsbury AIThis one undoubtedly caused a lot of trouble, despite my delicate handling and protection of sources. However, I think it was an important and legitimate news story in the context of how large tech is hoovering up a lot of the talent in artificial intelligence.
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.
Aside from the more than 30 stories that I wrote since the previous edition of ‘Steve’s ITK’ (6 of which were scoops!), I attended The Europas, and later this month you’ll find me hosting the Startup Grind Summer party!
Things I wrote
One of Facebook’s most senior engineers just became Director of Engineering, Blockchain
Former head of UberEats in Europe has joined VC Atomico as Executive-In-Residence
Entrepreneur First, the company builder backed by Greylock, expands to Paris
Draper Esprit invests in and partners with German VC Earlybird
Oden Technologies raises $10M to bring data analytics to manufacturing
Facebook is buying UK’s Bloomsbury AI to ramp up natural language tech in London
Kasaz wants to make it less painful to buy or sell a home in Spain
Highland Europe closes new €463M fund to invest in growth-stage tech
Questions remain after the CEO of fintech VC Anthemis resigns
TourRadar, the OTA for tour holidays, scores $50M Series C led by Silicon Valley’s TCV
Fintech friends: Monzo partners with TransferWise for international payments
Labstep wants to fix the way science experiments are recorded and reproduced
Italian grocery delivery service Supermercato24 picks up €13M Series B
Penta, the bank account for SMEs, adds multi-card support to manage expenses
Talentry scores €6M for its ‘social recruitment and marketing’ platform
Veriff raises $7.7M Series A to become the ‘Stripe for identity’
Plum, the fintech chatbot that helps you save, adds theme-based investing
Email security startup Tessian raises $13M led by Balderton and Accel
Farmdrop picks up £10M Series B
Metaboards raises $5M for ‘metamaterials’-based wireless charging tech
White Star Capital raises new $180M fund to help startups go international
TransferWise partners with France’s second largest bank BPCE Groupe
ING backs FinCompare, the German comparison platform for SME financing
Stride.VC, a new seed fund founded by Fred Destin and Harry Stebbings, sees first £40M closing
Motorway raises £2.75M seed funding to help you sell your car – TechCrunch
TransferWise’s next partnership could be with U.K. challenger bank Monzo
Marley Spoon, the cook-at-home meal kit service, announces IPO
Switchee raises £1.3M for its smart thermostat for social housing landlords
Marshmallow picks up $1.2M seed to provide car insurance to immigrants and expats
CloudNC scores £9M Series A led by Atomico to bring AI to manufacturing
MoloFinance scores £3.7M seed funding to offer a fully digital mortgage
Laka raises $1.5M seed to take its ‘crowd insurance’ model beyond bicycles
Closing thought: The Europas was fun!
Me and The Guardian's Alex Hern (Photo credit: The Europas)
Me and The Guardian's Alex Hern (Photo credit: The Europas)
As per usual I had a great time at The Europas, the half day ‘un-conference’ and evening awards ceremony. I appeared on the infamous 'Meet the press’ panel, alongside journalists from City A.M., Bloomberg and The Guardian. Moderated by TechCrunch’s Mike Butcher, the panel was mostly driven by questions from the audience who asked about the nuances of when and how to approach or pitch a journalist, and other idiosyncrasies of the news business.
The brutally honest takeaway: there isn’t always a right or wrong way, every journalist is different! In other words, Public Relations is a relationships business. Whodathought.
Join me at the Startup Grind London Summer Party!
There are still tickets for Startup Grind London’s Summer Party on Thursday 19th of July, where I’ll be hosting a fireside chat and panel to talk the future of property technology! The lineup already promises to be a doozy.
There will be nibbles, drinks, cool music and great people to meet. In addition, we’ll talk to successful property tech founders: Matt Robinson of Nested (who also founded GoCardless), George Spencer of Rentify and Gemma Young of Settled, moderated by Steve O'Hear of TechCrunch. 
So, what are you waiting for? Grab yourself a ticket or two here. And if you do make it, find me and say hello, and mention that you are a ‘Steve’s ITK reader’. It’s a pretty exclusive club, don’t you know 😎
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Till next time,
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