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Steve's ITK: Happy 2020

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Steve's ITK

January 5 · Issue #56 · 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.


Opening thought: Happy New Year
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 time low.
They say that in a democracy you get the government you deserve, but I think that is far too simplistic. Instead, if recent history both sides of the Atlantic has demonstrated anything, you get the government the opposition deserves.
That’s why I’m watching what the Labour Party does next (and to a certain extent, the Democrats) with a keen and hopeful eye. As I have written in this newsletter before, progress is never won, it is only ever fought for.
That means we all have to play our part, including in what direction we want to take our industry and how tech might become a force for genuine progressive change (not just the faux kind often emanating from Silicon Valley) and I’m definitely going to be trying to figure out how I can contribute more.
Things I wrote
Online mortgage broker Trussle loses founding CEO
Shipfix raises $4.5M seed for its dry cargo shipping platform
Curve, the ‘over-the-top’ banking platform, launches ‘Curve Send’ for P2P payments in 25 currencies
Helsinki’s Speechly raises €2M seed for its ‘natural language understanding’ API
Share Now, the Daimler and BMW-owned car sharing service, is exiting North America and three European cities
EF’s Matt Wichrowski is joining Berlin enterprise and ‘deeptech’ seed firm Fly Ventures as partner
Rebank raises $2.8M to build a better banking experience for high-growth companies
Closing thought: Did you get a record player for Xmas?
Otis 'Max' Load and the Thirteen Persons - In Between Floors (vinyl trailer)
If you (or your kids) answered yes, then you are right on trend. According to a recent report, vinyl sales grew by double digits in 2018, moving nearly 10 million units, and in 2019 the trend continued upwards and is on course to overtake CD sales. (Streaming, of course, is on a whole other planet.)
Also, if you answered yes, I need to update you on my own album launch and vinyl crowd-funding campaign (see: ITK #57). We are already just over 40% funded, but still need to reach 100 pre-orders for the vinyl factory to begin production - all within the next 40 days (gulp) - or the idea is bust.
Meanwhile, if you would like to learn more about the project, my co-producer, bass player and long-time friend, Christopher Budd (who also happens to be an excellent freelance music journalist), put some quick-fire questions to me and we published the answers in a fun Medium post (with photos):
CB: A lot of people know you as a technology journalist and they’re going to be surprised to see a different side of you. What skills have you honed in your journalism career that helped you in putting this album together?
SO: I would likely frame it the other way round; being in a band and navigating some aspects of the music business back in the day has fed into my journalism. Because I am one, I think I understand other creative people, including entrepreneurs. I believe almost all the best products are a team effort, where a team gets behind a strong vision. Meanwhile, the process itself is almost always a lot more messy than the end result depicts!
Lastly, I want to thank all the ITK readers who have already backed the crowdfund, including several London VCs (one is known to be a massive fan of old soul) and a number of founders and PRs. Oh, and my editor even ordered a copy, so I must be doing something right!
Bonus: Which founding CEO of a health tech startup pre-ordered 5 copies of the album to give away to friends? Secondary funding rounds clearly have a lot to answer for.
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