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Steve's ITK: Too close to call


Steve's ITK

February 21 · Issue #70 · View online

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

Monzo has a new U.S. CEO
Monzo has a new U.S. CEO
Opening thought: 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, and acquisition talks between U.K. startup Fancy and U.S. unicorn goPuff as it begins to plot a path info Europe for its ‘dark convenience store’ and last-mile delivery offering. 
The Monzo story was bread and butter stuff. Once I was sure it was factually correct, I didn’t hesitate to hit publish. However, the Sequoia and goPuff stories took some judgement because they were bordering on too close to call.
As a journalist I’d much rather only get part of the story (or hedge it!) than end up being wrong. In both instances, I managed to confirm from multiple sources that a deal was being done but then the question becomes, has it actually closed? If it hasn’t, as part of my own ethics, I next have to make a judgment as to whether or not publishing a story could derail the deal altogether. 
As a rule, I always try to wait until contracts have been signed and for the money to have hit the bank. However, European tech and startup journalism is more competitive than I have ever known previously, making it risky to wait for any length of time. If I’ve heard a thing, it’s very likely other journalists have too. As I always tell sources: I’m good but I’m not that good. 
What I’m less worried about, however, is upsetting people. Both my parents were school teachers and I used to also teach at a local college. There’s a concept in teaching that you shouldn’t strive to be liked but to be respected. I think that applies to the news business too. This boils down to how you handle the news gathering process, such as giving all parties the right to comment and not blindsiding anyone needlessly. 
More fundamentally, my mission is to help make the tech industry more transparent. For example, it wasn’t clear that Sequoia intended to disclose the funding round in question, and yet word was beginning to spread amongst those in the know. Open secrets are rarely open to everybody and are almost always privileged secrets by a different name. Or, put another way, transparent markets function better.
Besides, well over a decade in this business, and I can’t say I’ve ever seen an acquisition or funding scoop cause any long-lasting anguish. If anything, once the story is officially announced, the company gets a second bounce in the news. ‘No one has ever died when a funding round leaks,’ a seasoned PR recently said, reassuringly. Let’s hope they didn’t jinx it.
'Fintech Unfiltered' live on Clubhouse
Here we go again
Here we go again
Earlier this month, I teamed up with Sifted fintech reporter, Isabel Woodford, to co-host ‘Fintech Unfiltered’ on Clubhouse. We had such a blast and the feedback was great so we’re doing it all over again (see ITK: #69 for my initial thoughts on Clubhouse).
We’ll be joined by other special guests in European fintech and the rough format will be to discuss couple of fintech’s most interesting stories or themes in the past fortnight, including delving deeper into stories Woodford or I have written. If you like inside fintech baseball, you’re in for a real treat.
Tweet of the week
Steve O'Hear
Sources: Monzo has hired a new Diversity & Inclusion director. Kirsten Doherty, previously of professional services company Accenture. Starts next month.

#fintech #monzo
Things I wrote recently
Delivery company goPuff is in talks to acquire the UK’s Fancy
Podimo, the podcast and short-form audio subscription service, picks up €11.2M in new funding
AccountsIQ scores €5.8M for its financial management software for multi-entity SMEs
Tillit, a fintech offering buy now, pay later for B2B purchases, is closing in on investment from Sequoia
Certific, a health tech startup from the founder of TransferWise, aims to be the rails for certified home testing
Dixa acquires Elevio, the ‘knowledge management’ platform helping brands improve customer support
After pausing the business, Fronted finally launches to offer loans to cover rent deposits
Monzo, the British challenger bank nearing 5 million customers, has recruited a new US CEO
Sweden-based digital bank Northmill raises $30M
‘Knowledge hacking’ app Uptime raises $16M
Finch Capital launches third fund to invest in European fintech at Series A and B
Hoxton Farms raises £2.7M seed to produce animal fat without animals
Harry Stebbings is leaving Stride, the VC firm he founded with Fred Destin
Get in touch / send me tips
Have feedback or something to say? Hit reply. I answer every single ITK email (as long as it isn’t a pitch).
Or DM me with tips (sources always protected).
Be kind to each other,
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