BT invests £30m in tech freelancer firm Distributed

BT invest in Distributed

Telecommunications company BT has announced a £30m investment into UK startup Distributed, which provides businesses with on-demand access to a pool of freelance software developers.

BT signed the £30m deal in exchange for full access to Distributed’s workforce to support its digital transformation goals. BT will use Distributed to rapidly bring together a variety of external tech professionals.

Distributed uses a system dubbed ‘elastic teams’, named after the flexibility of the developer to company relationship.

The British telco unveiled its digital transformation plans last year with the launch of BT Digital. It has committed to an upfront investment of £10m in Distributed for work delivered over two years, but is forecasted to extend the investment to £30m over a three-year period.

As part of the deal, BT will take a minority equity stake in Distributed, while BT Digital will also gain a seat on Distributed’s board of directors.

“Our investment in cutting-edge start-ups like Distributed will help us extend our internal pool of talent, accelerate our transformation and help to make BT – and the UK – a key hub for the digital innovation economy,” said Harmeen Mehta, chief digital and innovation officer at BT Digital.

This is the first investment as part of BT Digital’s “startup amplifier”, an initiative to use strategic investments to grow and scale tech startups.

“Our partnership represents a huge milestone in the use of on-demand talent within enterprise and demonstrates BT’s strategic foresight and commitment to providing the very best outcomes for their customers,” said Cal Adamson, co-founder and CEO of Distributed.

“This partnership will allow BT to engage the very best talent the world has to offer and will supercharge our mission to deliver independent careers with more benefits than permanent employment through Distributed’s Elastic Team platform.”

Founded in 2017, Distributed uses AI to source freelance technology talent. It raised £1.5m in a seed funding round from Fuel Ventures in 2019.

It counts the likes of Mastercard, RBS and REISS among its customers.

Freelance work is increasingly becoming a major part of the British tech industry following the coronavirus pandemic and the Great Resignation, which saw huge numbers of dissatisfied workers pursue new job opportunities.