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The Week in Tech: Revolut’s $250m, Oracle buys Grapeshot and more

Hello and welcome to The Week in Tech – your weekly roundup of some of the top technology news from the UK and beyond.

This week, we bring you the latest on Revolut’s mass investment from DST, the UK’s government investment in AI and all the important VC deals.

Investments

It’s been a relatively busy week in terms of funding into UK tech companies. Here are some of the deals you need to be aware of:

Other investments

Travel inspiration website CultureTrip raised $80m in order to hire more tech talent. The Series B fund was led by PPF Group, and will also be used to launch their online travel booking division, redesign its platform and expand its workforce. The likes of previous Facebook employee Mike Fox has been appointed as CMO, and Dick Soule, who was the first head of global sales at YouTube, will focus on how the company makes money.

Elsewhere, Octopus Ventures led a $37m Series C round for RetailTech platform Amplience. The company built a SaaS platform which can be used by brands to make online shopping a better experience. This money will help Amplience to develop the platform as well as put more focus into marketing efforts.

Revolut gains unicorn status

Digital challenger bank Revolut finally confirmed rumors of impending funding with a mammoth $250m round.

The Series C fund was led by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner’s DST Global, and boosted Revolut’s valuation to $1.7bn – gaining it access to the tech unicorn club.

Silicon Valley investors Index Ventures and Ribbit Capital also contributed to the raise, which will be used to help Revolut expand into the US, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia in 2018.

This round brings the company’s total raise to around $340m. If you want to know more about Revolut, read our profile of the company

£300m for AI

Also this week, the UK government pledged £300m of fresh funding into AI technology.

The fund is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy and its AI Grand Challenge. It hopes the money will help position the UK as a leader in the tech, which is pegged to be worth £232bn to the economy by 2030.

According to a press release, the pledge was announced by Greg Clark and digital secretary Matt Hancock, as part of a £1bn deal.  

Matt Hancock said artificial intelligence is at the centre of plans to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business. “We have a great track record and are home to some of the world’s biggest names in AI like Deepmind, Swiftkey and Babylon, but there is so much more we can do,” he said in a statement. 

Funding in the UK tech sector reached ‘record levels’ last year, which saw key deals in AI such as Japanese venture capital firm Global Brain opening its first European HQ in the UK and investing £35m in UK deep-tech startups, and The University of Cambridge opening a new £10m AI supercomputer and making its infrastructure available to businesses.

EU funding dries up

In less promising news, The Telegraph revealed that funding from the European Investment Fund (EIF) into UK tech companies had decreased.

The EIF, also known as The European Union’s (EU) investment arm, has not confirmed that it halted investment into the UK. Still, technology investors are saying the funding stopped following the triggering of Article 50 – a political state that’s becoming quite the buzzword in tech. 

The figures show that the EIF poured €61m (£53m) into UK-focused funds last year, representing a 91% decrease on the year before.

At the same time, funding for European companies has remained stable at €9.3bn.

 

Oracle buys Grapeshot

In acquisition news, Oracle bought AdTech firm Grapeshot.

Whilst the terms of the deal were undisclosed, TechCrunch claim the figure could have been up to $400m.

Grapeshot founders developed an algorithm which analyses keywords on the internet to ensure ‘brand safety’ when it comes to ad placement.

The algorithm matches ad’s to websites based on context as well as keywords, to try and avoid awkward placement such as an ad for automobiles appearing next to a piece about a fatal car crash. It is used by the likes of Vice and The Economist.

Now that it’s part of Oracle, it will be used for data analytics, primarily.

If you want to know more about the company, read our round-up, here.

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