Hello and welcome to the Week in Tech, your weekly roundup of some of the top technology news stories from across the UK and beyond.
In this week’s instalment, we bring you the latest investment rounds closed by UK founded tech companies, a quick overview of Zuckerberg’s testimony in Congress and analysis on VC funding in the first quarter of 2018.
In investment news, Spectral Edge raised $5.3m; Liverpool-based VTime scored a Series A; Zipjet landed a Series B; Juro received a $2m cash injection; Chargifi secured £5m; eporta nabbed $8m; City Pantry got $4m from investors; TVSquared closed another round; and beautystack received $1m.
Property Partner gets a new CEO
Daniel Gandesha, the founder of well-known PropTech firm Property Partner, has stepped down as the firm’s CEO.
Marshall King, formerly of SEO platform DeepCrawl, will step into the role, the company said.
Gandesha will continue to be a member of Property Partner’s board and will relocate to Ireland with his family at the end of April.
Octopus Ventures invests $7.15m in Silicon Valley co-learning startup
Amber Rudd wants to tackle crime on the dark web
In other news, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced a £9m fund to crack-down on criminality on the dark web, with £5m devoted to local cyber crime units.
The money, pulled from a previously announced £50m pot for the Home Office to improve the UK’s cyber defences, will ‘enhance’ law enforcement’s response to criminals who ‘exploit the anonymity of the dark web’.
Due to this ease of anonymity, the dark web is often a place for trading drugs, guns and child abuse images.
Rudd describes it as a “dark and dangerous place where anonymity emboldens people to break the law in the most horrifying of ways”, but what do experts from the UK tech scene think of her announcement? Sian Bradley has more.
Barcelona-based startup TravelPerk lands $44m to fuel European expansion
Monzo launches overdrafts
UK challenger bank Monzo made headlines again after it announced the launch of its overdraft facility.
The company, co-founded by Tom Blomfield, has made a name for itself by arguing that it is more transparent than its incumbents, and says its overdraft fees will be set at 50p per day. Additionally, the FinTech firm said customers would only ever pay a maximum of £15.50.
Customers will be able to keep an eye on their overdrafts and get real-time updates on the fees incurred from within the app.
Monzo has also set a fee free £20 buffer to allow for delayed transactions in an attempt to protect customers from unwanted fees.
Thread lands $22m to grow its AI-powered styling service
VC funding declined in Q1 2018
Venture capital investment in UK companies slowed down in Q1 2018, following an ‘impressive’ Q4 in 2017, which saw companies raise $2.8bn in total.
According to Venture Pulse Q1 2018, a quarterly report produced by KPMG on global VC trends including (but not limited to) funding in tech companies, the number of deals in the UK continued to drop as investors seemingly focused on making a smaller number of later-stage deals.
The report goes on to note that there was some uncertainty related to the deadline for reaching a transition deal with the EU throughout the quarter. The deal, which was signed in mid-March, outlined a 21-month transition period during which the UK will continue to operate under EU, but will lose its rights to comment on EU rules.
Additionally, the UK will be able to negotiate its own trade agreements. In turn, the UK accepted full free movement rights for EU citizens who arrive in the UK during the transition period – a concession likely welcomed by the UK startup community, which is largely dependent on tech talent from the EU.
Zuck in Congress
Mark Zuckerberg is probably feeling exhausted, albeit a little relieved, after spending two days on Capitol Hill this week.
Facebook’s billionaire founder and CEO testified in congress following the Cambridge Analytica fiasco and sought to placate lawmakers by noting he’d be open to some kind of regulation in a bid to protect the privacy of the over 2 billion people who use his social media platform.
In what was probably a well-rehearsed performance, Zuckerberg continued to highlight that he had learned the lesson and that he accepted full responsibility for what had happened.
All in all, Zuckerberg answered questions about Facebook’s data collection and privacy policies from almost 100 different politicians in what amounted to nearly 10 hours of public testimony.
UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State
Finally, GCHQ has revealed that the UK has conducted “a major offensive cyber campaign” against ISIS.
According to the BBC, the operation diminished the group’s ability to coordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda, said MI5 agent Jeremy Fleming.
It is the first time the UK has systematically degraded an adversary’s online efforts in a military campaign.
That’s all I have time for today … See you next Friday!