Unicorns uk: The latest unicorns of UK: These tech companies joined the coveted club in 2020

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The latest unicorns of UK: These tech companies joined the coveted club in 2020

As the digitisation of almost all services results in numerous business opportunities, millions of startups mushroom every year. However, only a few of these startups come out with flying colours. Eventually, only some of these attain the status of a ‘unicorn’ with a valuation of over £1 billion. It is estimated that the 33,860 scaleup businesses in the UK contribute £1 trillion to the UK economy on an annual basis, which represents half of the overall SME economy. However, the scaleups are witnessed a shortfall in funding of up to £15 billion this year, due to the COVID-19 crisis that has left an impact on investments.

While some businesses have been worst hit by the pandemic, some others have managed to grow and some closed big funding rounds to fuel their ambitions. As we are approaching the end of 2020, UKTN has come up with a list of stellar UK tech companies that have attained the unicorn status this year. Let’s take a look at how they did that!

Picture credits: Cazoo

Cazoo — fastest ever unicorn

Founder/s: Alex Chesterman
Founded year: 2018
Funding: £471.5M

London-based Cazoo, the used car marketplace is one of the leaders in the industry. It is reportedly the fastest ever British unicorn that has attained the status by smashing all records. Going back by a few months, Cazoo raised £240M funding, which took its overall funding to over £450M.

The latest backers of this used car platform include General Catalyst, D1 Capital Partners and funds from Fidelity Management & Research Company and Blackrock. Also, new and existing investors including L Catterton, The Spruce House Partnership, Durable Capital Partners, Novator, Mubadala Capital and DMG Ventures also took part in the funding round. With this funding, Cazoo scored a valuation of £2 billion, this year.

Cazoo makes buying a car quite simple as buying any other product online. Buyers can purchase a used car completely online and get it delivered to their doorsteps in just 72 hours. Also, there’s a 7-day money back guarantee for consumers.

At a time when COVID-19 pandemic crisis still prevails, people are advised to avoid the use of public transportation for their everyday commute. This is where Cazoo’s user car marketplace is disrupting the market segment. The company completed its 10,000th customer delivery just 2 weeks ahead of celebrating its first anniversary since its debut.

Alex Chesterman OBE, Founder & CEO of Cazoo said: “We have an amazing team who are dedicated to reinventing the used car buying experience by providing the best selection, value, quality, and convenience for UK car buyers. Despite the current challenges many businesses are facing, Britain remains a market leader for talent and innovation and a great place to start a business.”

Picture credits: Hopin

Hopin — now a double unicorn

Founder/s: Johnny Boufarhat
Founded year: 2019
Funding: £139.5M

Based out of London, Hopin is a live online events platform that lets attendees learn, connect, and interact with people all over the world. Earlier this month, the virtual event provider bagged $125M (nearly £94.3M) Series B funding in a round led by existing investor IVP. New investors including Tiger Global, Coatu and DFJ Growth also took part in the funding round alongside returning investors Accel, Salesforce Ventures, Seedcamp, and Northzone. With the latest funding round, the overall valuation of the London-based startup escalated to £2B.

Notably, this investment comes a few months after the $40M (nearly £30M) Series A investment it bagged in February. This investment makes Hopin the fastest-ever double unicorn. Now, the company claims to have over 3.5 million users and over 50,000 groups that host events via its software.

It isn’t surprising to see the Zoom rival became a double unicorn in just a year of its launch as the virtual events concept has caught the trend while travel and in-person events were cancelled all over the world.

“Hopin is the fastest-growing company we have seen at this stage and has meaningfully exceeded its plan since our last investment in June,” said Jules Maltz, general partner, IVP. “We have been fortunate to invest in early hyper growth companies like Slack, Snap, and Twitter. Hopin is one of those rare companies with a similar growth trajectory — they have built an extremely customer-centric organization, with an ambitious innovative roadmap that they can scale quickly — a sure recipe for success.

Picture credits: Gymshark

Gymshark — unconventional marketing model

Founder/s: Ben Francis
Founded year: 2012
Funding: £214.7M

Gymshark, a sports clothing company based in Solihull is one of the latest British startups to attain the unicorn status. In August this year, the company that has built a brand via social media influencers ranging from YouTube fitness gurus and Instagram bodybuilders raised $200M (nearly £150M) funding from General Athletic. Eventually, its valuation is over $1B (nearly £0.75B) despite its unconventional marketing model.

It is surprising to see the sports clothing brand get the unicorn badge despite the ongoing pandemic crisis, all thanks to its cutting-edge technology that promotes not only working out but also using the right fitness supplements. Gymshark continues its lean approach that rejects the high-street retail model for an entirely online store. While the old-school model is obsessed with having many products in the store, this company believes in the concept of less is more and has only simple products on its online store.

Especially during the COVID-19, many high-street brands all over the world had to close either temporarily or permanently due to accumulating losses in their revenue. On the contrary. Gymshark’s revenue has increased and continues to grow.

Picture credits: Gousto

Gousto — unicorn after lockdown surge

Founder/s: James Carter, Timo Boldt
Founded year: 2012
Funding: £170M

Gousto, a London-based online meal-kit manufacturer and retailer is another amazing UK-based company to get the unicorn badge in 2020. The recipe box startup backed by Joe Wicks, a body coach secured £25M equity funding from existing investors BGF and Perwyn taking its valuation over $1M (nearly £0. 75B).

Popularly known as the ‘Spotify of food’, Gousto has become a unicorn during the lockdown imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When everyone was stuck at home and millions of people were working from home during the past few months, Gousto has helped them by providing meal kits that are ready to cook or ready eat, thereby saving their valuable time in preparing meals.

Timo Boldt, Founder & CEO of Gousto commented: “Achieving tech unicorn status and joining the ranks of those elite companies that have attained a billion-dollar valuation is a proud moment for the entire Gousto team and all of our shareholders but we are still only just getting started. The market opportunity ahead of us is vast, as changes in consumer behaviour drive permanent change through the entire grocery market.”

Picture credits: Arrival

Arrival — electric vehicle unicorn

Founder/s: Denis Sverdlov
Founded year: 2015
Funding: NA

Arrival is a London-based Tesla rival that develops and manufactures zero-emission, electric public transportation vehicles such as vans and buses. The company recently bagged $660M (nearly £496M) funding. This investment was led by strategic partners Hyundai, Kia, UPS, Winter Capital. Notably, Hyundai and Kia. These partners are looking forward to co-develop zero-emission vehicles along with Arrival.

With this deal, the overall valuation of the company is now $5.4B (nearly £4B). Apart from becoming a unicorn, the company has also claimed that it goes public at the same time. Going by the company’s statement, the Tesla rival is all set to go public in the first quarter of 2021.

Arrival develops software, materials, components, and scalable skateboard platforms and its micro-factories allow them to make vehicles and adapt to any mobility ecosystem. The company’s new method uses low CapEx, rapidly scalable microfactories. These can be placed anywhere in the world in order to serve the regions they are located in.

“With Arrival’s products, our clients are not forced to compromise between being green and being cost-efficient. Our focus on the whole EV ecosystem, new methods of design and production, and our enabling technologies are the key to driving down the cost of EVs and accelerating the transition to zero-emission transportation globally,” said Denis Sverdlov, Founder and CEO of Arrival. “CIIG’s leadership team has invaluable experience in building businesses globally across a wide range of industries. We are excited to partner with them as we begin our journey to being a publicly-listed company and delivering our products to customers and cities around the world.”

Picture credits: Octopus Energy

Octopus Energy — impact unicorn

Founder/s: Greg Jackson
Founded year: 2015
Funding: £270M

British utility supplier Octopus Energy achieved the unicorn status in May and is valued at over £1B. This was possible by closing $360M (nearly £270M) funding from Origin Energy, one of Australia’s leading energy companies, which took a 20% stake in Octopus Energy. Notably, this is the one of the biggest funding rounds in the UK this year. Also, it has signed a deal to license the company’s Kraken technology platform. Kraken will bring in over £300M in licencing fees over three years.

In a recent development, the entech pioneer launched its service in Germany in an attempt to disrupt the market and deliver contract freedom and innovative tariff for users. The business named Octopus Energy Germany targets 1 million customers by 2024 and intends to speed up expansion with an investment of €80M (nearly £71.8M).

Greg Jackson, CEO and Founder, Octopus Energy said: “It was a no brainer to set up Octopus Energy in London, surrounded by like-minded tech innovators and game-changing businesses. We’re using technology to make a big green dent in the universe, and from our base in London, we’ve built a further 5 offices across the UK and also have businesses in Australia, Germany and most recently the USA. We’re passionate about making the UK the global ‘Silicon Valley of Energy’, but we would not have been able to grow so quickly domestically or internationally without the support of London’s highly innovative tech ecosystem.

UK races against the US

Talking about unicorns, almost 48% of the global unicorns are in the US, which is 235 companies including 50% of the global decacorns. Currently, there are 26 decacorns with a valuation of over $10B (nearly £7.5B). Following the US, comes China with the second-highest number of unicorns with 119 (24.3%). Some notably Chinese unicorns include fashion brand SHEIN and ByteDance, which is the world’s only hectocorn valued at over $100B (nearly £75B).

Next comes the UK, which ranks third in terms of the number of unicorns. As per information from Tech Nation, the UK continues to lead Europe in terms of fintech VC investment. In 2020, there has been $2.5B (nearly £1.9B) worth investment in the UK fintech companies so far.

Meet The U.K.’s Next 15 Unicorns

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A near 10-fold increase in technology sector investment over the past decade has seen a dramatic increase in the number of unicorn companies valued at more than $1 billion in the U. K.—and dozens more are now poised to follow in their wake. New data from Dealroom and the Digital Economy Council reveals more than 100 U.K. companies now have a credible chance of securing a $1bn valuation in the near future.

The figures show that between 2010 and the end of 2020, the number of unicorns in the U.K. increased from just eight to 81, as businesses such as Betfair, Admiral Group and Ocado became household names. Over the same period, however, the number of “futurecorns”—those companies with the potential to become unicorns—increased from 10 to 126.

This rapid growth reflects a huge increase in the investment going into the U.K. tech sector. In 2010, venture capital investors put £1.2 billion into the sector, the data from Dealroom shows; last year, the equivalent figure was £11.3 billion.

The result is that the U.K. has accelerated ahead of its European counterparts as a marketplace for large tech companies, and is closing the gap to the U.S. and China. France, for example, went from having no unicorn companies to 17 over the same period, while Germany went from one to 31. Dealroom and the Digital Economy Council estimate that the U.K. is now fourth in the world on the number of technology start-ups and unicorns created, with only California’s Bay Area, New York and Beijing having a better record.

Moreover, the pace of the U.K.’s tech growth appears to be picking up, with a surge already recorded in 2021. Already this year, the number of U.K. unicorn businesses has increased by 10 to 91, while the number of futurecorns is up six to 132.

“The rate of growth in the U.K. tech ecosystem in the last 10 years has been immense and we are confident that there is more to come,” says Stephen Kelly, chair of the industry group Tech Nation. “That the U.K. now has more futurecorns than France and Germany combined which demonstrates the extent to which the U.K. is leading Europe.”

To identify futurecorns, the research conducted by Dealroom and the Digital Economy Council focuses on companies that currently have a value of between $250 million and $1 billion and are therefore on a path to unicorn status. On that basis, the top 15 futurecorns identified in the research are:

1. Zopa – digital bank

2. Moonbug – global kids entertainment company

3. Atom Bank – the U.K.’s first neobank

4. Wejo – global leader in connected car data

5. Vashi – ethically-sourced engagement rings and fine jewellery

6. Gigaclear – rural broadband provider

7. Bloom & Wild – direct to consumer letterbox flowers

8. Truphone – global leader in digital connectivity software

9. Zilch – buy now pay later fintech provider

10. Tripledot Studios – mobile gaming company

11. Gryphon Group Holdings – insurtech revolutionising family insurance

12. Pollinate – fintech giving banks a modern toolkit for small businesses

13. Agriprotein – creates insect-based protein to replace fishmeal

14. Bulb – renewable energy provider

15. Thought Machine – next-generation core banking platforms

The UK’s Top 17 Unicorns (Billion Dollar Startups)

The term unicorn is generally associated with the horned mythical creature; however, it has now become a term to describe a billion dollar tech startup, so named because the company has achieved something extremely difficult and rare.

For once Britain appears to be leading the way in something and has more unicorns than any other country in Europe: 17! You can find out more about Britain’s 17 unicorns below:

1. Shazam

This music recognition app has been around since 2002 but has only recently entered the unicorn club after receiving a $30 million investment from DN Capital at the start of 2015. The Shazam app has proved extremely popular since its launch and has been downloaded over 500 million times, and has achieved over 100 million monthly users (active!)

2. Farfetch

This luxury fashion retailer was launched in 2008 and enables its users to purchase from over 300 independent luxury boutique stores that are located all over the world. It recently joined the unicorn club in March 2015, having received an investment of $86 million in an investment round featuring DST Global, Conde Nast and Vitruvian Partners. Farfetch’s total funding has now reached $195 million.

3. ASOS

Many people will be familiar with ASOS; an online fashion retailer for it has now been around for fifteen years. Founded by Nick Robertson and Quentin Griffiths, ASOS trades on the London Stock Exchange at over $1 billion and has been part of the unicorn club for a number of years. The popular online store stocks approximately 1,000 brands in addition to selling its own brand of clothing and fashion accessories to its huge audience base. 

4. FanDuel

FanDuel was launched in 2009 as a rebranding exercise of Hubdub (a web prediction market). It is an Edinburgh and New York-based fantasy sports league website, which entered the unicorn club in July of this year when it received a $1 billion valuation after raising $275 million from Google Capital, Time Warner and KKR. The site has an extremely large audience base, the majority of who contribute to its 600,000 line entries every week.

5. Funding Circle

Founded five years ago by Samir Desai, James Meekings and Andrew Mullinger, Funding Circle was one of the first alternative lending platforms in the UK and enables individuals to lend to small businesses. The company has raised an incredible $273 million in equity funding from a number of investors, including Ribbit Capital, Union Square Ventures, Accel Partners and Index Ventures, and has since been valued at over $1 billion.

6. Powa Technologies

Founded in 2007 by Dan Wagner, a serial entrepreneur, Powa Technologies is an international e-commerce specialist which provides solutions for mobile device payments, as well as online retail. The company received a lot of publicity in 2014, where it was claimed that it had achieved the largest Series A investment ever received by a UK startup, a sum of $96.7 million. It entered the unicorn club following its valuation in 2014 of $2.7 billion.

7. Wonga

This money lending company was launched in 2007 by Errol Damelin and has since become the top payday lender in the UK. Recent controversies and negative press have led to a complete U-turn on its advertising and marketing strategies but despite the negativity, the company has been valued at over $1. 4 billion and is therefore a clear member of the unicorn club.

8. JUST EAT

A popular takeaway order and delivery company, JUST EAT was launched in 2001 and has now become a UK market leader in the online food ordering industry. The company has a database of over 36,000 restaurants and manages nearly six million users across thirteen countries. Last year the company debuted on the London Stock Exchange and was valued at over $2.44 billion, ensuring that it stormed its way into the unicorn club.

9. Zoopla Property Group

This property platform was launched by Simon Kain and Alex Chesterman (LOVEFiLM co-founder) in 2008. The company offers its millions of users in-depth residential property information and free instant value estimates on UK homes. Last year saw the company receive over 40 million visits a month and achieve revenues exceeding £64 million. The company has certainly made an impact in its industry, having acquired all, bar one (Rightmove), of its direct competitors. In 2014 the company received a valuation on the London Stock Exchange of over $1.56 billion.

10. Markit

Lance Uggla founded Markit in 2003 with the aim of offering a range of financial services to banks and other finance institutions, i.e. providing currency, loan and derivatives data. The company has expanded successfully; acquiring a number of financial services along the way, such as DealHub (a foreign exchange trading service) and now operates in 21 offices across the world. When valued at the NASDAQ Global Select Market, London-based Markit reached over $1.5 billion.

11. PokerStars

Founded in 2001 by Isai Scheinberg and Mark Scheinberg, it has been lauded that the Isle of Man-based PokerStars is the ‘largest online poker cardroom in the world’. The site is extremely well-known amongst celebrity circles, boasting players such as the tennis stars Boris Becker and Rafael Nadal, and also has over 25,000 players each day. In 2014 the company was acquired by its rival, the Amaya Gaming Group for $4. 9 billion.

12. AO.com

Founded in 2000 by John Roberts, Bolton-based AO.com is a retail site that specialises in providing a same day delivery service on all its goods (household appliances). In 2014, AO.com announced its revenue figures of over £384 million, and its valuation of $1 billion on the London Stock Exchange.

13. Rightmove

This property portal was launched in 2000 with the aim of giving home hunters in the UK a one stop shop to find rental properties or properties for sale. The company claims to be the UK’s largest online real estate portal and was first listed on the London Stock Exchange for £425 million in 2006. However, the company is now firmly within the unicorn club with a valuation of over $4.1 billion.

14. Skrill

Daniel Klein and Benjamin Kullerman founded London-based Skrill in 2001 with the aim to provide its users with the ability to send and receive money across the globe. The service is available in 200 countries and in 40 currencies. With over 36 million users, it comes as no surprise that Skrill has joined the unicorn club, something that was actually determined by the reverse takeover by Optimal Payments a month or so ago for $1.1 billion.

15. Blippar

Blippar is one of the youngest unicorns on this list, having been founded in 2011 by Ambarish Mitra, Omar Tayeb and Steve Spencer. Blippar is an image-recognition platform and visual browser, which essentially enables its users to take a picture of anything, and then receive a vast collection of search results related to the photo. This innovative startup recently received a £1.5 million investment from Barclays and joined the unicorn club in March this year following Qualcomm Ventures and Lansdowne Partners’ equity investment of $45 million.

16. Skyscanner

This global search engine was founded by Gareth Williams, Barry Smith and Bonamy Grimes in 2001 and enables its users to search for the best deal regarding flights, hotels and the hiring of vehicles. The company became Scotland’s first $1 billion internet company following Scottish Equity Partners and Sequoia’s (a US investor) investment in 2014.

17. TransferWise

Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann founded TransferWise in 2011 to help reduce the cost of international money transfers. The company does this by eliminating all the hidden fees that are so common with the more traditional services offered on the high street. The company has seen some high profile investments, such as from Seedcamp, Sir Richard Branson and IA Ventures to name but a few. The company entered into the unicorn club in January of this year following a Series C investment of $58 million by Andreessen Horowitz.

New UK unicorn companies 2020: Cazoo, Gousto and Gymshark make the list

Cazoo, Gousto and Gymshark were among the the latest companies to achieve unicorn status in 2020, a year which saw many businesses struggle.

A total of 76 companies achieved the milestone from around the world, with the majority coming from the US, according to recent data from Tipalti.

The figure is much lower than 122 new unicorns that emerged in 2019, and 126 in 2018, as the pandemic stifled the growth of many businesses of all sizes.

There are currently over 500 unicorn companies around the world with a total value of $1.7trn

A unicorn is a private company that has a valuation of more than $1billion. While millions of start-ups are born every year, only a handful make such a success of it, hence the label ‘unicorn’. 

The majority of the world’s unicorns come from a small handful of countries, with the US and China alone accounting for 72 per cent, followed by India at 4.9 per cent, the UK at 4.7 per cent, and Germany at 2.4 per cent. 

There are currently 523 such businesses around the world, and according to CB Insights, they have a cumulative valuation of $1.7trillion.

Last year saw 76 new names join the elite club. Accommodation rental marketplace Airbnb was among the latest entrants, along with online gaming platform Roblox.  

Meanwhile, the National Stock Exchange of India was the highest valued newly formed unicorn of 2020, worth $6.5billion.

The industries that saw the most companies claiming unicorn status last year included fintech at 17 per cent, e-commerce at 14 per cent and internet software and services at 12 per cent.

This only highlights the increase in the use of technology and online services during the pandemic, which saw national lockdowns implemented across the world and people forced to stay at home.

The majority of 2020’s new unicorns came from the US (62 per cent), with 7 per cent from China while the UK saw six new entrants.

Gymshark founder, Ben Francis, is Britain’s richest self-made person under 30

This includes sportswear label Gymshark, food delivery service Gousto, used car marketplace Cazoo, electric vehicle developer Arrival, cybersecurity firm Snyk and events software provider Hopin.  

Gymshark

This sportswear brand gained unicorn status in August 2020.  

It was founded by 28-year-old fitness buff and former pizza delivery driver Ben Francis and a group of friends around ten years ago.

Francis became Britain’s richest self-made person under 30 last year after US private equity giant General Atlantic snapped up a 21 per cent stake in the business. 

The sale values Francis’s stake at more than £650million.

The entrepreneur said: ‘I firmly believe Gymshark has the potential to be to the UK what Nike is to the US and Adidas is to Germany’. 

Gousto

Recipe box delivery service Gousto became a unicorn in November last year after raising £25million in a new funding round. 

The new investment came from existing partners Perwyn and BGF, and pushed the business past the £1billion mark to gain the prestigious status.

It was founded in 2012 and doubled its monthly meal deliveries from 2.5million to five million over lockdown, as many were forced to stay at home and could not get to supermarkets, or access their delivery services.  

The ‘nation’s PE teacher’ Joe Wicks is an investor.

Chief executive and founder, Timo Boldt, said at the time: ‘Achieving tech unicorn status and joining the ranks of those elite companies that have attained a billion dollar valuation is a proud moment for the entire Gousto team and all of our shareholders but we are still only just getting started.

‘The market opportunity ahead of us is vast, as changes in consumer behaviour drive permanent change through the entire grocery market.’

Cazoo: The online car company sponsors football teams Aston Villa and Everton in the Premier League this season

Cazoo

Cazoo launched at the end of 2019, and achieved unicorn status by June 2020, making it the fasted British business ever to reach unicorn status.

It was founded by serial entrepreneur Alex Chesterman and allows customers to purchase a used car entirely online and have it delivered to their door in as little as 72 hours.  

The funding round which helped it bag the acclaimed title last year saw Draper Esprit join existing investors DMG Ventures, General Catalyst among others.

Chesterman said: ‘We have an amazing team who are dedicated to reinventing the used car buying experience by providing the best selection, value, quality, and convenience for UK car buyers. 

‘Despite the current challenges many businesses are facing, Britain remains a market leader for talent and innovation and a great place to start a business.’   

What and where is the world’s biggest unicorn company? 

The world’s most valuable unicorn by some distance – and the world’s only current ‘hectocorn’ – is ByteDance, a Chinese tech firm that’s currently worth an estimated $140billion.

This is followed by fellow Chinese firm Didi Chuxing, valued at $62billion and US company SpaceX, worth $46billion. 

There are currently 26 ‘decacorns’ in the world, (worth over $10million) half of which were formed in the US.

The US is home to highest number of unicorn companies at 235. There are currently 27 unicorn companies in the UK. 

For a full list of the world’s unicorns, where they are from and how much they are worth, click here.  

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Why Britain is the ‘unicorn’ capital of Europe

The U.K. has become the “unicorn” capital of Europe, creating eight new $1 billion companies in 2019, according to research published on Wednesday.

That was twice as many unicorns as Germany and three times as many as France, taking the total number of billion-dollar companies in the country to 77, a report prepared for the U.K. government by business network Tech Nation and database Dealroom showed.

These included digital health disrupter Babylon Health, which achieved unicorn status in August 2019 after raising $550 million in fresh investment, valuing the company at more than $2 billion. $450 million of the investment came from Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund, the ERGO Fund of global reinsurer Munich Re
MUV2,
+0.36%,
and existing Babylon shareholders Swedish investors Kinnevik and Vostok New Ventures. The rest came from an undisclosed U.S. health insurer.

Another unicorn—payments processor Checkout.com—raised $230 million in May 2019 in what was Europe’s largest fintech Series A round ever.

Julia Hawkins, partner at London-based venture capital fund LocalGlobe, said ambitious entrepreneurs no longer have to leave these islands and head to the U.S. to build the company of their dreams.

“The U.K.’s commitment to science, research and deep tech has made huge strides in 2019 and we’re excited about the benefits that are still to come, as we develop global authority in the fields of artificial intelligence and deep tech,” Hawkins added.

Other startups making the list include Trainline, which floated more than 56% of its business on the London Stock Exchange
UK:LSE
in June 2019, valuing the transport ticketing platform at almost £1. 7 billion. The shares, which were priced at 350 pence each, were trading at 467 pence on Wednesday in London.

Britain also beat the U.S. and China in technology investment, with venture capital funding for British startups in 2019 reaching its highest level in history.

Investment in the U.K.’s technology sector soared by 44% to £10.1 billion ($13.2 billion) last year, a £3.1 billion increase on 2018.

Almost half of the U.K. investments—£4.6 billion—came from U.S. and Asian investors. The nation’s technology sector recently overtook the U.S. for foreign investment per capita.

“Asian investors are taking a keen interest in the success of the U.K.’s tech sector and are enthused by our record of building unicorns and leadership in key sectors like AI [artificial intelligence] and clean tech,” said Natalie Black, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Asia Pacific.

Investments in health firm BenevolentAI ($90 million) as well as virtual reality company Melody ($60 million) and mobile robotics company Wayve ($20 million) helped push the investment total across these sectors to £2. 5 billion—up from £2 billion from 2018.

London is home to 60 unicorns after record levels of investment last year : CityAM

London is now home to 60 companies with unicorn status as the capital cements itself as Europe’s hub for tech investment. 

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, six London-based companies secured valuations of over $1bn in 2020:  Octopus Energy, Arrival, Kazoo, infobip, Gousto and Hopin. 

And it’s been a strong start to 2021 with an additional five unicorns created this year already including Starling Bank and insurtech Zego. 

Read more: First Deliveroo backers now have stake worth 431 times original investment

Tech Nation’s annual report published today reveals VC investment into UK tech firms reached $15bn last year, £200m higher than 2019’s record-breaking year.

London remains the UK’s main hub and is now fourth for tech VC investment globally behind San Francisco, Beijing and New York.  

The industry body has identified 10 “superstar scaleups” which between them have secured 20 per cent of total UK tech VC investment at $3.5bn. 

Read more: Inovia Capital expands European presence with $450m fund

One of the pandemic’s few winners online events startup Hopin raised $150m in 2020 and has raised a further $400m Series C round cementing its unicorn status. 

Electric car company Arrival, which is now listed on Nasdaq, and Octopus Energy secured the biggest rounds for UK impact startups last year, at $400m and $577m respectively. 

“I’m immensely proud to lead a government that is so comprehensively committed to supporting the sector. We’re continuing to invest in [their] success, and I hope that the winning combination of UK tech and this government will lead us to yet another record-breaking year in 2021,” the Prime Minister said. 

The government has reiterated its commitment to tech companies over the past year and is looking to encourage the UK’s most promising startups to list in London.  

Read more: Tech hiring surges as firms turn to government’s Kickstart Scheme

Tech IPOs gathered pace in the capital in the last year, with double the capital raised compared to 2018 but more work needs to be done. Eight of the UK’s tech companies went public in London last year, raising £3.1bn in total. 

“We are currently witnessing a generation of scaleup businesses reaching new heights and driving masses of inbound investment along with real momentum for the UK’s public markets,” Russ Shaw CBE, founder of Tech London Advocates said. 

“For years we have worked to cultivate a vibrant collective of tech startups in Britain, now we are seeing the fruits of world-class talent, a progressive regulatory environment and deep pools of capital as they scale.”

Read more: Sadiq Khan to unveil £544m plan to fund London’s Covid recovery

Here be unicorns: These are 27 billion-dollar startups minted in Europe in Q1’2021

The European startup ecosystem has been showing great growth numbers over the past year, which was well documented by ourselves and other organisations that keep track of the numbers. In the first quarter of this year, however, we also noticed a significant number of startups entering the unicorn territory — a metric that may be showing the maturity of the ecosystem.

With that in mind, we dove into our database to capture all the funding deals — as well as IPOs and M&A — that minted new European unicorns in the first three months of 2021. To make things easier, we counted all startups whose valuation surpassed one billion US dollars, euros, or pounds — and found 27 of them!

In terms of unicorns per country, Israel came first with eight entries, featuring a slew of security and cloud startups. The UK and Germany had five new unicorns each, followed by the Netherlands and Sweden with two new billion-dollar startups per country. Austria, Denmark, France, Switzerland, and Turkey each supplied one freshly minted European unicorn to the market. If we were to adopt a more conservative definition of Europe — that is, not counting Israel and Turkey, — we’d be looking at 18 new unicorns.

Industry-wise, the list is a reminder that fintech is a booming industry that’s going through rapid transformation while a lot of money is being poured into companies disrupting it. Cybersecurity, e-commerce, and SaaS just seem to be the evergreen industries that always attract talent and funding, while grocery delivery is notably heating up.

Now, without further ado, here are the 27 unicorns that came into this world in the first quarter of the year 2021, together with their valuations at the time of writing. The list is in alphabetical order.

Aqua Security (Israel), over $1 billion

The cloud security startup based in Tel Aviv landed a $135 million Series E round led by ION Crossover Partners in March. The company has raised a total of $265 million and said that the year 2020 spurred it to carry the latest round earlier than planned “due to Covid-19 accelerating widespread transition to the cloud.”

Axonius (Israel), $1.2 billion

The cyber security company attracted $100 million in May from the US-based growth equity firm Stripes with participation from existing backers. Per Calcalist’s report, “Axonius’ platform can be deployed in minutes, giving customers a reliable and comprehensive picture of their assets and devices, discovering information security gaps, and automatically validating and enforcing the organization’s information security policies.”

BitPanda (Austria), $1.2 billion

The Vienna, Austria-based fintech scale-up, which provides a brokering/exchange platform for trading digital assets such as cryptocurrencies and precious metals, closed a Series B round of $170 million, thus becoming Austria’s first unicorn. Early investor Valar Ventures, co-founded by Peter Thiel and a prolific investor in European fintech companies, led the round. Partner of investment firm DST Global also chipped in, but it’s unclear who else participated in this round.

Desenio (Sweden), over €1 billion

The online wall art retailer went public on Nasdaq First North Growth Market in February and was valued above the initially set market cap of about €1. 07 billion. The startup, which has been profitable since 2015, “offers its customers a unique and curated assortment of over 6,000 designs as well as frames and accessories in 35 countries via 20 local websites.”

DriveNets (Israel), over $1 billion

The telecommunications startup announced a $208 million Series B round in January from D1 Capital Partners, with participation from existing backers Bessemer Venture Partners and Pitango, as well as a new one, Atreides Management. Founded in 2015, the company has built Network Cloud, a software product  for the telecom industry that “turns the physical network into a shared resource supporting multiple services.”

Fastned (Netherlands), €1.1 billion

The Amsterdam-based public company that’s been developing fast charging infrastructure for electric vehicles across Europe since 2012 raised €150 million though an accelerated bookbuild offering in February. At approximately the same time the company sailed past the €1 billion market capitalisation mark.

Getir (Turkey), $2.6 billion

The fast-growing 10-minute grocery delivery startup raised a $300 million Series C round in late March. Founded in Turkey in 2015, the company “launched in London in January 2021 and is set to expand its operations to Germany, France and the Netherlands in the upcoming months,” Getir said in a press release.

Gorillas (Germany), over $1 billion

Berlin-based ultra fast delivery service Gorillas raised $290 million in late March and became Europe’s fastest unicorn to date. The round was led by Coatue Management, DST Global, and Tencent. In just over 10 months, Gorillas has expanded to more than 12 cities including Amsterdam, London, and Munich and counted more than 40 micro fulfilment centres at the time the funding was announced.

Itiviti (Sweden), $2.5 billion

The Stockholm-based company, which focuses on front-office trade order and execution management systems and serves 24 of the 25 top investment banks, was acquired in late March by Broadridge. Per Finextra’s report, “the firm generated recurring revenues of approximately €210 million in calendar year 2020.”

Lendable (UK), over £1 billion

The London-based digital lender founded in 2014 had reportedly surpassed the unicorn valuation following a secondary sale. The company, which hasn’t been talking to the media almost at all, has only raised £4 million in equity funding to date.

Mambu (Germany), €2.1 billion

The Berlin-based fintech startup landed €110 million in funding in January from TCV, which also backed Facebook and Netflix, as well as Tiger Global and Arena Holdings. Mambu sells its software products to banks that want to develop their own digital banking platforms. Among its clients are Santander and ABN Amro, as well as fintech firms N26 and OakNorth.

Melio (Israel), $1.335 billion

The B2B payments startup landed $110 million in funding from Coatue and others in January. Founded in 2018, Melio provides small businesses with a way to digitally manage their supplier payments.

Moonpig (UK), £1.4 billion

The online greeting card retailer was acquired by Photobox back in 2011 for £120 million, but has been operating separately from the mothership since 2019. The company went public in London in February to see its shares soar 25 percent, giving it a valuation north of £1 billion.

Mytheresa (Germany), $3 billion

The online luxury retailer was valued well above the unicorn threshold in its New York IPO in January. The company is based in Munich and has a complicated history: it used to be part of bankrupt US retailer Neiman Marcus, which acquired it in 2014 for $200 million, but had been transferred out of the reach of Neiman’s creditors after the department store chain went under.

Nexthink (Switzerland), $1.1 billion

The Swiss enterprise software firm founded 17 years ago landed a Series D round of $180 million in February. Permira led the round through its Growth Opportunities Fund I, with prior backers such as Highland Europe and Index Ventures participating.

Orca Security (Israel), $1.2 billion

Cybersecurity firm Orca Security closed a $210 million Series C round in March. The round was led by CapitalG, Alphabet‘s independent growth fund, and Redpoint Ventures. Founded in 2019, Orca Security’s “SideScanning” technology reads a customer’s cloud configuration and workloads’ runtime block storage out-of-band to detect potential vulnerabilities, malware, misconfigurations, authentication risks, and a number of additional variables.

OwnBackup (Israel), $1.4 billion

The US-Israeli company that develops an automatic cloud backup platform for Salesforce software raised $167.5 million in late January, becoming the third unicorn minted in the country within a week. The round was co-led by Insight Partners, Salesforce Ventures, and Sapphire Ventures, with participation from existing investors Innovation Endeavors, Vertex Ventures, and Oryzn Capital.

Papaya Global (Israel), over $1 billion

The cloud-based payroll and hiring platform picked up $100 million in early March from Greenoaks Capital Partners, with “significant participation” from IVP and Alkeon Capital. The startup has developed an AI-based platform that “automates a lot of work and removes much of the manual activity that comes out of trying to right-size a lot of legacy payroll products to work in new paradigms.”

Personio (Germany), $1.7 billion

The all-in-one HR platform for SMBs raised a $125 million Series D in January. The round was led by Index Ventures, with participation from Accel, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Northzone, Global Founders Capital, and Picus.

PPRO (UK), over $1 billion

Localised payment provider PPRO raised $180 million in January at a unicorn valuation from Eurazeo Growth, Sprints Capital, Wellington Management, and other investors. The company has created infrastructure that allows marketplaces, payment systems, and other fintech players to accept payments through channels used in any given geography.

Sennder (Germany), over $1 billion

Berlin-based digital freight forwarder Sennder secured $160 million in growth funding in January to “accelerate digitalization of European trucking” and boost its expansion plans. All of its prior investors participated in the round, but it was a group of new investors that led it. To date, the company has raised more than $260 million from Accel, Lakestar, HV Capital, Project A and Scania.

Starling (UK), £1.1 billion

The digital bank raised a Series D round totalling a healthy £272 million, its largest ever. Led by Fidelity Management and Research the round was oversubscribed by £72 million at a £1.1 billion pre-money valuation. The bank had reported its fourth consecutive profitable month, which would put it on track to report its first full year of only black on the books.

Trustpilot (Denmark), £1.08 billion

The consumer reviews giant gained a unicorn valuation after its IPO on the London Stock Exchange in late March. The company had raised £473 million through the listing. Trustpilot’s previous investors include Draper Esprit, Index Ventures, Northzone, and Seed Capital.

Unit4 (Netherlands), over $2 billion

The Dutch “people-centric” ERP firm was acquired in March by private equity firm TA Associates. The exact number of the deal was not provided, with TA Associates commenting, “a transactional values in excess of $2 billion.” Partners Group also participated in the buyout from former majority stakeholder Advent International.

Vestiaire Collective (France), over €1 billion

The Paris-based marketplace for pre-owned luxury fashion products landed €178 million in funding in March. The round was backed by the global French luxury group Kering, and US investment firm Tiger Global Management.

Wiz (Israel), $1.7 billion

Another rapidly growing European startup, Wiz raised $130 million in March, shortly after its previous $100-million round. The company has put together a cloud infrastructure security platform “that finds the most critical risks and infiltration vectors with complete coverage across the full stack of multi-cloud environments.”

Zego (UK), $1.1 billion

London-based insurtech Zego raised $150 million in March to join the unicorn club. The Series-C funding round was led by DST Global and included participation from new investor General Catalyst, as well as all of Zego’s existing investors including TransferWise founder, Taavet Hinrikus, Target Global, Balderton Capital and Latitude. Zego is a commercial motor insurance company that provides opportunities for businesses; everything from self-employed drivers and riders to entire fleets of vehicles.

Image credit: James Lee on Unsplash 

About the Queen’s Beasts coin of Great Britain

The Royal Mint of Great Britain will issue a coin depicting the legendary Unicorn of Scotland in a series of collectible coins dedicated to the ten “Queen’s Beasts” in British heraldry. Mythical creatures – among them griffins, lions, dragons and falcons – have flaunted for hundreds of years in British royal heraldry. They can be seen all over Britain, even in the most surprisingly everyday places, from pubs to passports, city crests and sports. The Royal Mint started the series on heraldic beasts very recently, releasing one beast after another *.

Coin designs by Jody Clarke, Mint Designer. Clark is best known for creating the “fifth portrait” of the Queen for British coins. He drew inspiration for the current coin series from the sculptures of the queen’s beasts by James Woodford that guard the Palm House in Kew Gardens.

These sculptures were originally created for the coronation ceremony of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, held at Westminster Abbey in 1953.They symbolize the various lines of the royal lineage embodied in the young woman who will be crowned queen. The originals of the sculpture are today in the Canadian Museum of History in Quebec, while stone copies, also created by Woodford, are in Kew.

Regarding the new coin, Jody said the following: “Although the unicorn is a mythical creature, it looks like a horse, so I could base my work on real prototypes. The image of the unicorn was often used in heraldry, so I turned to various sculptures and heraldry for inspiration. I was surprised to learn that there are some rules for depicting a unicorn, for example, a unicorn must always have a split hoof. I wanted to add movement to my design and make the unicorn more than just a shield support. I depicted an animal that rises above the shield, and the chain that connects it flutters to the sides, so the design, in general, turned out to be dynamic. ”

The Royal Mint of Great Britain sells the “Unicorn of Scotland” coin in various minting qualities: Diamond Uncirculated, gold and silver proof.

Unicorn of Scotland

In 1603, James VI of Scots also became James I of England, uniting the two thrones for the first time. The new king took for the standard of the Royal Army the Lion of England and the Scottish Unicorn; since then they have consistently been on the standard. The origin of the image of the unicorn as the protector of the Scottish army is unknown, but it has been used in this capacity since the 15th century, minted on gold coins called “unicorns” because of their design, on which the unicorn supports the shield of Scotland.

The unicorn of Scotland is a horse-like creature with a milky white color with golden hooves, a horn and a mane, a crown on its neck and a gold chain. It is believed that the chain pacifies the beast, forcing it to serve the king; it is obvious that, as with most chained animals in heraldry, his strength is emphasized rather than diminished by these chains. The unicorn holds the royal coat of arms of Scotland, which depicts a lion (in an attacking position) against a gold background; this is its unchanged position since the reign of the 13th century King of Scotland Alexander III.

Designer Jody Clarke

Jody Clark is a member of the Royal Mint’s graphic design and engraving team. He is known as the author of the “fifth portrait” of the Queen of Great Britain for coins. Jody has worked on famous projects such as the 2014 Ryder Cup and NATO Summit medals, while his modern interpretation of the iconic British Britannia coin is embodied in the famous 2014 coin.

In our store you can buy these coins:

* Great Britain Bullion Gold Coin – The Lion of England, 2016c., 31.1 g of pure gold (fineness 0.9999) – https://zoloto-md.ru/bullion-coins/zolotaya-investiczionnaya-moneta-velikobritanii-lev-anglii/

Gold bullion coin of Great Britain – Red Dragon, 2017, 31.1 g of pure gold (fineness 0.9999) – https://zoloto-md.ru/bullion-coins/zolotaya-investiczionnaya-moneta-velikobritanii-krasniy-drakon/

Great Britain gold bullion coin – Griffin, 2017, 31.1 g of pure gold (fineness 0.9999) – https: // zoloto-md.ru / bullion-coins / zolotaya-investiczionnaya-moneta-velikobritanii-grifon-eduarda-iii /

90,000 as in the UK in the late 90s the business of the “unicorn” collapsed – Offtop on vc.ru

In the 90s of the last century in the UK, the Ionica company developed the telecommunications sector. She tried to compete with the giant British Telecom and even became a pound “unicorn”. But the rapid rise in business was replaced by an equally rapid decline.It was the weather that was to blame. We tell the details of the story in the Selectel article.

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Ionica? Never heard of

Yes, this is not the most famous company now.It is probably remembered only by the telecom market participants who followed the trends at the beginning of the new millennium.

Ionica is a product of the Cambridge Business Incubator, which was active at the time. With its help, many interesting companies appeared in the world that promoted technological innovations. One of them is the protagonist of our article.

At the end of the 20th century, an interesting situation developed in Britain: British Telecom became a monopoly on the telephone market.Almost any landline telephone lines were laid / changed with her knowledge. This situation was not to everyone’s liking, since the company’s tariffs were almost extortionate.

There were no competitors, all levers were in the hands of the monopolist. But there was a way to get around the monopoly – thanks to wireless communication. It seems like a simple solution now, but at the beginning of the new century, wireless telephony was something of a technological breakthrough. Ionica became his guide.

The company has developed a wireless communication technology, a kind of analogue of modern cellular. In a certain region, a tower was erected, which provided wireless communication to local residents / organizations. Each building was equipped with microwave radio receivers, to which landline telephones were connected.

The idea was great, and the company immediately had a lot of clients.One of the factors that has led to the popularity of Ionica is its inexpensive fares. They were lower than those of British Telecom, due to the lack of the need to deploy wired infrastructure.

The service was launched in several cities in the UK.

Sounds good, what happened next?

As already mentioned, towers were erected near the houses, which communicated with antennas on the houses.And now antennas have become one of the problems. These were very complex technologically and very expensive (as far as can be judged) hi-tech systems. The technology itself is called Wireless local loop (WLL).

This equipment operated in the 3.5 GHz band using custom chips and other elements from Nortel Networks. What is inside can be seen in the photo and in this video.

Now all this can be replaced with a couple of dollar wireless chips with a strap. But then it was a real innovation, and not cheap.

The company began to install its equipment in 1996, and every year it increasingly increased the volume of operations.But, unfortunately, problems appeared almost immediately. The main one is weather conditions. It turned out that in fog, rain, snow, there is almost no connection. The 3.5 GHz spectrum is very sensitive to weather conditions. The company may have tested its towers under ideal conditions, in good weather. In any case, the technology was tested, it is unlikely that someone would spend money on bringing untested systems to the market.

Cloudy with skylights.

Selectel

In 1997, the company went public, its shares soared in price, so that Ionica immediately received a capitalization of 1 billion pounds. Here you can see that a billion pounds in the late 90s is not at all like a billion pounds now. Everything seemed to be going perfectly.

But it just so happened that users began to complain – and not one or two people.Hundreds and thousands of customers were dissatisfied with the service. Someone had to endure communication problems due to the lack of alternatives. Others gave up the service almost immediately. It so happened that some clients from 1996 to 1997 did not receive a normal connection. More or less everything worked only in good weather, which, of course, is not normal.

Typical UK window view.There are sunny days, but not so often

The company suffered losses and could hardly keep afloat.

It all ended in one night

By 1998, the company had accumulated a lot of debts.The total amount was 300 million pounds. By August 1998, Ionica could not find an investor, and, according to management, it took only 45 million pounds to get out of the crisis.

By the end of the year, the value of the company’s shares had decreased four times, so that the capitalization of Ionica was 250 million pounds, with debts of 300 million

Well, then everything got worse. On November 2, the company laid off almost half of its employees. In December 1999, she began to transfer her clients to the service of the same monopolist – British Telecom. The latter also supported the company by keeping the Ionica infrastructure in working order before transferring to its own facilities. On February 28 of the same year, it was all over.

The company began to provide only point services that brought at least some income.By the way, she managed to start work in Canada, where the weather conditions are much better than in the UK. And here the customers were happy, but Ionica had no resources left to expand.

Plus, in the 2000s, ADSL technology began to spread rapidly, which finally buried Ionica’s business.

Could it be otherwise?

Yes, quite likely.If the weather conditions hadn’t interfered with the company, it would most likely have managed to gain a solid base of satisfied customers. Then the company would reduce the cost / simplify the production of equipment, then – switched to new technologies, continuing to support customers. In that case, everything would be fine.

But for this Ionica had to start working in the sunny regions of the USA, Europe, Australia, and not in Britain.There is far from a zero chance that now the name of the company would be as famous as British Telecom, Vodafone, Orange, etc. But it turned out how it happened.

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90,000 Why there are no unicorns in Russia

The analytical portal CB Insights has updated the list of unicorn companies – startups with a market capitalization of $ 1 billion or more.There are 603 companies in the current March list. Analyzing this list allows you to discern the dominant and emerging global trends in technology business sectors.

The list is topped by the Chinese media conglomerate Bytedance, which owns assets such as TikTok, Vigo, Toutiao, TopBuzz and others. With a capitalization of $ 140 billion, it is ahead of the # 2 unicorn – Fintech startup Stripe, which provides online merchants with a payment platform and worth $ 95 billion. 3rd place – astronautics: yes, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is still a startup, its capitalization is $ 74 billion.The first hundred unicorns included startups from the USA, China, Great Britain, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Estonia, Brazil, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Sweden, but in general this is an American-Chinese list: 51 in the first hundred tech startups in the world a company from the USA and 22 from China.

What is important for us – there is not a single Russian start-up among these companies. And this is despite the seemingly created infrastructure for technological entrepreneurship, a lot of accelerators, incubators and other sites for growing such companies, and the impression that, enter almost any cafe, you will certainly meet a startup there.But in similar rankings, people from the 90s once appeared – Yandex and Mail.ru, which today cannot be called startups, and recently joined them Ozon, Tinkoff Bank, and a number of gaming companies. The new names remain local, they do not make it to the IPO, and iconic international investors take part in their rounds less and less. You can talk a lot about the investment climate, and it will be fair, but for the “land of technical geniuses” this is too sluggish an excuse. The real reasons for the absence of unicorns in Russia are associated with the differences of our country from both China and the United States.

Chinese startups rely on the huge potential of the domestic market, represented by 1.5 billion consumers with steadily growing incomes and an equally growing consumption involvement. This pillar allows almost any project to be globalized. Moreover, Beijing really supports innovators. Very specific support. Thus, the Commission for National Development of the PRC approved a plan to create 100 strategic clusters and 1000 strategic ecosystems with “unique advantages”.

The American market is characterized by unlimited financial resources of venture and investment funds, which are capable of accelerating any ideas in a short time. At the same time, almost every American startup initially has a global potential. The majority of Russian startups are still focused primarily on local tasks and cannot dare to overtake the whole world – at least in one, separately taken project.

90,000 How bad weather in the UK killed the telecom business “unicorn” in the late 90s

There are many factors that affect the business of telecommunications companies.These are competitors, the financial configuration of the market, and all kinds of crises. Most of the factors can be predicted, but it also happens that a business collapses due to unforeseen obstacles.

Turns out the weather can be an insurmountable problem. This is exactly what happened with Ionica from the UK. She tried to compete with the monopoly British Telecom and even became a pound-based “unicorn”, which in the 90s of the last century was a real economic miracle. But the rapid rise in business was replaced by an equally rapid decline.

Ionica? Never heard of

Yes, this is not the most famous company now. It is probably remembered only by the telecom market participants who followed the trends at the beginning of the new millennium.

Ionica is a product of the Cambridge Business Incubator, which was active at the time. With its help, many interesting companies appeared in the world that promoted technological innovations. One of them is the protagonist of our article.

At the end of the 20th century, an interesting situation developed in Britain: British Telecom became a monopoly on the telephone market.Almost any landline telephone lines were laid / changed with her knowledge. This situation was not to everyone’s liking, since the company’s tariffs were almost extortionate.

There were no competitors, all levers were in the hands of the monopolist. But there was a way to get around the monopoly – thanks to wireless communication. It seems like a simple solution now, but at the beginning of the new century, wireless telephony was something of a technological breakthrough. Ionica became his guide.

The company has developed wireless technology, a kind of analogue of modern cellular.In a certain region, a tower was erected, which provided wireless communication to local residents / organizations. Each building was equipped with microwave radio receivers, to which landline telephones were connected.

The idea was great and the company immediately had a lot of clients. One of the factors that has led to the popularity of Ionica is its inexpensive fares. They were lower than those of British Telecom, due to the lack of the need to deploy wired infrastructure.

The service was launched in several cities in the UK.

Sounds good, what happened next?

As already mentioned, towers were erected near houses, which exchanged data with antennas on the houses. And now antennas have become one of the problems. These were very complex technologically and very expensive (as far as can be judged) hi-tech systems. The technology itself is called Wireless local loop (WLL).

This equipment operated in the 3.5 GHz band using custom chips and other elements from Nortel Networks.What is inside can be seen in the photo and in this video.
Now all this can be replaced with a couple of dollar wireless chips with a strap. But then it was a real innovation, and not cheap.

The company began to install its equipment in 1996, and every year it increasingly increased the volume of operations. But, unfortunately, problems appeared almost immediately. The main one is weather conditions. It turned out that in fog, rain, snow, there is almost no connection. The 3.5 GHz spectrum is very sensitive to weather conditions.The company may have tested its towers under ideal conditions, in good weather. In any case, the technology was tested, it is unlikely that someone would spend money on bringing untested systems to the market.

In 1997, the company went public, its shares soared in price, so that Ionica immediately received a capitalization of 1 billion pounds. Here you can see that a billion pounds in the late 90s is not at all like a billion pounds now. Everything seemed to be going perfectly.

But it just so happened that users began to complain – and not just one or two people. Hundreds and thousands of customers were dissatisfied with the service. Someone had to endure communication problems due to the lack of alternatives. Others gave up the service almost immediately. It so happened that some clients from 1996 to 1997 did not receive a normal connection. More or less everything worked only in good weather, which, of course, is not normal.

Typical UK window view.There are also sunny days, but not so often

The company suffered losses and barely kept afloat.

It all ended in one night

By 1998, the company had accumulated a lot of debts. The total amount was 300 million pounds. By August 1998, Ionica could not find an investor, and, according to management, it took only 45 million pounds to get out of the crisis.

By the end of the year, the value of the company’s shares had decreased four times, so that the capitalization of Ionica was 250 million pounds, with debts of 300 million.

And then things got even worse. On November 2, the company laid off almost half of its employees. In December 1999, she began to transfer her clients to the service of the same monopolist – British Telecom. The latter also supported the company by keeping the Ionica infrastructure in working order before transferring to its own facilities. On February 28 of the same year, it was all over.

The company began to provide only point services that brought at least some income. By the way, she managed to start work in Canada, where the weather conditions are much better than in the UK.And here the customers were happy, but Ionica had no resources left to expand.

Plus, in the 2000s, ADSL technology began to spread rapidly, which finally buried Ionica’s business.

Could it have been different?

Yes, it is likely. If the weather conditions hadn’t interfered with the company, it would most likely have managed to gain a solid base of satisfied customers. Then the company would reduce the cost / simplify the production of equipment, then – switched to new technologies, continuing to support customers.In that case, everything would be fine.

But for this Ionica had to start working in the sunny regions of the USA, Europe, Australia, and not in Britain. There is far from a zero chance that now the name of the company would be as famous as British Telecom, Vodafone, Orange, etc. But it turned out how it happened.

Russian Film Week in Great Britain and the Golden Unicorn Award announced the dates

The fifth anniversary Russian Film Week (RFW) will be held in the UK from 14 to 21 November 2021.This was announced by the organizers of the event. RFW is a major Russian film show that has been held annually since 2016 in London, Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburgh. Together with him, the ceremony of presenting the international film award “Golden Unicorn” is taking place. Golden Unicorn Awards 2021 is scheduled for November 20, 2021. The call for applications for the award is already open.

The Golden Unicorn is an award for achievements in the field of Russian cinema, presented by a jury of European filmmakers.The award has been presented since 2016. In previous years, the winners of the Golden Unicorn for the best film were tapes VAN GOGI (2019, directed by S. Livnev), LIKE A VINTAGE OF GARLIC DRIVING LYOKH’S PIN INTO A DISABLED HOUSE (2018, directed by Alexander Hunt), LOVE (2017, dir.Andrey Zvyagintsev), STUDENT (2016, dir.Kirill Serebrennikov). In 2020, the award was not awarded due to the pandemic.

An international jury awards awards for Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Rising Talent, Best Debut, Best Animated Film, Best Documentary , “Best Short Film”.In the nominations “The best foreign film with a Russian theme” and “The best documentary about Russia” the prizes are presented by a jury consisting of Russian experts.

Copyright holders of fiction, documentary and animation films, both full-length and short (up to 20 minutes), completed in production no earlier than July 1, 2020, can apply for the award. All films completed after July 1, 2019 and submitted for Golden Unicorn-2020 will also be considered by the members of the nomination committee.

“2021 is the year of hope for the restoration of peace. Including the world of cinema and awards, badly affected by the pandemic, – says Philip Perkon, founder and general producer of Russian Film Week and Golden Unicorn. – A year ago we were unable to celebrate our first anniversary, but we believe that after the ordeal that became 2020, we will return, become stronger and stronger, and show both European experts and British audiences an even stronger program of Russian cinema accumulated over two years.We are confident that 2021 will unveil a lot of interesting films and talent. ”

RFW organizers will focus on the global situation with Covid-19. As of today, according to the assumption of the UK authorities, it will be possible to hold events in November 2021. The RFW, as well as the Golden Unicorn Awards, will be held in strict compliance with government sanitary and epidemiological rules and regulations.

The RFW concept is to draw attention to Russian culture and history, build bridges of friendship and mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries, promote Russian films to the Western market, create a platform for communication between filmmakers from different countries, and establish professional and business ties.The Board of Trustees includes such famous filmmakers as Rafe Fiennes, Brian Cox, Alexey Uchitel, Valery Todorovsky and others.

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03/19/2021 Author: Artur Chachelov

Russian Ntechlab received the status of “mini-unicorn”

Russian developer of solutions based on neural networks and machine learning technologies Ntechlab entered the list of “unicorns” in the field of computer vision.In total, the list of the analytical agency Tracxn includes 19 companies, among which NtechLab became the only Russian one. This was reported to RB.ru by a representative of the startup.


The total investment in NtechLab, according to Tracxn, amounted to more than $ 17 million.

The list was submitted on March 23rd. It included companies selected by a combination of several parameters:

  • Market size of the company,
  • to the amount of financing attracted from large investors,
  • product technological superiority,
  • 90,235 future growth prospects.

The list includes companies from China, USA, Israel, UK, Austria, Canada and New Zealand.

NtechLab has been included in the Minicorns category – fast-growing companies that can reach a capitalization of $ 1 billion or more in the long term.

“We are currently seeing a rapidly increasing demand for computer vision products in the world’s largest metropolitan areas, spurred by the pandemic. We plan to continue growing at an exponential rate, ”said Andrey Telenkov, CEO of NtechLab.

According to him, the company has doubled over the past year, both in terms of annual revenue and the number of employees.

According to Tracxn, computer vision, which includes object recognition in the areas of security, retail and work with applications on smartphones, is one of the most attractive sectors for investment. The total amount of funding in this sector amounted to $ 8.2 billion. More than half of this amount was invested in the last 3 years.

NtechLab is a Russian company developing solutions for recognizing faces, silhouettes and actions on video.According to its own data, the startup’s products are used in the areas of public and corporate security, retail, financial sector, entertainment and hospitality industries. The company is a technology partner of the Rostec state corporation.

Note : Unicorn companies are considered to be those whose capitalization in a short period exceeded $ 1 billion. Analysts at Tracxn divided unicorns into three groups: Unicorns (valued at over $ 1 billion), Sooninicorns (those that have attracted hundreds of millions of investments and may soon exit over $ 1 billion) and Minicorns (fast-growing startups that can reach over $ 1 billion over the long term).

Source: rb.ru

Russian Ntechlab received the status of “mini-unicorn”

Updated at 11:44 25.03. 2021 A note has been added to the news.

The total investment in NtechLab, according to Tracxn’s estimates, amounted to more than $ 17 million.

The list was submitted on March 23rd. It included companies selected by a combination of several parameters:

  • Market size of the company,
  • to the amount of financing attracted from large investors,
  • product technological superiority,
  • 90,235 future growth prospects.

The list includes companies from China, USA, Israel, UK, Austria, Canada and New Zealand.

NtechLab has been included in the Minicorns category – fast-growing companies that can reach a capitalization of $ 1 billion or more in the long term.

“We are currently seeing a rapidly increasing demand for computer vision products in the world’s largest metropolitan areas, spurred by the pandemic. We plan to continue growing at an exponential rate, ”said Andrey Telenkov, CEO of NtechLab.

According to him, the company has doubled over the past year, both in terms of annual revenue and the number of employees.

According to Tracxn, computer vision, which includes object recognition in the areas of security, retail and work with applications on smartphones, is one of the most attractive sectors for investment. The total amount of funding in this sector amounted to $ 8.2 billion. More than half of this amount was invested in the last 3 years.

NtechLab is a Russian company developing solutions for recognizing faces, silhouettes and actions on video.According to its own data, the startup’s products are used in the areas of public and corporate security, retail, financial sector, entertainment and hospitality industries. The company is a technology partner of the Rostec state corporation.

Note: Unicorn companies are considered to be those whose capitalization in a short period exceeded $ 1 billion.Tracxn analysts have divided unicorns into three groups: Unicorns (with an estimate of over $ 1 billion), Sooninicorns (those that have attracted hundreds of millions of investments and may soon exit over $ 1 billion) and Minicorns (fast-growing startups that can reach over $ 1 billion over the long term).

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Photo: Rostec

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