Tech News: 11th April 2022

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LendInvest has doubled its assets under management to £2bn – at least four times quicker than it took to hit the £1bn mark. The London-listed alternative lender passed £2bn assets under management in January this year. As of March 31, assets under management, which represent deployed capital, stood at £2.14bn, a year-on-year growth of 36 per cent. It said this was fuelled by “strong demand” for its Buy-to-Let offering. Funds under management, which represent committed and deployed capital, stood at £2.94bn as of March 31, an increase of 18 per cent on the year. LendInvest has seen its funds under management rise thanks to a number of high profile deals with banks and asset managers. On Funds Under Management, it said that £800m of headroom supports its growth trajectory in the medium term and that it expected to complete several transactions in the first half of the current financial year. 


Gaming technology company Improbable has raised $150m (£115m) to build a metaverse network and ecosystem that lets organisations create their own virtual worlds and Web3 businesses. Improbable’s metaverse network, M², will provide interoperability between existing blockchains. Founded in 2012, Improbable is a London-headquartered company that partners with game developers, entertainment companies, defence organisations and academia to build digital worlds. The funding follows a corporate round in July 2018 for $50m (£38.3m), led by NetEase, and a Series B round in May 2017 for $502m (£384.9m), led by Softbank Vision Fund. 


Peter Thiel has led a chorus of bitcoin fans slamming ESG as a "hate factory" and the enemy of crypto. "ESG is just a hate factory," the PayPal founder and serial entrepreneur told the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami.  "It's a factory for naming enemies... When you think ESG, you should be thinking Chinese Communist Party." Thiel's anti-ESG sentiment is common here in Miami among the 25,000-strong crowd at the conference. Bitcoin’s negative environmental impact is being distorted, the panelists including Greg Beard, chief executive of Stronghold Digital Mining and a former executive at Apollo Global Management, said. That bitcoin is under attack from traditional finance, governments, and other institutional gatekeepers, who see the booming crypto movement as a threat to their stranglehold on power, is a theme running through many of the panels here in Miami. 


Bank of England’s head of fintech hub Varun Paul is leaving to take on a role at Fireblocks. Having worked in a number of roles at the company since joining in 2008, and just over a year in his latest, Paul is joining the crypto platform in an unspecified position. Used by institutions to quickly and securely move funds, Fireblocks streamlines operations by bringing together exchanges, OTCs, counterparties, hot wallets and custodians in one platform. After more than 13 years at the Bank of England, the head of the bank’s fintech hub Varun Paul is leaving to take on a role at Fireblocks. Paul joins a growing list of senior figures moving from traditional finance to roles at startups and crypto firms. Last month, Revolut’s chief revenue officer Alan Chang left to found his own web3 startup, now revealed to be called Tesseract, and the co-heads of digital assets at Citi Group left to launch their own crypto company, Motus Capital Management. 


French start-up Adwanted Group is the latest European business to move its headquarters to New York. Adwanted Group is not the only French tech firm to relocate its headquarters to the US in recent years. Four French unicorns — Dataiku, Algolia, Kyriba and Aircall — have shifted their headquarters to the US.  The unicorn drain is not just a problem for France. According to Ramon Compaño, programme manager at the joint research centre of the European Commission, many countries across the continent are losing their unicorns to the United States.  In his view, there are two main drivers of the move. The first is that as scaleups become bigger and look for investment, they can’t find it in Europe, something referred to as the later-stage funding gap. So they take capital from American VCs, and in some cases those VC firms ask these businesses to move their headquarters. The second problem is that US venture capital firms often look to exit their investments through a listing in the US and may encourage the relocation of headquarters to the country ahead of such a move.