Tech News: 8 Feb

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SoftBank’s $66bn sale of UK-based chip business Arm to Nvidia has collapsed. Regulators in the US, UK and EU have raised serious concerns about its effects on competition in the global semiconductor industry. A handful of Big Tech companies that rely on Arm’s chip designs, including Qualcomm and Microsoft, had objected to the purchase. The Japanese technology group, which will receive a break-up fee of up to $1.25bn, said it would instead seek an initial public offering of Arm before the end of its next fiscal year in March 2023. The deal’s failure brought an immediate management shake-up at Arm, with chief executive Simon Segars replaced by Rene Haas, head of the company’s intellectual property unit. 

Investment in financial tech firms in the UK grew sevenfold last year to $37.3bn (£27.5bn), according to KPMG, with London attracting more fintech funding than the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) put together. The investment total was boosted by 601 deals that were finalised in the UK in 2021, the financial services firm said, up from 470 the year before. London’s fintech boom was strengthened by the size of many of the deals, which included the $14.8bn Refinitiv deal completed in January 2021. Five out of the 10 largest fintech deals in the EMEA region were completed in the UK. 

Seed-stage venture capital firm SuperSeed is looking for UK business automation startups to back with a fund that’s targeting a £50m close. The London-based VC has so far raised £31m of its Fund II and plans to invest between £500,000 and £1.5m into 30-35 B2B software companies over the next three to four years. Founded in 2018 by entrepreneurs Dan Bowyer and Mads Jensen, SuperSeed works with software startups to take them from Seed round to Series A. Since the launch of its first fund in 2019, SuperSeed has backed 15 companies including, Integrated Finance and ThingTrax. SuperSeed works exclusively with B2B startups and is focused on companies using automation and AI to improve business processes.

London fintech  Selina, which provides flexible capital to consumers on five-year terms against up to 85% of the value of their homes — so-called Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) loans — is announcing $150 million in funding on the heels of making $100 million in loans out to homeowners. The Series B equity portion of $35 million is being led by Lightrock. The remaining $115 million is coming in the form of debt from Goldman Sachs and GGC. Selina plans to use the funding to continue expanding its business in the U.K. before considering how to tackle other markets in Europe. 

SME lender Thincats has announced an extension of its existing funding partnership with Insight Investment, worth an extra £100m. It builds upon the funding relationship between Insight and ThinCats that started back in 2018, when the asset manager signed a £300m funding deal with ThinCats. ThinCats says the extra cash means it currently has £650m available to deploy to support SMEs across the UK. 

Neat, the immersive video conferencing software backed by Zoom and used by the US President, has opened a new office in London, as it hits a $640m (£473m) valuation and embraces hybrid working in the UK. In a recent interview with City A.M, Simen Teigre, chief exec of the Zoom-esque platform, said: “The UK is a huge market for Neat and has always been an important space for video calling”. Neat devices use smart room sensor technology, which enables video callers to monitor air quality, as well as enhanced audio and video tools placed throughout the room. It comes after Neat announced that Zoom made an additional investment in Neat of $30m (£22m) back in September, reflecting the companies’ shared commitment to deliver tech, bringing the total investment by the tech giant to $41m (£30m). 

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Beamy,  the SaaS management platform for large enterprises, has expanded its presence into the UK. It is focused on helping large organisations to tackle the danger of shadow IT and provide a framework for governing the needs of business units to digitise by themselvesLaura Citron, CEO of London & Partners said: “London is a launchpad for international companies looking to expand into the UK and other global markets. With access to world class tech talent, growth capital and new customers, London is also a great place to scale a technology business. We’re delighted to see Beamy expand into London and we look forward to welcoming more European businesses to be part of our city’s thriving tech ecosystem.” 

Bronzed and refreshed from a winter break in sun-soaked Costa Rica, Brent Hoberman hums with energy and ideas few other tech entrepreneurs would dare consider. For instance, if anyone else sought backers to create a "robot cook", they would quite possibly be laughed out of town by investors. But the man nicknamed Mr Tech is deadly serious about the inevitability of a household "bot" to prepare your porridge or fry up a full English. Given his track record, I wouldn't bet against it. When he co-founded the website with Martha Lane Fox some 24 years ago, many doubted whether even an astute businessman seeking to emulate the tech giants of Silicon Valley in California would pull it off. As CEO Hoberman, then in his late 20s, had a bumpy ride but the business was finally sold in 2005 for more than a billion dollars. Hoberman is chairman of the board of Karakuri, which provides robotics, AI and automation systems, just one of 400 startups he has invested in both personally and through multiple vehicles in the Founders Forum Group, which includes Founders Factory and firstminute capital.

Artificial Intelligence in the workplace is at a pivotal point, and businesses need to embrace this new way of working to keep ahead of the competition, according to a new book published by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. In The Autonomous Enterprise, renowned technology industry analyst Sarah Burnett predicts how machines will increasingly do the bulk of routine transactional office-based work. Russ Shaw, CBE, Founder of Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates, added: “AI is the buzzword that businesses claim to have embedded, but in reality, many have struggled to adapt and underpin their companies with true AI capabilities. In this book, Sarah Burnett seamlessly makes the concepts and implementation of AI accessible to all business leaders looking to undertake the digital transformation journeys necessary for their companies to survive and thrive using the true benefits of AI.”