How to get London Technology Week off to the perfect start?
London based startup developing ground-breaking new AR / VR technology announces 9 figure acquisition by tech mega-company? Check.
World’s biggest (obviously a tech) company announces 2,500 of its U.K based staff to move into state of the art new office block in St. Pancras, complete with its own running track? Check.
New London Co-working hub Tech Space announces a £5 million fundraise to develop 75 bespoke offices for 1,000 employees of fast-growth tech scale-up companies? Check.
As triple whammy’s go, how about that to launch London Tech Week, which runs from Monday to Sunday this week?
228 events in 141 venues over 7 days, with 12 international delegations, 80+ countries represented, 95 new host organisations, 6 themes, 41 ambassadors, 43,000 attendees and a social media reach of 331bn? Check!
Organised jointly by London & Partners, the city’s official promotional partner, the EMEA division of UBM, one of the world’s largest B2B events companies, and founding partners Tech London Advocates and ExCEL London, this is the third London Tech Week, and it could be set to be the biggest and most productive yet.
2016’s event is developed around 5 themes; business, innovation, talent & inclusion, growth, and after hours, and its programme specially colour coded so attendees can quickly tell what’s what. Nifty, original, practical.
There is also a comprehensive international programme, sponsored by Colt Data Centre Servers, and run by UKTI, and a chance for attendees to visit many of London’s renowned co-working spaces, meet the teams, and mingle with the tenants.
Headliner hosts for the week include Ford, Equinix, Stack Overflow, and Ungagged, whilst more than 150 other startups, SMEs, law firms, consultants, international corporates and IT specialists including Amazon, NESTA and Uk China Business Council are listed as partners / sponsors.
By anyone’s standards; CES Las Vegas, DreamForce San Francisco, MWC Barcelona / Shanghai, London Tech Week is emerging as a force to be reckoned with, and yet the independent spirit of LTW, with so many venues, self-organised and self-hosted events covering so many days and such a multitude of industries (any sector that can be disrupted with a sprinkling of game-changing innovatio), makes the week a unique occasion in the global tech calendar.
Who does festivals better than the UK, after all?
Machine Learning Magic Pony Acquired by Twitter To Augment Its Video Streaming Capabilities
It may not be a unicorn, but it’s no longer a “My Little” Pony either. The acquisition, by Twitter, of one of London’s most innovative companies, Magic Pony, which uses machine learning to create algorithms that can first understand, then enhance, visual imagery is a welcome vote of confidence in British boffins as London Tech Week gets into its stride.
Magic Pony raised Europe’s largest seed round, $2m, after launching through startup bootcamp Entrepreneur First, and was also backed by Balderton Capital, and personally by Balderton founder Suranga Chandratillake, as well as another London VC firm, Octopus Ventures.
The company’s acquisition by Twitter is reportedly one of Europe’s largest ever exits for a company that started life as part of an accelerator.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said in a blog post that the Magic Pony team, which includes “11 PhDs with expertise across computer vision, machine learning, and high-performance computing”, would “enhance our strength in live and video and opens up a whole lot of exciting creative possibilities for Twitter”.
“We are continuing to build strength into our deep learning teams with world-class talent to help Twitter be the best place to see what’s happening and why it matters, first”, he added.
Through the launch of apps like Meerkat and Periscope, and video streaming deals signed with the likes of the NBA and NFL, Twitter is threatening to become a serious player in the realm of video streaming, and rival Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube for those seriously lucrative advertising deals.
“We are delighted that an iconic West Coast company has once again recognised that Europe is right at the forefront of the AI revolution”, commented Chandratillake. Founders Rob Bishop and Zehan Wang will no doubt be equally delighted, as well as providing oodles of inspiration for future EF cohorts and London based founders with AI leanings.
Google Moves 2,500 Staff Into New Office As Its Plans To Turn Kings Cross Into Coder Central Take Shape
The first 800 of 2,500 Googlers are set to move into their 371,000 sq. ft, 11 storey headquarters in Kings Cross today.
The building is owned by Axa Real Estate, who bought it from BNP Paribas Real Estate last year and have now leased it to Google for a hefty, undisclosed sum.
Although the building looks unprepossessing from the outside, inside there are £17,000 sofas, winding oak and steel staircases, a 90 metre running track, gym, wrapa-round terrace with high speed internet, and outside, there will be a “walk of fame” honouring You-Tube celebrities with significant followers, one of which is rumoured to be “Pointless” blogger Alfie Dewes. Oh, and all of the canteens and coffee in the building are free for employees. Gotta look after your devs.
The new HQ, designed by architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, will play host to Google Deep Mind as well as developers for YouTube and Android, Google’s mobile operating system, and although only 5 of the building’s 11 storeys have actually been completed, Google are also said to be (finally) pressing ahead with plans to complete another HQ practically next door for £650m, which will be ready by 2017.
The original plans, which would have cost the company £1bn, were shelved after the designs were judged to be too boring, apparently.
Or was it so that the company could say it doesn’t have a presence in the UK, and therefore pay no tax?
2 more London Tech firms, Invoice Cycle and Condeco raise a combined $34m
And just for good measure; a FinTech startup called Invoice Cycle has closed a $4m seed-funding round led by Mueller Mediun Group, who publish Germany’s equivalent of the Yellow Pages, and including backers SeedIL, whom Tech City News describes as “a prominent international Angel group”.
The startup’s platform allows SME businesses to apply for advance payments on outstanding invoices to keep cash flows positive. CEO Gideon Shaw says Invoice Cycle has seen traction with SMBs in adtech, SaaS, and manufacturing while it has also partnered with fintech firms GoCardless and DueDil. The company plans to spend the money on further research and development, and expanding its customer base.
And finally, Tech firm Condeco has raised $30m for expansion into the US, Europe and Asia.
The company provides workplace management technology to the likes of Barclays, Reuters and Unilever; its funding round is being led by Highland Europe, who say; ““In Condeco, we are teaming up with an established, proven business, whose success is matched by their hunger and vision for innovation and further market development.”
They also praise Condeco founder and CEO Paul Statham, of whom they say; “Paul is that rarest of breeds – a seasoned operator, fired up with entrepreneurial passion, who’s on track to create a new gold standard in office and workplace technology.”
London’s approach to matching Silicon Valley and ultimately becoming the number one global hub for technology has been, and still is, at times, accused of being chaotic, fragmented, undone by the failure of over hyped firms, either lacking, or accused of having too many tech “unicorns”, too dependent on financial services or money lending platforms craftily rebranded as “FinTech”, being too expensive, or not being truly serious about its “Tech City” proclamations.
The truth is in there somewhere, but right now seems as good a time as any to back London Tech; its leaders, developers, visionaries, politicians and CEOs, and all those unsung heroes simply getting stuff done.
London will never be short on personality, and never dull; this week, more than any other, there is simply no excuse for not joining the throng and getting involved in something threatening to do exactly what it said it would do!