Steve’s ITK: When a plan comes together

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Business Insider’s UK Tech 100 party at The Gherkin (Photo credit: Business Insider)

Opening thought: I love it when a plan comes together

I’m writing this week’s ITK on a late Saturday afternoon and I’m absolutely shattered. It’s been an especially long week, but one, it’s fair to say, that has seen a couple of decent wins.

On the news reporting front, I managed two decent scoops. The first was news that British wunderkind Nick D’Aloisio, who famously sold his startup Summly to Yahoo aged 17 for a reported $30 million, has raised investment for a new app that promises to help you find and instantly chat to experts on a range of topics.

From sources, and by combining info from Companies House, I understand that Sphere Knowledge, as the new ventured is called, has raised $11.8 million in seed and Series A funding. Investors include LocalGlobe and Index Ventures, which isn’t bad going for a startup that remains in stealth mode and hasn’t publicly launched yet.

I actually got tipped off that D’Aloisio had raised investment for something new in the summer but it took me over two and a half months to reel this one in (this was a story D’Aloisio and his longtime PR handler definitely didn’t want written). During that time I was able to second source some of the info and wait patiently for a regulatory filing to confirm the amount raised, all the while paranoid that someone would beat me to the story.

Best of all I published the resulting piece an hour before Business Insider unveiled its UK Tech 100 list, which, let’s just say — and given I wasn’t sure if I was on the list this year — was no coincidence!

The second scoop this week came together in a matter of hours, even if I was first tipped off a few weeks ago: Secret Escapes, the members-only travel club, has raised Series D funding. Again, my info was a combination of original sourcing and a regulatory filing, but I only got part of the story. I reported that the round would be £52 million, including correctly identifying the lead investor, when in actual fact there is also additional debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank, bringing the total to £83 million when debt is included.

Things I wrote

Digital wealth manager Moneyfarm acquires tech behind fintech chatbot Ernest

techcrunch.com

Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, though I understand that, along with the tech, this is an acqui-hire of sorts, seeing London-based Ernest’s CTO Lorenzo Sicilia join Moneyfarm to oversee technology integration.

Secret Escapes, the members-only travel club, closing in on £50M Series D

techcrunch.com

According to sources, the London-headquartered company has raised a £50 million plus funding round.

Nick D’Aloisio, who sold startup to Yahoo aged 17, has raised funding for a new app

techcrunch.com

Nick D’Aloisio, who previously founded news summary app Summly, which he famously sold to Yahoo aged 17 for a reported $30 million, has raised funding for a new stealthy startup.

21Buttons, a social-commerce app dedicated to fashion, closes $10M Series A

techcrunch.com

21Buttons, a social-commerce app that lets fashion influencers share their wardrobe, has closed $10 million in Series A funding.

European on-demand delivery startup Glovo raises €30 million Series B

techcrunch.com

Late last month, Spanish media got wind that the Barcelona-based on-demand delivery app Glovo had closed Series B funding, but now the company is making the news official.

MessageBird, a European cloud comms platform that competes with Twilio, raises $60M Series A

techcrunch.com

The round is being led by Accel in the U.S., with Atomico, the VC firm founded by Skype’s Niklas Zennström, leading in Europe.

LocalGlobe backs augmented and virtual reality content startup Curiscope

techcrunch.com

Curiscope, a U.K. augmented and virtual reality content startup, has raised a $1 million seed round led by LocalGlobe, the seed VC firm founded by Saul and Robin Klein.

Fintech startup Curve partners with accounting software Xero to make filing expenses ‘frictionless’

techcrunch.com

The move is part of the newly-launched ‘Curve Connect’ feature that will see Curve connect to a growing list of third-party apps and services.

Closing thought: My ears popped

BI’s Oscar Williams-Grut, Rebecca Geller, and me (Photo credit: Business Insider)

They say your ears burn when you’re being talked about. Well, on Thursday night at Business Insider’s UK Tech 100 party held at the top of The Gherkin, my ears popped, literally. I actually had to take three elevators to get to the top floor restaurant where the event was held, from which the views of London are stunning.

The party itself was a lot of fun (and not just because I made the Tech 100 list for the second year running, albeit 15 places lower than last year!). Journalism, especially when you work from home, can be quite a solitary business and I think events like these are a nice reminder that those of us who work in tech, including the media, are part of something bigger.

As usual, I got to catch up with colleagues I haven’t seen in a while, as well as meet lots of people who I’ve previously only communicated with online or on the phone, which is always great. This included most of the Business Insider tech crew, who, it has to be said, were great hosts.

Stairway to legend (Photo credit: Business Insider)

Aside from seeing my name on a staircase, the most surreal moment of the night came fairly early on after arriving and while I was still feeling a bit combobulated post-elevators and in the rush to arrive on time. I was chatting away to a friend when a photo of me wearing my trademark black hat and glasses appeared on a very large screen behind us. ‘That’s me,’ I said outloud, entirely redundantly.

At this point I remembered how I’d been trolled by Business Insider tech editor James Cook when we met for coffee in the summer. I’d asked mischievously (and slightly vainly) if I was going to be on this year’s list. ‘Maybe, still deciding,’ he replied poker faced, which prompted me to spend the next five minutes accidentally trying to talk myself off the list. ‘I haven’t really achieved anything of note this year,’ I recall saying. Luckily for me, Cook and the rest of the BI team took a different view.

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Till next time,

Steve