Thursday 22 August 2019

Sopheon falls back in H1

SopheonAIM-listed enterprise innovation management provider Sopheon, saw the progress of the last few years halted in H1 2019, with revenue falling back to $13.7m (H1 18: $15.9m). Recurring revenue increased to a $15.3m (H1 18: $13.7m) annual run rate reflecting the businesses move towards SaaS, whilst profitability also declined with an of EBITDA of $2.5m (H1 18: $4.1m). 

Management makes the case that this is a ‘bump in the road’ of continued expansion – putting the decline down to an “unusually strong 2018 second quarter performance” and expects the revenue profile for 2019 to return to its more traditional fourth quarter weighting. Indeed, sales activity was weaker than last year closing 18 software transactions in the period with 7 from new customers (2018: 29 and 9 respectively).

Whether this is just a pause or something more serious remains of course to be seen but management does point to a 48% growth in the sales pipeline for the first six months that should help drive a strong second half revenue profile. Sopheon’s licensing model is still predominantly perpetual and therefore timing of deal closure has a big impact on periodic revenue performance.

The proportion of SaaS business in the expanded pipeline has risen and should help drive the move towards higher recurring revenue and greater lifetime customer revenue. Revenue visibility for full-year 2019 is now at $25.4m (2018: $27.2m).

The company’s management remains confident about 2019 but clearly has a lot of running to do in the second half of the year.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: results   software   innovation  

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Thursday 22 August 2019

Arcontech accelerates

LogoArcontech Group PLC, a provider of products and services for real-time financial market data processing and trading, picked up its pace of expansion this last financial year. Revenue for the twelve months ended 30th June 2019 increased by 18% yoy to just shy of £3m, twice the rate of growth achieved in FY18 (see here). Aided by the release of balance sheet accruals, profit before tax was up an impressive 84% yoy to £1.06m. Both top and bottom lines were, however, boosted by the adoption of IFRS 15. On a full like for like basis, turnover and PBT rose by 13% and 35% respectively. Cash balances were up 27% to £4m.

This performance was underpinned by increased sales to Arcontech’s existing customers, four of which generated nearly two thirds FY19 revenue. Importantly, the company also doubled to 90 the client base for its Desktop software solution. This product is a key component of Arcontech’s medium term growth strategy (see here).

The business is cautiously optimistic regarding the outlook. This is despite the uncertainties surrounding both Brexit and wider changes afoot in the financial services markets. The pipeline of potential new name customers is now showing signs of material improvement, albeit that sales cycles in this arena are often long and unpredictable. Buoyed by a robust balance sheet and a healthy cash position, moreover, Arcontech is confident that it is able to both sustain current levels of investment in product development and carry on the hunt for strategic acquisition opportunities. The company expects growth to continue.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: results   software   FinTech  

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Thursday 22 August 2019

Libra faces scrutiny of EU regulators

fb libraLibra the fledgling digital currency created by US technology giant, Facebook, has attracted the scrutiny of regulators at the EU. According to reports, the European Commission is concerned over the potential anti-competitive impact of Libra and has issued requests for information to those associated with project. The move is part of a preliminary exercise aimed at gathering information before deciding whether further action is merited.

In June, Facebook announced plans to launch its new digital currency, alongside 27 other partners, including the likes of Paypal, Vodafone, Visa and Mastercard (see: As Facebook launches Libra. MyTop “It could be YOU!”). The concept is based on the principles of blockchain and distributed ledger technology, however, there are some doubts as to how closely the technology underpinning Libra will fulfil the accepted definitions.

Taken at face value, the declared ambitions for Libra are appealing. As well as the benefits of lower costs, efficiency and convenience, a digital currency of this type could significantly improve global financial inclusion amongst the unbanked. However, national governments, bankers and politicians have already raised concerns over the initiative. The widespread adoption of a low-cost, digital currency, operating across and beyond national boundaries would clearly be a massive disruptor and could potentially mean a significant loss of control for central banks.

It is not surprising that the EU is the latest body to focus its lens on Libra. Whatever the outcome of the European regulators’ scrutiny, it is unlikely that Facebook will have an easy birth. As far as a judgement on the currency itself goes, it appears to be something akin to a “Hobson’s choice”.  Who do you trust more - central governments or big-tech companies?

Posted by: Jon C Davies

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Thursday 22 August 2019

Backers book in more dosh for JRNI’s journey

logoEvery startup has a journey.

That of London-founded JRNI (pronounced ‘journey’ – geddit?) started in 2008 as BookingBug, a product to help SMEs manage customer appointments. Its journey has since taken the startup into the realms of multichannel appointment and scheduling for large enterprises (i.e. ‘call centre plus’).

JRNI’s journey has passed many milestones. It signed Levi’s as its first enterprise client in 2010 and went on to open offices in Boston and Sydney in 2016. And just a few months ago, founder Glenn Shoosmith stepped down as CEO, handing the reins to Boston-based John Federman, while switching branding from BookingBug to JRNI (by the way, exactly the same name as a US-based online therapeutics support group!), with Shoosmith becoming JRNI’s chief architect. JRNI has just recruited its first CTO to ‘oversee JRNI’s technology and product strategy and … lead the development, engineering, and product teams’. Not precisely sure where that leaves Shoosmith, then.

The CTO appointment was part of JRNI’s latest funding round, a $6m extension to its $13.4m Series C raise back in April 2018 (see BookingBug schedules first US funding round). The extension was led by PeakSpan Capital with participation from Downing Ventures and Somerston Group. This brings JRNI’s total funding to $23.2m.

One milestone JRNI has yet to achieve is profitability. Latest accounts for the year to 31st March 2018 show losses almost equal to its £6.9m revenues – but hats off to management for full transparency!

Despite its gloriously OTT marketing hype, I do ‘geddit’. JRNI has some really great brands on board, including Lego, John Lewis, Aviva, and Three, as well as Government departments such as FCO, Home Office and various local councils.

But, will JRNI's jouney ever reach a profitable destination?

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup  

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Thursday 22 August 2019

MEL Science launches AR-powered science kits for kids

MEL Science logoLondon-based immersive learning business MEL Science has launched an augmented reality (AR) powered science product aimed at primary school aged children. The launch follows a $6m investment round earlier this month.

MEL Science was founded by Vassili Philippov in 2015 with the goal of making science education easy, interesting, and effective. It launched its MEL Chemistry product the same year, which provides a monthly subscription box of chemistry experiments, and enhanced this with AR technology in 2017. The subscription, which is aimed at children aged 10-14, now includes 38 interactive hands-on chemistry sets delivered to 42 countries and translated into 6 languages.

At the beginning of August 2019, the company closed a $6m Series C funding round led by TMT Investments and additional participation from Moscow-based Sistema Venture Capital and Yandex. This round took total investment to date to $12m (see TMT immerses $2m in Edtech startup MEL Science).

MEL Science has now launched MEL Kids, a monthly subscription for children 5-10 years of age. Like MEL Chemistry the product comprises hands-on experiments with an AR app to help translate more challenging science concepts. The kits cover topics such as optics, pressure, electricity, and offer a variety of projects related to everyday life e.g. learning to build a camera or make a battery. The subscription, which costs $24.90 per month, is currently only available in the US, but will be available in other regions soon.

Regular readers of UKHotViews will know how supportive TechMarketView is of initiatives to encourage the development of children’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) skills. Given the nature of our coverage we usually concentrate on the coding side of things so it’s great to see some focus on encouraging an early interest in science.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: education   funding   STEM   VR   STEAM  

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Thursday 22 August 2019

New going live today

TMV logoAs you will have seen from earlier UKHotViews posts we have been busy working behind the scenes to bring you a new and improved Visitors will enjoy simplified navigation, easy to use drop-down menus and improved search functionality, across all their devices.

The current website will be temporarily unavailable this afternoon for a short period while our technical team work to bring the new site online. Links from this email to the website will not be active for this short period either. If you need urgent access to any resources or information during this time then please feel free to contact our Client Services team at who will be very happy to assist you.

Look out for further details in tomorrow’s UKHotViews.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

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Wednesday 21 August 2019

cloudBuy: Pain of FY18 slightly offset in H1

cloudbuyAfter producing losses that were greater than revenues in FY18, cloudBuy’s results for the first half of FY19 (six month to end June) show some brighter signs.

The AIM-listed e-commerce and B2B e-procurement provider has sold off its Company Formations business (generating c£280k in cash – every little helps, as they say), and has reduced operating losses by 28% (to £652k). With more focus on the growth parts of the business, and a tighter control on costs (alongside improved cash management), the company’s position looks slightly better than in FY18.

As for revenue, there is some better news there too. Revenue (excluding the sale of the Company Formations business) improved 11% to c£540k, driven by the PHBChoices business. PHBChoices is cloudBuy’s prime growth driver and market sentiment looks positive. There is demand from NHS England to personalise care, and Personal Health Budgets are a key method of increasing patient choice. The firms expects the PHBChoices product to continue to grow this year and next, and believes operating losses will continue to improve.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan

Tags: results   cloud   e-commerce   marketplace  

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Wednesday 21 August 2019

DXC looks to Google to improve its cloud fortunes

Google CloudUS technology giant, DXC, has announced a new global partnership with Google Cloud. Under the terms of the alliance, DXC and Google Cloud will collaborate on solution development, training, certification and marketing in order to promote and deliver cloud platform services. As a result of the partnership, DXC’s offerings in Workplace and Mobility, Cloud and Platform Services, Analytics, Business Process Services, and Security will combine with elements of the Google Cloud Platform.

Ironically, following a disappointing set of results, DXC’s CEO, Mike Lawrie, recently revealed that faster than expected cloud adoption was having a damaging impact on the company’s performance. DXC’s share price fell to a historic low earlier this month, having plummeted by around 70% since last September, with the company’s infrastructure business reporting a fall of 11% in Q1 (see: Revenue decline at DXC accelerates in Q1).

Google has been investing heavily in its cloud offerings, as it plays catch up with the two established market leaders, AWS and Microsoft Azure. The company has struck up global partnerships with a variety of major vendors and has increasingly found favour, in part due to the potent analytics capabilities embedded in its offerings (see: HPE partnerships underline importance of ecosystems for hybrid).

Meanwhile, DXC has received some good news from elsewhere, with the company having won a binding arbitration judgement against HPE, relating its 2017 acquisition of HPES. As a result, HPE must pay DXC around $666m, following an accounting dispute in respect of the valuation of assets. The award will no doubt provide a welcome boost to DXC’s finances, in light of the company’s declining revenues.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: partnerships  

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Wednesday 21 August 2019

*NEW RESEARCH* Business Process Services Market Trends & Forecasts 2019

For the most comprehensive understanding of the UK’s Business Process Services (BPS) market, read UK Business Process Services Market Trends & Forecasts 2019.

report coverThis report contains TechMarketView’s latest forecasts and trends for the UK Business Process Services (BPS) market. The UK BPS market continued to go through a period of significant disruption and change in 2018. The lack of large-scale tenders, particularly ‘greenfield’ opportunities, continues to restrict growth especially in the Public Sector still suffering from Brexit paralysis. Whilst the Private Sector remains more active, investment decisions are often delayed and confidence in some areas remains low. As a consequence, client engagement and relationship management have never been more important. Upselling and cross-selling service lines to existing clients, growing accounts, filling ‘contract headroom’ and securing renewals and extensions are vital to hitting budget.

The BPS market comprises certain very large, traditional outsourcing contracts, which are typically shrinking on renewal – either through rescoping and/or pricing pressure. Newer propositions are tending to shy away from large scale risk transfer, towards smaller more flexible deployments, often built on an ecosystem of partner offerings. Cultivating and managing these relationships has become a sector USP, vital to market success. BPS providers are positioning themselves less as outsourcers and more as ‘managers of operations’ with a much-needed switch in emphasis towards partnership working.

The move from ‘simple digital’ towards more complex and varied arrangements is helping drive market demand for change management and consulting-based services. The flipside is that difficulty in dealing with a complex environment drives caution and risk aversion, which can of course manifest in delays and cancellations. Either way, BPS providers are having to get to grips with disrupting themselves, both in terms of culture and operational approach, before they can truly deliver for their clients.

Subscribers to TechMarketView's BusinessProcessViews research services can read the full analysis of what is happening in the UK BPS market in our new report Business Process Services Market Trends & Forecasts 2019.

If you are not yet a BusinessProcessViews subscriber, please contact Deb Seth to find out how you can access the research.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: markettrends   bps   newresearch   markettrends  

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Wednesday 21 August 2019

Civica acquires Warwick International

Civica logoCivica has acquired Derbyshire-based occupational health and health and safety SaaS specialist Warwick International for an undisclosed fee. The company will form part of Civica’s Health and Care division.

Warwick International was established in 1990. It provides two occupational health products, OPAS-G2 and eOPAS, which cover appointment management, auditing, data and reporting, management referrals, billing and clinical notes. It also supplies a web-based health and safety management software product called eSAFETY.

The acquisition will strengthen Civica’s position in a number of key markets. Warwick International’s software is used by more than 40 NHS trusts, several police forces, including the Metropolitan Police Service and West Midlands Police, local authorities and education establishments. It also has a number of private sector customers, including John Lewis Partnership, Sky and Skanska.

Warwick International follows ERS Group, Trac Systems, TranSend Solutions, and Asset Edge in joining Civica during its current financial year (see Civica revenues boosted by business down under for further information). As was the case with these previous deals, this acquisition follows Civica’s strategy of adding specialist cloud solutions and deep sector expertise to complement its existing operations.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: health   acquisition   saas   software  

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Wednesday 21 August 2019

Ignore the gloomsters – UK tech is thriving!

Two seemingly contradictory articles hit the media this morning.

In an article Brexit has chilling effect on UK inward investment, the Financial Times sows more seeds of gloom and doom implying that Brexit is responsible for a sharp fall in job creation and foreign inward investment since the EU referendum.

chartOn the other hand, latest data from Tech Nation, the government-backed UK entrepreneurs network, tells quite a different story: investment in UK startups is reaching new heights. This follows an earlier Tech Nation report which put tech investment in the UK ahead of every other European country in 2018 (see UK a hotbed for tech innovation and scaleups).

According to Tech Nation, venture capital investment in UK startups jumped 43% in the first half of 2019, to $6.7b. VC investment from US and Asian investors alone reached $3.5b, exceeding full-year levels in either 2018 or 2017. The largest investments included a $575m Series G funding round in Deliveroo led by Amazon (see Amazon Primes Deliveroo) and a $550m Series C round for Babylon Health (see Babylon joins unicorn club with $550m fundraise).

In addition, the Tech Nation report claims that some 15,000 additional jobs have been created in the UK tech sector by the top 30 foreign-funded companies in H1 2019, compared to 10,000 in 2016.

According to TechMarketView estimates (see IndustryViews Venture Capital Q1 2019 Review), VC investment in UK and Irish tech companies reached £1.58b in the first three months of this year, 25% higher than in Q1 2018. We will publish Q2 figures in the next few weeks.

Virtually every single day of the week we comment on new funding raised by UK startups and scaleups. I would say the pace has increased since the referendum result. We regularly meet with UK entrepreneurs and the ‘B’ word rarely enters the conversation. And we will soon be announcing two new events in our TechMarketView Innovation Partner Programme series giving UK startups and scaleups the chance to partner with leading UK tech companies.

Ignore the gloomsters and doomsters – UK tech is thriving!

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup  

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Wednesday 21 August 2019

SpotQA secures $3.25m to bring on automated testing

logoThe counterpart of rapid and continuous development, be it via DevOps, agile or low code practices, is rapid and continuous software testing. Traditional automation goes some way to meeting the necessary speed requirements but software testing providers are moving into RPA and machine learning to improve the situation and London start-up SpotQA does precisely that. 

The company, founded towards the end of 2016, has just released its Virtuoso automated software testing platform. It aims to prevent the deployment bottlenecks that can arise  from continual development by using RPA and machine learning to speed up mobile and web app testing (the company cites a 25x improvement) across the software development lifecycle - from specification to production. SpotQA also aims to make automated testing accessible to less-technical users, expanding it outside the software and QA engineer domain. 

SpotQA is not the only software testing provider to deploy machine learning and RPA - think Eggplant for example – but the proposition has secured the start-up $3.25m seed funding from Crane Venture Partners, with participation from Forward VenturesDowning Ventures and Acequia Capital and the company is in a market sweet spot. 

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: testing   funding   startup   software  

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Wednesday 21 August 2019

Musings on fraud

BurglarLast year, the area in which I live had three burglaries. Fortunately nobody was hurt. But great trauma none the less for those involved. The police took it seriously. The gang members involved were apprehended and last month sent to prison.

Conversely my wife and I and my business face fraud attacks seemingly on a daily basis. These take the form of ‘real person’ telephone calls pretending to be from the likes of TalkTalk, BT and Microsoft trying to get me to hand over control of my PC or pretend stock brokers after my shares. I also get very real looking emails, which have got through my stringent anti virus software, inviting me to click on links or pdfs with malicious intent. To date none of these have been successful. But I can really understand how people would be taken in.

If I had had an attempted burglary, I would have reported it to the police and I would expect them to take it seriously.

Last week, The Times ran an expose of what happens to those who fall victim to such attacks and report such crimes to Action Fraud. It made dismal reading. Only 3% of calls result in charges. That is when a fraud is successful - not just attempted. Almost all attempted fraud - like the attempts to defraud me referred to above - is not even reported.

What it really said was that if you attempt fraud - of any kind - the chances of it being investigated by anyone is very low as are the chances of you being caught and punished. Much, much lower than if you attempt a physical burglary.

I find that both alarming and deeply depressing.

Posted by: Richard Holway

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Tuesday 20 August 2019

UPDATE: Sorted’s funding mystery sorted!

logoMuch appreciated the clarification I received from Manchester-based retail delivery software startup Sorted regarding their recent raise (see More dosh for Manchester startup Sorted, sorted!).

The article I alluded to in the Manchester Evening News referred to an earlier funding round, after which point Sorted had raised a total of £22m. The more recent Series B round brought that total to over £35m.

Mystery sorted!

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup  

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Tuesday 20 August 2019

Next round of Local Digital Fund opens

MHCLG logoThe Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has announced the next round of funding for the Local Digital Fund.

The Government launched the Local Digital Declaration, a shared vision for the future of local public services, in July 2018. It was backed by £7.5m of funding—the Local Digital Fund—to help councils looking to improve public services through innovative uses of digital technology.

In December c.£1.3m was awarded to 16 projects, with 57 councils working across 10 discovery projects (to better understand a common problem) and 6 alpha projects (build and test something to address a known requirement).

This year’s funding (2019-20) was split into two rounds. Last month, some of the 16 projects from last year, which were ready to move to the next project phase, were invited to apply for further funding in Round 2.

Yesterday, the Government invited all councils in England to apply for grants of up to £350,000 in Round 3 of the fund. This year all bids will need to be developed or contributed to by three or more local authorities (it was previously two). Central government departments are also invited to bid as the lead organisation if they can demonstrate input from at least three local authorities. Councils from elsewhere in the UK are allowed to be a partnering applicant as long as the lead council is from England.

With 389 expressions of interest from 171 organisations last year, which led to 77 full applications in Round 1, we can expect Round 3 to attract significant interest. With the ongoing funding challenges in local government, councils will increasingly need to work together to find solutions to common problems.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: funding   government   digital   localgovernment  

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Tuesday 20 August 2019

Accenture acquires Parker Fitzgerald

AccentureAccenture is looking to strengthen its position in the Risk Advisory and Assurance space with the acquisition of Parker Fitzgerald, a consultancy to the Financial Service majors. Terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.

Parker FitzerlandParker Fitzgerald dates back to the financial crisis of 2008 when it was established to help major FS players deal with the fall out, and the associated challenges of both financial and non-financial risk, increased regulation and financial technology. 

Accenture continues to be very acquisitive and has now created one of the UK’s largest risk and regulatory consulting practices. Parker Fitzgerald’s advisory and assurance expertise and its regulatory experience should fit well with Accenture’s consulting and technology capabilities, better supporting clients on the rapidly evolving risk landscape.

As we highlighted in our recent UK SITS Market Trends and Forecasts 2019 report, Consulting is the fastest growing service line within UK SITS benefiting from all of the uncertainty and disruption found throughout the market. Accenture remains the largest provider of such services having invested aggressively in a range of complimentary services.

Acquisitions like Parker Fitzgerald are helping Accenture build scale in specialised services and develop a differentiated proposition in an increasingly competitive market – not to mention that the margins here should be pretty attractive also.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: accenture   acquisition   financialservices  

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Tuesday 20 August 2019

Tribal on track but facing market challenges

Tribal logoH1 2019 results for education software and services supplier Tribal Group show a dip in total revenue but improvements in recurring revenue and operating margin.

Revenue for the six months ended 30 June 2019 was down 3.8% to £40.4m (H1 2018: £42.0m). However, with margins improving slightly to 15.5% (H1 2018: 15.0%) adjusted operating profit was flat at £6.3m. Annual recurring revenue was up 5% to £19.9m (H1 2018: £18.9m).

The business continues to drive operational efficiencies and cost savings in central functions—central overheads reduced to £5.6m (H1 2018: £6.0m). Adjusted operating profit before central overhead efficiencies decreased by 4.8% to £11.8m (H1 2018: £12.4m).

Student Information Systems (SIS) revenue fell 1.7% to £28.7m (H1 2018: £29.1m) but was consistent with the previous period on a constant currency basis. Tribal won two new Further Education college contracts during the period, including Capital City Colleges Group. Tribal’s cloud-based SIS, Tribal Edge, has made progress during the period with the first module due to go live in Australia at the end of the year. The acquisition of Crimson Consultants should allow the business to accelerate the development of new functionality for the platform.

Overall revenue in Education Services fell 8.7% to £11.7m (H1 2018: £12.8m). Quality Assurance Services (QAS) was down 5% to £9.1m (H1 2018: £9.5m) as the Abu Dhabi Ministry for Education ended its schools inspection contract early. However, it did secure a new, £9m 3-year contract with the DfE for the National Centre for the Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM). i-graduate revenue decreased by 29% to £0.8m (2018 H1: £1.2m) largely due to its contract with the Higher Education Statistics Agency returning inhouse.

Although Tribal remains confident the full year will meet expectations fewer education institutions are currently looking to procure full student information systems. Helping existing customers shift to the cloud and interest in its Tribal Dynamics products may sustain the business this year, but it admits 2020 may be more challenging.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: results   education   he   university  

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Tuesday 20 August 2019

*UKHotViews Extra* askporter: ‘Pioneering’ property management

logoThe piece of the jigsaw I missed when I wrote a couple of weeks ago about London-based Proptech startup askporter (see Proptech askporter raises dosh to weave more magic) is that founder Tom Shrive is in the property management business himself and knows how it works from first-hand experience. I only found this out after I met him to find out more about the company. And he has a very interesting story to tell.

TechMarketView Subscription Research clients and UKHotViews Premium subscribers can read more in UKHotViews Extra.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup   PropTech  

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Tuesday 20 August 2019

Oracle taps Open Banking to accelerate mortgages

OracleUS technology vendor, Oracle, has launched a new suite of tools, aimed at accelerating “digital” mortgage lending, off the back of the Open Banking reforms in the UK. Oracle Banking Enterprise Originations is equipped with around 200 open APIs, that aggregate third party data from service providers and financial services institutions.

The mortgage lending process remains one of the most time-consuming and potentially stressful financial services interactions that most customers experience. The new Oracle solution is targeted at banks and building societies and is designed to transform residential, buy-to-let and small business lending via the use of open architecture and process automation.

Open Banking has already been a catalyst for change in the UK. The landscape of innovative third-party providers is expanding and the use of open APIs is increasingly bringing benefits to mainstream (see: Open Banking momentum starts to build). According to Oracle, one undisclosed UK bank has cut the documentation associated with its mortgages by half. The lender has also reduced the cost of origination by 25% whilst also accelerating the lending process.

Oracle are currently in 12th place in our Top 30 list of UK financial services suppliers (see: UK Financial Services SITS Supplier Ranking 2019). Like other longstanding players in the banking value chain, the company is modernising its array of services as the marketplace for technology evolves.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: OpenBanking   Lending  

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Tuesday 20 August 2019

Full year looking good for Tracsis

logoAIM-listed traffic and transport data services provider Tracsis looks set to report another year of strengthening performance according to its pre-close trading update, through a solid combination of organic and acquisition-based growth.

Revenue, EBITDA and Adjusted EBIT for the year to 31 July 2019 are expected to be in line with market expectations and ahead of the previous year, which saw organic revenue rise 14% to £39.8m and adjusted EBITDA increase 11% to £9.4m. 

There was momentum in H119 (e.g. revenue up 5%) but H2 is excepted to be have been stronger due in particular to the positive impact of three acquisitions: timetabling optimisation specialist Bellvedi, GIS and data analytics services company Compass Informatics and event traffic planning and admissions software provider Cash & Traffic Management. In addition, revenue from a major contract signed in H1 was set to start flowing in H2, adding to the top line. Despite paying £9m for the acquisitions, the company increased its cash balance to £24m (vs. £22.3m) and has no debt, which underlines its cash generative credentials. Tracsis is in a vertical sweet spot, with a nice combination of data services and software to leverage for growth. 

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: software   analytics   trading   data  

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Tuesday 20 August 2019

Cogeco Peer 1 relaunches as Aptum Technologies

aptFollowing on from its acquisition in April by investment firm, Digital Colony, Cogeco Peer 1 has relaunched as Aptum Technologies. The new name is certainly less of a mouthful, and with “Aptum” being derived from the latin for adaptability, we expect to see more actions to evolve the business in the near future.sus

Aptum Technologies’ services span the data centre (including cloud and hosting) and fibre. In other words, it owns and runs the infrastructure that is essential for the delivery of complex digital services. For example, customer Element AI delivers compute-intensive machine learning and AI algorithms. It is also now 35 times bigger than its launch in 2016 and claims Aptum has been able to “adapt to solve our unique challenges”.

The re-launch is an important milestone for Aptum, which was previously a business unit within a Canadian telco. Under Digital Colony's ownership, and led by CEO (and Brit) Susan Bowen (pictured), we’re expecting to see more developments filter through in the coming months.

Indeed, today the company launched a couple of new offerings. Firstly, Managed Amazon Web Services, which underlines Aptum’s commitment to multi-cloud (it already provides Managed Azure and Managed Private Cloud offerings). Services include consulting, architecture design, and migration, and are available now in Canada, the US and the UK. Secondly, the expansion of Cloud Connect, which offers a direct, dedicated and secure connection to cloud services. Cloud Connect is now available for AWS Direct Connect, Google Cloud Platform, ServiceNow, Salesforce, SAP and Oracle in addition to Microsoft ExpressRoute.

In the UK, one of Aptum’s most comparable competitors is Claranet, which has made notable progress with its cloud consulting business in particular. Both are certainly playing in a market with great opportunities, but they both need to do more to help the market understand the full scope of their capabilities.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan

Tags: cloud   networkservices   connectivity   data   brand  

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Monday 19 August 2019

More dosh for Manchester startup Sorted, sorted!

logoIt seems the news took a few months to travel from Manchester to the rest of the UK, as the Manchester Evening News apparently broke the story back in May that retail delivery software startup Sorted had raised more funding. Anyway, it’s a £15m Series B round led by Merian Chrysalis Investment Company alongside Praetura Ventures and NVM Private Equity.

Sorted’s total funding raised since its launch in 2010 is either £35m (its own PR) or £22m (Manchester Evening News) or all stations in between. Accounts for the company (formal name Sorted Group) refer to a £10m raise in October 2018 by parent Sorted Holdings, so I suspect the £35m includes early ‘Founder, Family & Friends’ contributions.

Which brings me on to Sorted’s founder, David Grimes, who started (does what it says on the tin) in 2009 ‘from his parents’ kitchen table’. Sorted and My Parcel Delivery are subsidiaries of Sorted Holdings, which at year end 31st May 2018 had debtors of £14.3m. Accounts for Sorted Group ‘went dark’ after 2017, the last full P&L disclosure. The company was then turning over £455k but racking up losses of £2.39m.

I’m inferring that Grimes runs the two operating businesses: MyParcelDelivery, which basically competes with Parcelforce and the many other usual suspects; and Sorted, the underlying technology platform, which has in effect been spun out as a separate tech business.

Sorted (the software bit) has some marquee names in the client list, including Lush and ASOS, and claims the platform is ‘live’ in 12 countries including the US, France and Germany. There are similar startups in the market such as Weengs (see Smart logistics start-up aims to spread its Weengs) and HubBox (see HubBox clicks and collects $1.6m funding) also with marquee clients, so ‘game on’ I suppose.

Note: This post has since been updated - please see Sorted's funding mystery sorted.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup   logistics  

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Monday 19 August 2019

Blue Prism picks up new COO

Blur PrismUK RPA player Blue Prism has appointed enterprise software veteran Eric Verniaut as its new Chief Operating Officer with a broad remit, including overall responsibility for go-to-market operations, sales, field marketing, partner management, globalisation, customer service and support.

Eric VerniautVerniaut brings to Blue Prism some 30 years’ experience in the software business, most recently at SAP where he was Chief Business Officer for EMEA, MEE and Greater China. Prior to that Verniaut was at Lawson Software, a mid-market, US-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) provider, where he oversaw global sales and services.

This is an important signing for Blue Prism, the firm has grown rapidly with significant expansion overseas, particularly in the US and in Asia Pacific where Verniaut’s experience will be particularly valuable. Whilst the firm has significant sums to invest it will require the right experience and infrastructure to make sure that it is both efficient and effective in its growth. The appointment should also help provide bandwidth to the rest of the management team, no doubt stretched by the firm's rapid growth.

"Eric's appointment is a continuation of Blue Prism's global growth story," said CEO Alastair Bathgate. "The company is now three times the size it was just over a year ago, and Eric's expertise and experience will add strength and depth at all levels of the organization. The market for RPA and automation tools is changing rapidly, and I'm excited to bring Eric on board to architect and drive growth as we adapt and expand in this industry."

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: appointment   blueprism  

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Monday 19 August 2019

*NEW RESEARCH* Financial Services SITS Supplier Ranking 2019

If you haven’t already read our 2019 Financial Services SITS Supplier Ranking report, TechMarketView subscribers can download it here now.

fsvThere is significant change at the top and technology investment by banks and insurers has shifted markedly from “run the business” to “change the business”. Vendors that can best address this need are increasingly winning out and several leading SITS providers have been experiencing very strong growth.

The advent of cheap, on demand, processing and storage capacity has revolutionised technology provision within financial services. This has provided the impetus for digital transformation and pulled the rug from under some of the previously dominant suppliers.

This comprehensive analysis contains a view on the performance of each of the Top 20 SITS suppliers to the UK financial services industry. The report includes a ranking table comparing revenue and growth and provides valuable insights into the dynamics shaping the market.

Subscribers to TechMarketView's FinancialServicesViews can download this report now. If you are a SITS vendor or an end user organisation operating within the UK Financial Services sector, this report provides essential insights into the supplier landscape. If you do not currently have access and would like to learn more about this title or our services, please email Deb Seth.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: newresearch  

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Monday 19 August 2019

What are you waiting for?

TMV logoJoin some 200 leaders from the world of UK tech in London on the evening of 12 September to hear the latest insight and analysis direct from TechMarketView’s expert team. Tickets are selling quickly so book your place now before it's too late! 

The seventh annual ‘Evening with TechMarketView’ commences with a drinks reception, sponsored by InterSystems, from 6.30pm and finishes with a three-course silver service dinner, sponsored by Datto. In between those two fantastic networking opportunities, our guests take their seats in the auditorium for a series of short presentations from TechMarketView’s senior team on the trends and suppliers shaping and disrupting the UK tech market, for example:

·      Hear what suppliers and end-users of tech should be doing in order to prosper in ‘The Year of the Relationship’

·      Understand how growth rates differ between ‘heritage’ and ‘new’ products and services and the forecast implications

·      Find out which SITS suppliers in the UK top 60 grew fastest last year and why.

Mastercard logoGuests will also be privy to a ‘fireside chat’ with Mastercard’s EVP for Global Cities, Miguel Gamiño. Prior to joining Mastercard, Miguel served as the CTO of New York City, pioneering a new civic engagement and innovation platform for NYC and he has stood as a voice of leadership in tech policy, including smart city and IoT programmes. 

Prince's Trust logo

We are also delighted to be joined for the evening by representatives from The Prince’s Trust, including the charity’s Deputy CEO Tara Leathers, who will be sharing insight on the fantastic work that they do with young people with support from companies across the UK tech sector. 

Tickets are selling quickly so don’t risk missing your chance to join us for an enjoyable evening of analyst insight and quality networking – book your place now! There are also a limited number of tables of 10 available so why not gather a group of colleagues or clients and bring them along for the evening too?

Don’t forget that if you are a TechMarketView subscription client, subscribe to UKHotViewsPremium or if you're one of our Little British BattlersGreat British Scaleups or Innovation Partner Programme companies, you will be eligible for the discounted TechMarketView ticket price. See the full details and booking form here.

Event details

Date: Thursday 12th September 2019

Venue: Royal Institute of British Architects, London

Format: A networking drinks reception commences from 6:30pm, supported by InterSystems. This will be followed by 90 minutes of speaker sessions and a first-class silver service dinner supported by Datto.

For more information contact tx2events at 020 3137 2541 or

CLICK HERE to book now!

An Evening with TechMarketView is proudly supported by:

InterSystemsDatto logo


Posted by: HotViews Editor

Tags: events  

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Friday 16 August 2019

Corero revenue dips 16% in tandem with Juniper slump

Corero revenue dips 16% in tandem with Juniper slumpA trading update suggests a difficult first half for AIM-listed cyber security supplier Corero Network Security. Revenue for the six months ending June 2019 is expected to be US$4.2m, down 16% yoy on the US$5m posted in H118, with EBITDA losses widening to US$2m from US1.4m a year before.

Management blamed a lower than expected conversion of opportunities created by the global resale partnership forged with network equipment manufacturer Juniper Networks in 2017 (later strengthened with US$2m of funding). The first revenue generating order from a service provider deploying Corero’s SmartWall distributed denial of service (DDoS) alongside Juniper's MX Series Routers was signed in March last year but momentum appears to have stalled since.

Smartwall is based squarely on hardware appliances, and Corero’s poor first half could be another symptom of customers not committing to on-premise infrastructure deployments due to high equipment costs. Sales of Juniper networking equipment too suffered in the first six months of the current calendar year, with revenue dipping 7% yoy in the first quarter and 8% in Q219.

It would be too simplistic to say that Corero’s fortunes are now inextricably tied to Juniper’s, but we already know that US telecommunications equipment suppliers are being adversely impacted by the US – China trade war (see Cisco outlook suggests sluggish year ahead).

The appointment of a new vice president of worldwide sales in June heralded the injection of new impetus and investment in Corero's sales capabilities for the second half. But like other tech companies it will be hoping it’s not caught up in the fallout from somebody else's argument.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: trading   cyber   Corero   DDoS   JuniperNetworks   telecoms  

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Friday 16 August 2019

Germany’s Heycar declares war on UK used car market

At least Heycar has more than 41 used cars for sale, unlike UK-based used car marketplace Hellocar, which crashed and burned a couple of years ago (see Hellocar says Goodbye). London/Berlin based Carspring apparently suffered a similar fate.

Backed by two of Germany’s leading car manufacturers, Volkswagen and Daimler, Berlin-based Heycar has just launched in the UK with (as at time of writing) 100,183 used cars available for sale, from the A to V of brands (as in Abarth to Volvo). Heycar launched in its home market in 2017.

Not that there’s any shortage of car marketplaces in the UK, both online and offline.

UK-based, LSE-listed Auto Trader claims to be ‘the UK’s largest digital automotive marketplace’, with revenues of £355m last year (to 31st March 2019) and a 69% (!) operating margin. Privately held, UK-based ‘bricks and clicks and mortar’ used car dealer Cargiant is rather bigger by sales. Revenues reached £539m in 2017 – the last year for which accounts are available – eking out a gross profit of £60m (11% gross margin) and an operating profit of £41m (8% margin).

Then there are specialists like classic car marketplace Cazana (see Classic-enhanced Cazana motors on with the crowd), and auction-like Motorway (see Motorway drives off with £11m funding round) among many others. And by the way, Daimler is also pitching for a cut of new car sales in the UK, backing loss-making startup Carwow (see Daimler pumps £25m into Carwow’s leaky tank).

In the end if you are buying or selling a used car, you’ll probably check out all the websites (Idea Warning: Opportunity for a used car marketplace aggregator website – and pick the one that suits you best.

By the way, Heycar’s PR talks about the UK used car industry being worth £50b. If two of the largest players can barely muster £1b in revenues between them, where’s the rest coming from?

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: startup   marketplace  

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Friday 16 August 2019

A Level results

Encouraging signs but still a long way to go

StudentsFor decades I have been campaigning both for more youngsters to be interested in STEM subjects and more girls to get into IT/computing.

Yesterday’s A Level results showed that real progress was being made.

  • The number of students taking STEM subjects at A Levels has increased by 9% over last 5 years.
  • STEM subjects made up 21% of all A Level entries - up from 19.2% in 2018
  • Maths was the most popular A Level subject with 85,000 entries. Bad news was that this represented a 5.8% fall in the number of entries compared to 2018. Harder GCSEs were blamed.
  • The % of girls taking STEM subjects (50.3%) has overtaken boys for the very first time.
  • The % of girls taking A Level Computing has doubled since 2013 but it is still only 13.3% (1475) of the total. There were just 10400 entries for Computing compared to 737,000 total entries - ie only around 1.4% of all exams sat were in Computing.

All moving in the right direction - but still a long way to go.

The number of students taking A Level Computing is still too low. Although the % of girls taking Computing has increased, it is also still far too low. Same applies for Maths where boys significantly outnumber girls. Being the father of two girls - one who was very interested in Maths and the other in Computing - I really don’t understand the shortfall. Except that in our household both subjects were considered ‘cool’ and they were constantly exposed and interested in all types of technology.

Over recent years there have been great strides in promoting female technology role models. Maybe we are on a longer burner. Ie that interest in STEM starts almost from birth. If the kind of advances we have seen this year can be continued, in 5-10 years time the situation could be significantly improved.

It matters because I happen to believe that the UK’s future - outside or inside the EU - depends on us being a high-skill country taking full advantage of the opportunities that digital presents. I want the UK to be the leading global digital economy and the best place on earth to setup and develop a digital company - providing the very best career opportunities for all our boys AND girls.  

Posted by: Richard Holway

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Friday 16 August 2019

*UKHotViewsExtra* Capital markets is key for Evans and DXC Technology

RichEvansI recently returned to the offices of my former employer, DXC Technology, to meet with Rich Evans, the company's newly installed Industry General Manager, Banking and Capital Markets. Evans joined DXC earlier this year and we had previously resolved to catch up properly, having met briefly at the Mike Lawrie hosted, opening of DXC’s new London Innovation Hub in June.

Evans is a capital markets expert with something of a reputation for innovation in electronic trading. He spent nearly 3 years as Head of Equities at Barclays Investment Bank, having started his career at Salomon Brothers in the nineties.

The appointment of Evans reflects the growing importance of the capital markets space to DXC and its ambitions for growth in the sector. Something that is further evidenced by the company’s recent acquisitions of both Fixnetix and Luxoft. TechMarketView clients, including UKHotViews Premium subscribers, can learn more via HotViewsExtra (see: Capital markets is key for Evans and DXC Technology). 


Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: banking   CapitalMarkets  

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