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Tuesday 18 January 2022

WCIT ‘Giving IT Back’ Industry Dinner

WCITAt long last it does appear that ‘live’ events are returning. After a two year absence The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WCIT) ‘Giving IT Back’ Industry Dinner  is going ahead on Tuesday 15th March 22 at the majestic Drapers Hall in Thogmorton Street in London.

It promises to be a fun and entertaining evening where you can meet your IT industry friends again –‘in the flesh’ so-to-speak! All in aid of the WCIT charities. Also a chance to meet the new Master – Alistair Fulton – Founding MD of Triad. 

Individual tickets and tables can be booked CLICK HERE or contact our friend Tina.Compton@tx2events.com who is organising the event.

Posted by: Richard Holway at 08:50

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Tuesday 18 January 2022

Kape TU points to landmark year

A “landmark” year for Kape Technologies looks to have pushed the digital security and privacy software supplier’s revenue beyond US$230m. A trading update for the 12 month period ending December 2021 indicates turnover expanded 89% year on year (74% organically) with adjusted EBITDA up 97% to around US$77m in line with guidance.

The recent acquisitions of Webselenese and ExpressVPN will swell those numbers even further in the current financial year – management believe FY22 turnover will be in the range of US$610m-624m, and adjusted EBITDA US$166m-172m. London headquartered Kape (formerly Crossrider) is now one of the world’s biggest providers of secure, remote access solutions for consumers and small businesses, having seen a surge in demand for its products and services from remote workers since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The company reportedly has over 6.5m paying subscribers and over 750 employees located in ten regional offices. Though the majority of those customers are consumers, micro and small businesses rather than corporates, we think some employees at larger organisations undoubtedly deployed Kape’s virtual private network (VPN) software as a quick, stop gap measure in the Spring of last year until their IT departments could arrange a more permanent approach to remote worker security.

Acquisition has played the dominant role in the company’s expansion strategy to date, but the unexpected surge in demand provided a turbo boost which has built solid foundations for Kape going forward if it can keep enough of those newly acquired customers on board.

Posted by: Martin Courtney at 08:35

Tags: cybersecurity   tradingupdate   vpn  

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Tuesday 18 January 2022

Microsoft calling for UK AI/environmental startups

Microsoft logoMicrosoft is on the lookout for UK startups to join the 2022 AI for Environmental Sustainability Accelerator. Run in partnership with The Met Office and Social Tech Trust, the programme aims to attract startups using AI as part of a product or solution idea that tackles environmental challenges, specifically within the areas of carbon, water, waste, ecosystems, climate equality and green skilling. 

As with the previous three programmes, there is no cost to take part, the three providers will not take any equity in the businesses and the startups retain all intellectual property rights. During the four month programme Microsoft Azure cloud credits will be provided along with advice from experts on AI, technology, commercial development and social impact, workshops, coaching from Microsoft, The Met Office and Social Tech Trust, networking opportunities and funding support. There are also post-programme communities.

This year’s AI for Environmental Sustainability Accelerator kicks-off in mid-March and will run until June. Applicants can apply here and the deadline for applications is 13 February.

Posted by: Angela Eager at 08:26

Tags: AI   startups   sustainability  

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Tuesday 18 January 2022

Backers build stronger foundations for 7Bridges expansion

logoWhen I wrote about London-based logistics and supply chain optimisation start-up 7bridges’ seed funding round back in June 2020, I was curious about its business model, which was based around taking a cut of the savings its clients make from using the platform (see No dispute over 7bridges fundraising).

It’s still the case that 7Bridges’ entry-level ‘Audit’ package comes free of subscription fees, while charging ‘10% of the savings from successful disputes’ – which rather makes one wonder about the unsuccessful ones. They have become rather coy about the pricing for the more advanced packages (‘Get in touch for pricing. Pilot trial available’) which promise greater savings for what I assume will be a greater cut on their side.

Co-founded in 2016 by ex-logistics industry exec Philip Ashton (CEO) and ex-‘quant’ Matei Beremski (CPO), 7Bridges has raised a further $17m in a Series A funding round led by Eight Roads, with additional investment from Maersk Growth and support from existing investors Local Globe and Crane.

There's absolutely no doubt that supply chain management (SCM) is one of the great global business challenges of our time. This is stimulating huge investor interest in SCM technology providers, witness, for example, PwC’s acquisition of Coventry-based Olivehorse just last month (see PwC buys supply chain specialist) and a significant raise by Belfast-founded fulfilment services specialist Selazar last November (see Backer fulfils expansion ambitions for fulfilment startup Selazar).

There’s also no doubt that 7Bridges’ raise is a great vote of confidence in the company. But I remain to be convinced that a reward-based business model contingent on resolving disputes between its clients and its client’s suppliers is the best way forwards.

Posted by: Anthony Miller at 08:00

Tags: funding   startup  

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Tuesday 18 January 2022

Marston Holdings snaps up Vortex IoT

Marston Holdings logoTechnology-driven transport and enforcement solutions provider Marston Holdings has announced the acquisition of IoT start-up Vortex IoT. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Marston works with clients across central and local government, utilities and private sector, including Highways England, Transport for London and 280 local authorities. It provides services covering monitoring and infringement detection, field services, back office processing, recovery, and associated consultancy. It achieved revenue of £297m in 2020 and currently employs c.6,000 staff and contractors across the UK, Europe and India (see Marston Holdings appoints NPS’ Steve Callaghan as Chairman).

The deal follows an acquisitive period for Marston in 2019, which saw the addition of Smartworks and Gasworks (smart metering); Smart 4U (electric vehicle charging point installation); Parktrade Europe (tolling payments and collections); Logic Valley Technologies (AI-focused development); and Videalert (intelligent traffic management solutions). The acquisition of Vortex is its first since that flurry of activity three years ago with previous acquisitions reportedly doing well.

Vortex logoVortex is led by Adrian Sutton (CEO) and Behzad Heravi (CTO) who co-founded the business in 2017. It supplies a range of IoT solutions covering air quality management (AQM), parking space detection, and infrastructure and street asset management. Its integrated, end-to-end technology stack includes hardware components (AQM sensors, LiDAR and cameras) through to AI and machine learning driven software. Vortex’s technology has been employed by a number of local authorities in partnership with Marston, including Hammersmith & Fulham, which is installing one of the world’s largest concentrations of AQM sensors in a city environment. Vortex has also partnered with National Express and BT to pilot a LiDAR-based Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) solution as part of the West Midlands 5G (WM5G) programme.

Although Vortex is relatively small in revenue terms, it has innovative technology in part of the market where we expect demand to accelerate rapidly. There are good synergies and strong cross-selling opportunities between Marston and Vortex, particularly given Marston’s reach into the local authority customer base and strength of balance sheet, which should help Vortex to scale and Marston to enhance its existing offerings. The deal will allow Marston to integrate AQM with its technology led traffic management and associated enforcement solutions, helping customers with their air quality and decarbonisation initiatives, as well as enabling local authorities to become more financially self-sufficient.

As we discussed in our recent Local & Regional Government Supplier & Market Analysis report, the UK Government's plans to create cleaner and healthier urban environments and reduce carbon emissions are leading to more towns and cities introducing clean air zones (CAZ) and other low/no emission initiatives. This will lead to a rise in demand for sensor technology, such as those provided by Vortex, to help manage air quality and traffic enforcement, identify pollution hotspots, and improve public health.

Posted by: Dale Peters at 08:00

Tags: acquisition   startup   greentech   AI   environment   traffic   local+government  

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Tuesday 18 January 2022

FOUR DAYS LEFT to partner with InterSystems in Supply Chain Management

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Posted by: HotViews Editor at 06:00

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Monday 17 January 2022

Sensyne Health shares collapse after trading update

Sensyne HealthShares in Oxford-based clinical AI company Sensyne Health dropped more than 70% following Friday's trading update, in which it warned the company was unlikely to be able to continue to trade beyond early February without additional funding. At the time of writing, its share price stood at 23p, an 87% fall from its 2018 AIM IPO price of 175p.

It has been a turbulent time for the company. It was impacted by the collapse of Woodford Investment Management, which was Sensyne's largest institutional shareholder at the time. The company also attracted negative publicity concerned with the payment of IPO bonuses in 2018, leading to the replacement of Sensyne's CFO and claims of unfair dismissal (see Sensyne makes progress despite the challenges). In November 2021 it agreed settlement terms with the London Stock Exchange for a public censure and fine of £580k (discounted to £406k for early settlement) for the breaches of AIM Rules in relation to these bonuses.

Despite the challenges, Sensyne grew well in the year ended 30 April 2021 (see Sensyne make strong financial and strategic progress) and has continued to make progress in the current financial year. Revenue in its last financial year was £9.1m (FY20: £2.1m) and it now has 16 strategic research agreements with NHS Trusts and US health systems, providing a database of 48.3m patient records, and via its partnership with Phesi, it has access to a clinical trials database of a further 42.0m people. It is aiming to build an ethically-sourced real world dataset of c.100m patient records by the end of 2024.

In November, Sensyne announced it had started a formal sale process in order to pursue a potential management buyout and explore other buyer interest. Friday's update stated that a number of parties are now having discussions with the company but warned there is no certainty any offer will be made. But it needs to move quickly.

As of 12 January, the company's cash position stood at £2.8m and it is pursuing a substantial debtor for monies due under contract. The company has a non-binding term sheet with a number of its institutional shareholders to provide £6.35m of capital in the form of a loan note (with an additional £5m, which may be provided by mutual consent) to finance the business as it awaits the outcome of the sale process. Although it believes this financing will proceed to completion in the near term, without it the business will cease trading.

The company has undoubted potential, and although potential does not equal success, with the pandemic heightening demand for clinical data and accelerating interest in AI analytical tools, the company is likely to find a new home.

Posted by: Dale Peters at 09:42

Tags: funding   mbo   shares   AI   healthcare   trading+update  

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Monday 17 January 2022

HCL quarterly revenue growth hits 12 year high

hclThird quarter financial results from HCL Technologies show the firm had an incredibly positive period. Growth in Q3 over Q2 hit +7.6% (the highest recorded in the last 46 quarters) and +15.0% year-on-year (constant currency). The EBIT margin was 24.2%.

Rates varied by segment, however. Products & Platforms segment led the charge with +24.5%, followed by Engineering and R&D Services (+8.3%), and IT & Business Services (+4.7%). Total Contract Value (TCV) in Services was +63% to $1.9bn, fuelled by eight net new large Services deal wins. The firm also says there was a “significant” number of small deal wins.

In November, HCL announced its Euroclear deal following Q2 results in the previous month when it benefitted from an “acceleration” in application modernisation and cloud transformation deals.

In Q3, Europe sat nestled in the middle in terms of growth. The region saw revenue increase 12.0% yoy and +9.1% qoq. America was +15.0% yoy and the Rest of the world was 25.8%. In terms of the verticals, growth momentum was led by Lifesciences & Healthcare (+21.3%), Technology & Services (+18.1%), Energy, and Utilities & Public Services (+14.8%).

Progress continued outside of the finances with the addition of more than 10,000 staff. It has also scaled up its dedicated AWS unit with more training for professionals and launched a set of healthcare and life sciences solutions with Google Cloud.

Alongside the good organic growth, HCL has announced a couple of European acquisitions. In Hungary, it has acquired Starschema (for $42.5m) to boost its capabilities and solutions in Data Engineering and nearshore Eastern European presence. It’s also buying a 51% stake in German IT consulting company Gesellschaft für Banksysteme GmbH.

Revenue is expected to grow double digits in constant currency for FY22; the EBIT margin expected to be between 19%-21% for the year.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan at 09:40

Tags: results   acquisition  

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Monday 17 January 2022

Mobile training startup EduMe travels further with new funding

logoRemote learning has come a long, long way since the early days of CBT (Computer based Training), which was primarily aimed at geographically dispersed desk-based employees, mainly on account of the fact that the ‘technology du jour’ was desktop-based.

Hand-held, mobile devices ushered in the era of mobile training for remote workforces, which gained even more traction with the rise of the ‘gig’ economy. And then came Covid.

This is all by way of prelude to the news that Chiswick-based mobile training startup, EduMe, has scored a further $20m in a Series B funding round led by Prosus with participation from Workday Ventures. Series A lead investor Valo Ventures also participated.

EduMe has thankfully dropped the ‘Workforce Success’ strapline that featured at the time of the Series A round (see ‘Workforce Success’ start-up EduMe finds funding success) – replacing it with the DWISOTT (does what it says on the tin) styled ‘Mobile Training for your Deskless Workforce’.

Founded in 2016 by serial entrepreneur (and ex-Swedish Armed Forces Marine Sergeant) Jacob Waern, EduMe is another terrific example of a UK startup that has successfully broken in to the US market (witness Workforce’s interest).

Right time, right place, right product - and right backers.

Posted by: Anthony Miller at 09:18

Tags: funding   startup  

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Monday 17 January 2022

Backers boost Cognism to find more sales leads

logoWe last commented on nominally London HQ’d, but Macedonia-based lead generation software startup, Cognism, on its $12m Series B funding round back in March 2020 (see Prospect generator Cognism raises again).

Since then, Cognism, which was founded in 2015, raised a further $12.5m a year later, and has just closed $87.5m Series C round led by new backers Viking Global Investors and Blue Cloud Ventures alongside follow-on investors AXA Venture Partners, Swisscom Ventures and Volution.

This is serious dosh, and it looks like founders James Isilay (CEO) and Stjepan Buljat (CTO) retain control of the business, so this is a great result.

Posted by: Anthony Miller at 08:43

Tags: funding   startup  

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Monday 17 January 2022

Mindtree continues to run hot

LogoThe blistering pace of expansion set by Mindtree during H122 showed no sign of slowing during the third quarter. Revenue for the three months ending 31st December jumped by 34% yoy at constant currency to $366.4m. Profitability again improved with EBIT margin hitting 19.2% for the period up by 100 bps qoq.

From a vertical industry perspective, the Mindtree’s Retail, CPG & Manufacturing and Travel, Transportation & Hospitality sector groupings, together accounting for a third of total turnover, performed particularly well during the quarter. The sales in these units were up yoy by 52% and 56% respectively. The UK was the fastest growing of the company’s regions in Q3 with revenue here up by a thumping 64% yoy to $35.5m.

In common with its larger offshore rivals, Mindtree has also seen the level of employee turnover continuing to increase as FY22 has progressed. The last twelve month staff attrition rate rose to almost 22% at the end of 2021, both up from 17.7% in Q2 and approaching double the number a year earlier. That the company is, despite this, maintaining such strong growth on both the top and bottom lines is no mean feat. With the order book for the last quarter up some 15% yoy to $358m, moreover, Mindtree appears set fair for a very impressive FY22.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison at 08:31

Tags: results   offshore   systemsintegration  

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Monday 17 January 2022

CentralNic ahead of expectations for the full year

CentralNicFull year trading update out this morning from Internet domain name and web services provider CentralNic, points towards strong growth across the board for the Group.

CentralNic’s focus has been to look to rapidly build scale through multiple acquisitions (see its latest here) and organic growth in areas that deliver high recurring revenue and high cash conversion. It is a strategy that continues to serve the company well as it matures as a business, with today’s update outlining expected full year revenues of $410m – an increase of c.70% from the previous financial year. 

Acquisitions are also helping drive organic growth which is expected to increase year on year by 37%. Profitability is also moving rapidly in the right direction with adjusted EBITDA expected of around $45m – an increase of 47% from the previous financial year. Cash generation also increased to $55.6m from $28.7m, whilst net debt declined to $76m from $85m, notwithstanding the $19m spent on the acquisitions of SafebrandsWando and NameAction.

CentralNic has had a good twelve months with results likely to be well above market expectations having already been revised up during the year. Full year results are out on 28th February when we will provide deeper analysis.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick at 08:25

Tags: domainservices   tradingupdate  

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Monday 17 January 2022

Mayfair ties up adtech LoopMe

logoThe clue as to the location of nominally London-headquartered adtech startup LoopMe’s beating heart is to be found on the Contact page on its website; the list begins with New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and San Francisco before you get to London and Manchester. Oh, and Atlanta and Boston too as well as Toronto, Singapore and Ukraine.

Perhaps inevitably, then, private equity has taken a great interest – literally – in the business, with news that London-based Mayfair Equity Partners has acquired a 60% stake in LoopMe with an investment of $120m, pitching the startup’s valuation at close to $200m. LoopMe founders Stephen Upstone and Marco van de Bergh, along with ‘wider management’ stay on, as does Series C backer BGF, who led a $17m raise back in October 2018 (see BGF feeds back $17m to adtech LoopMe).

After closing 2020 with a net profit of $6.4m on revenues of $61.8m – 36% up on 2019 – LoopMe grew even faster in 2021, mooting revenues approaching $100m, most of which derives from the US.

Haven’t they done well!

Posted by: Anthony Miller at 08:17

Tags: acquisition   funding   startup  

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Monday 17 January 2022

JUST FIVE DAYS LEFT. Don't miss the chance to partner with InterSystems!

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Posted by: HotViews Editor at 06:00

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Friday 14 January 2022

Newsflare brightens with new funding

logoIt’s been a long time between funding rounds for London-based video monetisation platform, Newsflare, which has just closed a £5m Series B investment led by Foresight Group together with existing investor Edge Investments. Newsflare’s last raise was a £2.4m round in 2016 (see Newsflare gets close to the Edge for £2.4m).

Founded in 2011 by ex-Clear Cell exec Jon Cornwell, Newsflare lets you upload your video clips to its platform which can then be licenced, typically by media organisations, for a fee. Depending on how your video is used, Newsflare suggests that you could earn from £5 p.m. if used in an ad campaign, or upwards from £25 as a ‘direct’ sale for a fixed term. Newsflare takes a 55% cut of the fee.

According to the PR, Newsflare ‘has returned over US$11 million to individual filmers, mainly people with smartphones in the right place at the right time’. This implies lifetime revenues of some $25m, which it must be said seems rather modest.

Anyway, if you want some ideas how to make some dosh with your mobile, Newsflare’s hottest selling videos include ‘Scottish granddad takes up skateboarding at age 82’. I assume filmed by grandson with one eye on the will?

Posted by: Anthony Miller at 09:34

Tags: funding   startup  

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Friday 14 January 2022

Positive cloud readings from SAP Q4/FY21 prelims

SAP logoWe can envisage happy faces at SAP this morning based on preliminary Q4 and FY21 results that show convincing cloud progress. 

Preliminary figures indicate that In Q4 (to 31 December 2021) cloud revenue rose 28% yoy (24% cc) to €2.61bn with strong execution across the cloud portfolio, including S/4HANA cloud where the backlog increased 84%. Importantly, much of the S/4HANA cloud performance gain was due to adoption of “RISE with SAP” which aims to ease cloud adoption and deliver results through outcome-driven services from both SAP and partners. SAP is still on its journey however as even with a 65% increase, S/4HANA cloud revenue was €329m. Total revenue for the quarter is expected to be €7.98bn, which would be a respectable 6% increase. Cloud revenue was c.33% of total revenue.

Cloud progress was clear across the full year too, with SAP reaching the high end of its revised 2021 cloud revenue outlook, up 17% (19% cc) to €9.42bn, including S/4HANA cloud revenue of €1.09bn, a strong 46% increase. Total revenue saw a modest 2% increase however, to €27.84bn. Cloud revenue represented c.34% of total revenue across the year.

Operating profits were impacted by share based compensation expenses related to the Qualtrics IPO, resulting in a 45% decline in Q4 to €1.47bn and a 30% across the year to €4.66bn.

There will be more context when the full results are released on 27 January but so far the preliminaries indicate confident cloud performance which is on an upward trajectory (see SAP: cloud driven Q321 prelims provide welcome contrast to last year and SAP debuts RISE, IPO's Qualtrics, acquires BPO, releases FY results - phew), putting SAP on the pathway to its FY22 cloud revenue outlook of €11.5bn-€11.85bn (non-IFRS cloud revenue at constant currencies) which would be a 23% to 26% improvement on FY21. At the start of 2021 SAP shook up its leadership team as it prepared to play a major cloud card during the year; based on these prelims, it is winning. 

Posted by: Angela Eager at 09:27

Tags: cloud   software   tradingupdate  

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Friday 14 January 2022

Overton to lead BT's "Division X"

BTAs telecoms giant BT Group continues its long-term transformation, Marc Overton (pictured below) has been appointed as the Managing Director of the organisation's recently created ‘Division X’. Overton will officially join BT on 14 February 2022, working within BT’s Enterprise business.

BT’s Division X has been established effectively as an internal incubator, in order to help the organisation to develop and scale impactful customer propositions that leverage technologies such as 5G Private Networks, IoT, and Edge Computing. In this way, BT hopes to play a greater in the digital transformation of a variety of high growth industries, including healthcare, transport and logistics, putting BT at the heart of building the UK’s economic recovery.

Marc OvertonOverton is joining BT after just over 4 years at Sierra Wireless, where he was Chief Solutions Officer. BT’s new recruit was previously Managing Director of Global Innovation and Sales for US IoT startup, Cisco Jasper and is also a Fiserv/First Data alumnus.

BT has been beefing up its innovation credentials of late, as the current phase of its £1.3bn, 5-year transformation programme continues. The initiative is designed to modernise the business and its technology, whilst delivering annualised savings of £2bn by March 2025. In January 2021 the group announced the creation of a new Digital business unit to help deliver further technology innovation to the company and its clients (see: BT restructure to accelerate digital adoption).

Posted by: Jon C Davies at 08:45

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Friday 14 January 2022

ONE WEEK LEFT for the chance to partner with InterSystems!

Calling

Posted by: HotViews Editor at 06:00

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