Category: Europe

June 11, 2019 Off

Uber rival Bolt returns to London 21 months after a TfL investigation shut it down

By Jill T Frey

Bolt, the Uber rival formerly known as Taxify, is taking a significant step this week in its effort to build out its transportation-on-demand business across the biggest cities in Europe and Africa, which currently covers 25 million users in 30 countries and 100 cities: it’s finally opening for business again in London, the biggest ride-hailing market in Europe.

“Finally” and “again” are the operative words here: the Tallinn-based company had launched in London as far back as September 2017 — nearly two years ago — only to shut down its services after three days, when Transport for London, the city’s transportation regulator, started to investigate the terms of its license.

It turned out that not all was right in the state of Estonia . To roll out its services more quickly, Taxify (as it was then known) had acquired a London firm with a license valid until … Read the rest

June 10, 2019 Off

The Finalists for The Europas Awards for European tech startups is released

By Jill T Frey

The The Europas Awards for European Tech Startups is coming, and today it releases its final shortlist after an intense round of public voting and judges’ delioberations. The awards will be held on 27 June 2019, in London, U.K. and TechCrunch is once more the exclusive media sponsor of the awards, alongside new “tech, culture & society” event creator The Pathfounder.

The awards cover 20 categories, including new additions such as cover AgTech / FoodTech, SpaceTech, GovTech and Mobility Tech. Attendees, nominees and winners will get discounts to TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin, later this year.

The Europas Awards results are based on voting by expert judges and the industry itself. But key to the event itself is that there are no “off-limits areas” at The Europas, so attendees can mingle easily with VIPs. Grab your tickets here before prices go up!

The awards this year will be in … Read the rest

June 10, 2019 Off

Luxembourg to get €100M investment from Chinese payments startup Pingpong

By Jill T Frey

For financial services firms looking to enter Europe, Luxembourg has historically been a popular anchoring point for its political and economic stability as well as a favorable regulatory environment. Another bucketload of capital is coming to the country after Chinese fintech startup Pingpong announced to invest more than €100 million ($113 million) in Luxembourg in the coming years.

Founded in 2014, Pingpong has been celebrated by its home city Hangzhou — also Alibaba’s backyard — as a pioneer in the country’s booming cross-border ecommerce sector. Backed by one of China’s largest investment banks CICC, the startup collects payments for Chinese exporters selling through Amazon, Wish, Shopee, Newegg and some other 14 ecommerce platforms around the world, which means clearing local regulatory hurdles is key to its business.

Its European ambition does not stop with Luxembourg. Luo Yonglong, a partner at Pingpong, said at a Saturday event that within three years, … Read the rest

June 10, 2019 Off

Wire collaborates with EY for on-premise end-to-end encrypted messaging app

By Jill T Frey

End-to-end encrypted messaging app and service Wire announced a partnership with accounting and consulting company EY. Essentially, Wire is providing an on-promise version of its messaging service so that EY can control the servers and use it for their communication needs.

Both companies announced the deal a few weeks ago, and I talked with Wire and EY executives about the thinking behind this implementation.

“It’s very hard to monetize [Wire] on the consumer market,” Wire CEO Morten Brøgger told me. The company thinks it'll never become a big messaging app with hundreds of millions of users — that ship has sailed. That's why the company launched a team messaging product a couple of years ago.

Teams can sign up to Wire and use it as a sort of Slack replacement with end-to-end encryption on messages, files, calls, etc. The company uses a software-as-a-service approach and charges €4 to €6 per … Read the rest

June 10, 2019 Off

Spacemaker scores $25M Series A to let property developers use AI

By Jill T Frey

Spacemaker, a Norway-based startup that’s created AI software to help property developers and architects make better design decisions, has picked up $25 million in Series A funding.

The round is jointly led by Atomico and Northzone, with participation from investors in property and construction tech including Danish property developer NREP, Nordic property developer OBOS, and U.K. real estate technology fund Round Hill Ventures. A number of earlier investors including Norway’s Construct Venture also followed on.

Described as “the world’s first” AI-assisted design and construction simulation software for the property development sector, Spacemaker claims to enable property development professionals, such as real estate developers, architects, and urban planners, to quickly generate and evaluate the optimal environmental design for any multi-building residential development. To achieve this, the Spacemaker software crunches various data including physical data, regulations, environmental factors and others preferences.

“Today developers and urban planners plan sites largely ‘by hand’ … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

Fintech platform Synapse raises $33M to build ‘the AWS of banking’

By Jill T Frey

Synapse, a San Francisco-based startup that operates a platform enabling banks and fintech companies to easily develop financial services, has closed a $33 million Series B to develop new products and go after international expansion.

The investment was led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from existing backers Trinity Ventures and Core Innovation Capital . Synapse — which recently rebranded (slightly) from “SynapseFi” — announced a $17 million Series A back in September 2018, so this deal takes it to $50 million raised to date.

The startup was founded in 2014 by Bryan Keltner and India-born CEO Sankaet Pathak, who came to the U.S. to study but grew frustrated at the difficulty of opening a bank account without U.S. social security history. Inspired by his struggles, Synapse, which operated under the radar prior to that Series A deal, is focused on democratizing financial services.

Its approach to doing that is … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

Depop, a social app targeting millennial and Gen Z shoppers, bags $62M, passes 13M users

By Jill T Frey

The rising popularity of omni-channel commerce — selling to customers wherever they happen to be spending time online — has spawned an army of shopping tools and platforms that are giving legacy retail websites and marketplaces a run for their money. Now, one of the faster growing of these is announcing an impressive round of funding to stay on trend and continue building its business.

Depop, a London startup that has built an app for individuals to post and sell (and mainly resell) items to groups of followers by way of its own and third-party social feeds, has closed a Series C round of $62 million led by General Atlantic. Previous investors HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, Balderton Capital, Creandum, Octopus Ventures, TempoCap and Sebastian Siemiatkowski, founder and CEO of Swedish payments company Klarna, all also participated.

The funding will be used in a couple of areas. First, to continue building … Read the rest

June 5, 2019 Off

Alibaba, Mail.Ru, Megafon form AliExpress Russia JV to double down on e-commerce in CIS

By Jill T Frey

After announcing plans in September 2018 to build a joint venture together, today Russian internet giant Mail.ru,  Megafon and China’s Alibaba announced that the deal has closed. With support also from Russia’s sovereign wealth fund RDIF, the three are forming a new operation called AliExpress Russia JV — which will include business assets and investment from all three — to double down on building e-commerce services to serve consumers and businesses in Russia and neighboring countries. The joint effort is estimated to have a value in the region of $2 billion.

The operation has several moving pieces, which is one reason why it’s taken nearly eight months to bring it all together and close the deal:

  • Alibaba Group will invest $100 million and contribute AliExpress Russia into the joint venture. Alibaba says this includes Alibaba Group’s current Russia-based domestic and cross-border operations of the global retail marketplace business of AliExpress.
Read the rest
June 5, 2019 Off

The Stanford connections behind Latin America’s multibillion-dollar startup renaissance

By Jill T Frey

The houses along the tree-lined blocks of Josina Avenue in Palo Alto, with their big back yards, swimming pools and driveways are about as far removed from the snarls of traffic, sputtering diesel engines, and smoggy air of South America’s major metropolises as one can get.

But it was in one of those houses, about a twelve-minute bicycle ride from Stanford University, that the seed was planted for what has become a renaissance in technology entrepreneurship in Latin America.

Back in 2010, when Adeyemi Ajao, Carlo Dapuzzo, and Juan de Antonio were students at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business they could not predict that they would be counted among the vanguard of investors and entrepreneurs transforming Latin America’s startup economy.

At the time, Ajao was negotiating the sale of his first business, the Spanish social networking company, Tuenti, to Telefonica (in what would be a $100 million exit). Carlo Dapuzzo … Read the rest

June 5, 2019 Off

Google appeals $1.7BN EU AdSense antitrust fine

By Jill T Frey

Like clockwork, Google has filed a legal appeal against the €1.49 billion ($1.7BN) antitrust penalty the European Commission slapped on its search ad brokering business three months ago.

The Telegraph reported late yesterday that the appeal had been lodged in the General Court of the European Union in Brussels.

A Google spokesperson confirmed the appeal has been filed but declined to comment further.

Reached for comment, a Commission spokesperson told us: “The Commission will defend its decision in Court.”

The AdSense antitrust decision is the third fine for Google under the Commission’s current antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager — who also issued a $5BN penalty for anti-competitive behaviors attached to Android last summer; following a $2.7BN fine for Google Shopping antitrust violations, in mid 2017.

Google is appealing both earlier penalties but has also made changes to how it operates Google Shopping and Android in Europe in the … Read the rest