At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking it had been another fairly rosy year for tech firms raising cash in the Capital.
London’s start-ups bagged £16bn throughout the year; the capital now boasts more high growth firms and ‘unicorns’ than many European countries; and the UK’s tech industry on the whole sailed past a collective $1tn valuation. London comfortably retained its spot as the premier tech destination in Europe.
But let’s be frank: this was the year the good times came to a close. A decade-long funding frenzy fuelled by low interest rates and wide-eyed growth-hunting investors collided with reality as recession hit.
Across the year, UK tech firms raised $29.3bn, a sharp fall from the $41.3bn the year before, according to data this from Dealroom for the Digital Economy Council.
But, there was of course, some glitter amongst the gloom. London’s tech sector is a resilient one and a host of standout firms were able to shrug off the downturn and bag bumper sums of cash.
Here are some of our picks.
Sum Up – $560m
London-based payments provider SumUp shrugged off the downturn over summer to close a mammoth round valuing it at around €8bn.
Bain Capital Tech Opportunities led the round with backing from investors including BlackRock, btov Partners and Centerbridge.
But even that hefty capital injection bore the marks of the downturn: SumUp had reportedly been angling for a $20bn valuation just months earlier.
Checkout.com – $1bn
Checkout.com became the UK’s most valuable startup at $40bn with this mammoth round closed in January, before recessionary fears fully began to bite.
Altimeter, Dragoneer, and the Qatar Investment Authority all threw their weight behind the round as Checkout.com geared up for an ambitious US expansion.
Guillaume Pousaz and team will be fairly thankful they filled the coffers when they did…
Paddle – $200m
This SaaS infrastructure firm founded by wunderkind Christian Owens sailed past unicorn status in May with a bumper round spearheaded by US investment giant KKR.
Paddle then put the cash to use that same month and snapped up US firm ProfitWell.
Nothing – $200m
The UK is not known for its consumer tech. That’s why Carl Pei turned heads this year when his phonemaker Nothing bagged a cool $70m and rolled out the UK’s first smartphone.
The start-up is set to put the cash to use and roll out a range of new eye-catching products in the years ahead. We’ll be watching closely.
Thought Machine – $160m
Cloud banking firm Thought Machine more than doubled its valuation to $2.7bn in May as it won the backing of a host of big name backers including Morgan Stanley.
Thought Machine already counts the US bank among a cream-of-the-crop client base including Lloyds Banking Group and JPMorgan, and bosses said they were set to use the cash to take on more.