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Mercia on soccer kick with Realtime Games funding
11 Dec 2017
Predictions 2018 – Business Process Services
11 Dec 2017
TechMarketView research theme 2018: Breaking the Boundaries
11 Dec 2017
Save the date: TechMarketView Evening 2018!
11 Dec 2017
MishiPay checks out £1.6m funding
11 Dec 2017
First Derivatives buys to develop telco vertical
11 Dec 2017
Imperial’s Touchstone joins Dearly Departed
11 Dec 2017
Bitcoins - "Buy shovels..."
09 Dec 2017
** New Research ** Alibaba Cloud and Doob highlight Vodafone network/cloud expertise
08 Dec 2017
New funds to help Graduway build alumni networks
08 Dec 2017
Deep chat analysis helps Chattermill secure funds
08 Dec 2017
Huddle keeping schtum as CEO, COO & CTO quit
08 Dec 2017
Avora's next gen BI service secures funding
08 Dec 2017
Subdued month for European tech M&A
08 Dec 2017
Holway on Bitcoins
08 Dec 2017
Backers insure Cytora’s risk engine for £4.4m
08 Dec 2017
* NEW RESEARCH * New high for UK-Irish tech funding
08 Dec 2017
Eighth Enterprise Awards set for 27 June 2018
08 Dec 2017
MyTop revisited ten years on...
07 Dec 2017
Doleful H1 for Imaginatik
07 Dec 2017
Intuit lines up time sheet TSheet for acquisition
07 Dec 2017
IMImobile Targets NHS Efficiency Drive
07 Dec 2017
RM trading ahead of expectations
07 Dec 2017
Henchman provides tonic for flat Jinn
07 Dec 2017
*OUT NOW* UK Public Sector Market Trends & Forecasts to 2020
06 Dec 2017
**NEW RESEARCH** Business Process Services Supplier Prospects 2018
06 Dec 2017
Backer calls in loan on posh e-pawnbroker Borro
06 Dec 2017
Analysing Oxford Metrics
06 Dec 2017
Payday lender Oakam wins victory loan
06 Dec 2017
SysGroup without CEO but remains “confident”
06 Dec 2017
Fresh funding for Anaplan
06 Dec 2017
How do you teach Computing without computers?
06 Dec 2017
Maintel revises expectations after contract wind downs
06 Dec 2017
Concepta marrs Mercia’s emerging stars
06 Dec 2017
*NEW RESEARCH* Castleton Technology: The post integration journey
05 Dec 2017
iomart growth ticks down slightly in H1
05 Dec 2017
Strong first half for PCI-PAL
05 Dec 2017
Albert elbows out old timer online ad business
05 Dec 2017
Apexx raises US$4m for its payment gateway
05 Dec 2017
WANdisco in demand
05 Dec 2017
Edinburgh’s TravelNest gets £3m to aid home rentals
05 Dec 2017
Opportunities in Research – Emerging Technology Sector
05 Dec 2017
Castleton buys and builds down under
04 Dec 2017
Shepherd gets dosh to watch over mechanical flock
04 Dec 2017
RhythmOne: programming change
04 Dec 2017
MXC shuffles top deck as mitigates losses
04 Dec 2017
Communisis appoints CFO
04 Dec 2017
Murthy “happy” with new Infosys CEO
04 Dec 2017

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Monday 11 December 2017

Mercia on soccer kick with Realtime Games funding

logoClearly there are some keen football fans among the investment managers at Mercia Technologies, given its propensity to invest in soccer-related games developers.

A couple of years ago Mercia kicked some dosh at Preston-based games developer Soccer Manager (see here) and now Mercia has backed London-based Realtimes Games to the tune of £600k. Founed in 2013, the startup provides a real-time fantasy football game called UFL (Ultimate Fan Live) which apparently mirrors every player’s move during a match (which for me begs the question, where’s the fantasy element?).

Anyway, I’m more a snooker fan myself (go Ronnie!).

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:11' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Monday 11 December 2017

Predictions 2018 – Business Process Services

Breaking the boundaries graphicTechMarketViews’s theme for 2018 is “Breaking the Boundaries” which fits neatly with what we expect to see in UK Business Process Services (BPS) next year.

IP led services of BPaaS and platform based BPS are already breaking down barriers between BPS providers and enterprise software and application services players. Partnering is becoming an ever-common feature with suppliers and buyers increasingly moving away from a traditional outsourced relationship towards one based on shared risk and reward, pursuing mutually agreed outcomes. Consulting and automation technologies are breaking the boundaries of the front, middle and back offices, allowing processes to be redesigned and integrated throughout an organisation.

We see specifically the following factors playing out in 2018:

Brexit - A ‘glass half-full’ for BPS? - At a very minimum the Government will need new services dealing with immigration, customs, trade and agriculture. These services will need to be scoped and procured very quickly and will lean heavily on SITS providers to make this happen. This provides the opportunity for suppliers to bring ‘ideas to the table’ and contribute to solving some of these challenges.

Partnering replaces outsourcing - the move to strategic BPS - Relationships between suppliers and buyers continue to evolve with new commercial and operating models becoming prevalent. Relationships are less about outsourcing and more about creating genuinely transformational partnerships.

The maturing of Intelligent Automation - Consulting companies and BPS players are partnering with and acquiring capability across a range of technologies to develop Intelligent Automation ecosystems. As the technology matures you can expect to see greater consolidation and integration between consulting capability, RPA and AI. An integrated approach offers a genuinely transformational environment.

‘Virtual BPO’ - a game changer for UK BPS - Combining strategic consulting expertise and intelligent automation technologies will lead to the creation of ‘virtual BPO’ players – a potential game changer for BPS.  ‘Virtual BPO’ has no legacy of labour intensive operating models with which to contend and can offer those clients who are ready for it a ‘blank sheet of paper’ for process redesign and delivery.

Moving beyond the ‘mega deal’ with commodity services - Mega-deals within the UK BPS market will continue to remain in short supply and a marketplace moving towards smaller opportunities, with shorter contracts and greater flexibility, will require a more productised approach. This is already causing an increased focus on suppliers developing replicable propositions that are fast to deploy, technically simple, commercially easy to understand and deliver clients quick value.

GDPR – the risk and the reward - Some organisations have made good progress and have been gearing up for years but there remain many that are not fully prepared. With many of the issues and permissions already automated and integrated within existing business processes there is huge opportunity for BPS providers to help.

More detail on these predictions can be found in the research note Business Process Services Predictions 2018. Readers who don’t have a subscription can contact Deb Seth for details.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:06' - Tagged: bps   predictions  

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Monday 11 December 2017

TechMarketView research theme 2018: Breaking the Boundaries

Breaking the Boundaries graphicEvery year TechMarketView chooses a theme that we believe sets the tone for the key trends that will determine the shape of the UK tech market and the fortunes of its players for the year and beyond.

In 2016, we were all ‘Surfing the Waves of Disruption’ as competition—especially from new market entrants—forced the pace of digitalisation in traditional business enterprises, including the technology industry itself. Then in 2017, we were ‘Unlocking the Intelligence’; this theme acknowledged the complexity of true digitisation, involving the need to extract value from vast swathes of data created by both legacy and ‘change the business applications’.

In 2018, TechMarketView’s research focus remains on digital transformation, as we watch the story further evolve. Our theme – Breaking the Boundaries – emphasises that, as organisations progress with their digital transformation agendas, they can no longer be insular. They must look beyond their organisational boundaries in ways that they never have before. To fully embrace the possibilities presented by digitalisation, enterprises and government organisations – and the ICT suppliers supporting them - must throw off the shackles limiting progression. They must look beyond their own four walls when it comes to skills & resources, to data, to technology, and to innovation.

With digital skills & resources scarce, creative ways to pull in digital talent must be considered. As well as traditional routes such as partnering (which need to become more innovative), that might also include the use of public freelance marketplaces or crowdsourcing. Such an approach will also allow the flexibility and agility to respond to rapidly changing digital requirements.

In a digital world, organisations are increasingly harnessing the power of data for competitive advantage. So, drawing on data from external sources – particularly if it is difficult for others to access – that can be exploited to advance organisational aims, is highly valuable. Those sources might be public, but they might also come from forming innovative – even exclusive - partnerships with data owners.

Gone are the days when all technology assets sat within internal datacentres. As organisations increasingly adopt as-a-service models, there is an increasing reliance on technology in the cloud. The internet-of-things adds another dimension. Now, the source of more and more data is the raft of sensors sitting on everything from shipping containers to street lights. As organisations adapt their modus operandi to take advantage of the data collected, they become increasingly reliant on third party technology sitting in far harsher, and less secure, environments than a server room. The supplier ecosystem within which ICT suppliers reside will become increasingly complex – with more potential points of failure.

And when it comes to organisations ensuring that their use of technology is advancing at an appropriate pace, innovation can also come from ‘outside’. For suppliers and end user organisations alike, drawing on ideas from academia, hackathons, or innovation hubs to keep ahead of the competition is increasingly common and will grow in popularity.

Crucially, to cope with these changes, our view is that traditional organisations – both end users and technology firms - must push their own boundaries culturally, and adopt an entirely different mindset. ‘Breaking the Boundaries has wide implications and the theme will be picked up in each of our research streams throughout the year ahead.

Over the next few days, TechMarketView’s Research Directors will be publishing the 2018 Predictions for their research focus areas: Enterprise Software, Infrastructure Services, Application Services, Business Process Services and in the verticals, Public Sector and Financial Services. They will each explain how our 2018 - Breaking the Boundaries - research theme applies to their area of the market. Today, we start with insight from our BusinessProcessViews Research Director, Marc Hardwick: see Predictions 2018: Business Process Services.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:00' - Tagged: predictions  

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Monday 11 December 2017

Save the date: TechMarketView Evening 2018!

TMVE imagesWe are delighted to announce that the 2018 Evening with TechMarketView will take place on Thursday 13th September 2018.

This will be our sixth annual TechMarketView Presentation and Dinner and in line with our 2018 theme we will of course be ‘Breaking the Boundaries’.

It promises to be another enjoyable evening of analyst insight and quality networking over drinks and dinner. The venue will once again be the magnificent Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in Portland Place, London.

So, mark your calendars now and email tx2 Events to express interest in the event and receive notification when tickets go on sale.

If your organisation would be interested in sponsorship opportunities at the 2018 event please contact Tola Sargeant for further details of the various packages available.

We look forward to seeing you at RIBA in September 2018! 

Posted by HotViews Editor at '08:48'

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Monday 11 December 2017

MishiPay checks out £1.6m funding

logoThere are ever-increasing ways for us to pay for our purchases through personal technologies – and London-based startup MishiPay has developed another. Basically, using your mobile you scan the barcode of things you want to buy and pay for them all through the app, stuff them in your bag and then walk out the shop without getting your collar felt – in theory at least.

This all depends on everything in the shop having an RFID tag, which MishiPay’s software automatically disables once the item is paid for, so it’s not necessarily a solution for every retailer – at least, not yet.

Founded in 2015, MishiPay has raised £1.6m in a seed funding round led by Nauta Capital. The startup is currently running proof-of-concept trials with a few European retailers, and is supported by a number of partners including Cisco.

I wonder if anyone is doing any research on the psychology of self-serve, self-pay systems? I can see how a shopper could easily be tempted into ‘picking and scanning’ without the reality check of seeing everything laid out at the checkout giving them time to reconsider a purchase. An opportunity to take impulse buying to new heights?

By the way, If you really want to know what’s happening in the vibrant UK Payments market, then you must read our latest FinancialServicesViews report, Understanding the UK Payments market. Contact our Client Services team (info@techmarketview.com) for more information.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:39' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Monday 11 December 2017

First Derivatives buys to develop telco vertical

logoFirst Derivatives, the supplier of fast Big Data solutions is continuing its development of vertical markets where its high-speed Kx database technology can support sophisticated and near real-time analytics.

A major plank of First Derivatives’ growth strategy is to hire, acquire and partner to infiltrate its approach, and database, into an increasing number of verticals ranging from retail to Formula One (See here and work back). The telco sector is a logical target. This vertical has a lot of data, an increasingly fickle customer base and a big problem about fraud and revenue assurance. Service quality and network optimisation are also key issues.

This time, FD is buying privately held Telconomics 09 S.L., a Spanish provider of telco analytics software. The outlay is small, at up to €2.5m and provides FD with a software platform to support network development and planning which will be added to FD’s existing Kx Telco solutions suite which supports operations and marketing.

Half-year results published in November showed revenue up 21%. This growth included 30% growth from its business in MarTech (Marketing Technology, supporting the retail sector), the company’s first foray away from its FinTech base. Pre-tax profits were down 10% due to product development and investment in new verticals.

The company looks to be building a sound base for sustainable growth and although this could mean a deferral of profits, it doesn’t seem to be harming the share price which is up 80% over the year.

Posted by Peter Roe at '08:28' - Tagged: acquisition   analytics   big+data   telco   M&A  

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Monday 11 December 2017

Imperial’s Touchstone joins Dearly Departed

logopicAs presaged in October, Touchstone (nee Imperial) Innovations, the AIM-listed, university-focused IP commercialisation business born of London’s Imperial College, delisted from AIM this morning after succumbing to a takeover bid by peer IP Group (see IPO vs IVO – Game, Set and Match).

Touchstone was a prolific investor in UK tech, and a keen support of TechMarketView ‘Little British Battlers’ Concirrus and Featurespace.

Let’s hope the new ‘whole’ will be greater than the sum of its parts!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '07:46' - Tagged: delisting  

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Saturday 09 December 2017

Bitcoins - "Buy shovels..."

BitMy article yesterday - Holway on Bitcoins - produced an interesting postbag. To those who asked “Should I buy -or sell - bitcoins?”, my answer is simple. Not only do I not give financial advice but a flutter on the 3.30pm @ Newbury might be a better bet…

As an aside, in my article I made the point that “just like in the Gold Rush, it might ultimately be that the real money is made by those making and selling the shovels!”. The Times today reinforced that point with an article entitled Bitcoin network ‘is using more energy than the world can sustain’. A report by Digiconomist ‘the cryptocurrency analytics company’ had claimed that the power consumed by computers mining for bitcoins was now 31TWh pa. The whole of Ireland uses just 23TWh pa. The article quotes ‘one facility in Beijing runs 25,000 machines in eight buildings with a daily energy bill of $40,000’.

That’s just the energy dimension. Just think of the orders to all those tech companies supplying the processing power. Eg chipmakers like Nvidia, Intel, AMD etc.

As I said ‘Buy shovels…’

Posted by Richard Holway at '12:05'

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Friday 08 December 2017

** New Research ** Alibaba Cloud and Doob highlight Vodafone network/cloud expertise

** New Research ** Alibaba Cloud and Doob highlight Vodafone network/cloud expertiseVodafone’s November analyst event saw a trio of its most valued customers line up to describe their experiences with the telco, including Chinese public cloud provider Alibaba Cloud, 3D modelling and digitisation specialist Doob and UK insurance company Admiral Insurance (see Vodafone reveals Admiral telematics tie up).

TechMarketView subscribers can read our HotViewsExtra report Alibaba Cloud and Doob highlight Vodafone network/cloud expertise to find out what they said and how Vodafone’s combination of connectivity and cloud hosting is supporting their European business expansion.

If you would like to access the report and are not currently a subscriber to our research, please contact Deb Seth.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '10:02' - Tagged: cloudservices   Vodafone   networkinfrastructure   AlibabaCloud   Doob  

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Friday 08 December 2017

New funds to help Graduway build alumni networks

Graduway logoUK-headquartered Graduway (Headhunter Systems Ltd) has raised $12.7m (c. £9.4m) in growth funding from Susquehanna Growth Equity (SGE).

Graduway develops a software platform designed to help education and non-profit organisations engage with their alumni and supporters. It launched in 2013 with $1.1m seed funding from BTG Pactual, Gigi Levy and RSL Venture Partners. The SGE deal, which represents Graduway's largest investment to date, follows $2m debt financing from SaaS Capital earlier this year.

The business intends to use the new funding to accelerate its already rapid growth through expansion of its US office, bringing in new employees across the organisation and continuing to invest in product development. Graduway claims over 500 customers in more than 40 different countries. These include high profile universities in the UK and USA, including University of Oxford, University College London, UCLA, and Johns Hopkins University.

As we discussed in UK Public Sector SITS Market Trends & Forecasts, universities are increasingly using technology to improve the recruitment and retention of students, but this extends to alumni management as well. Alumni funding is an important source of income for universities. The Ross-Case Report 2017 found that UK universities invested over £43m in alumni relations in 2015-16 and of the c.£1bn philanthropic income secured in that year, approximately 30% came from former students.

Posted by Dale Peters at '09:46' - Tagged: education   funding   startup   university  

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Friday 08 December 2017

Deep chat analysis helps Chattermill secure funds

logoThere’s no shortage of deep learning-based startups around and one of the latest to join the party is London-based Chattermill. The clue to what it does is in the name because it applies deep learning techniques to customer experience analysis, converting customer feedback into insight to support decision making. It has customers such as Transferwise, HelloFresh and Just Eat on its books.

It’s a good area to target as there is plenty of customer chatter available and deep learning algorithms are certainly greedy for data if they are to perform to their best. Chattermill's proposition has secured it £600,000 in seed funding from Entrepreneur First, Avonmore Developments and angel investors, including Jeff Kelisky, the CEO of Seedrs. This sum takes total investment to close to £1m - Entrepreneur First invested in the company back in 2015. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:34' - Tagged: funding   startup   software   machinelearning   machineintelligence  

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Friday 08 December 2017

Huddle keeping schtum as CEO, COO & CTO quit

Huddle logoWell, it seems the saga continues at collaboration software company, Huddle. I just happened to spot on my LinkedIn newsfeed that CEO Morten Brøgger had departed and joined secure messaging firm, Wire. Investigating, Business Insider came up trumps again – see Huddle CEO & CO quit three months after acquisition. It seems that its not just Huddle’s CEO that has quit; it’s also the COO – Rasmus Holst (who has also gone to Wire – as its Chief Revenue Officer) – and the CTO, Stuart Cochran (who has left to take up the same role at Bridge EU, a firm which matches students to university courses).

There’s plenty in TechMarketView’s research archive on the Huddle story so far – see Huddle sold; employee shareholders lose out, which we wrote just after the company was sold to San Francisco-based private equity firm Turn/River three months ago, and having spoken to Brøgger just prior. With this latest turn of events, there’s a familiar feel, i.e. according to Business Insider, “Huddle has not responded to a request for comment”. That means yet more uncertainty for clients, which will already have been a bit spooked by its financial troubles; have successors been appointed, and what is Huddle’s future? Looking at Companies House, Ninian Solutions (which trades as Huddle) should have filed its accounts for FY16 by end September. They are now overdue, as is its confirmation statements. It’s all adding up to a worrying picture.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:29' - Tagged: software   management   sme   collaboration   leadershipchanges  

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Friday 08 December 2017

Avora's next gen BI service secures funding

logoLondon-based Avora has secured £1.5m in funding from Crane Venture Partners and angel investors Steve Garnett and Peter Simon for its next gen BI and machine learning as a service offering.

Machine learning services come in all shapes, sizes and levels of sophistication, from the cloud platforms and libraries from Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft, IBM, to Salesforce’s Einstein, communities where developers can share and distribute their algorithms such as Algorithmia, through to more entry level all in one services such as those from Logical Glue and Actual Intelligence. This type of service - where the supplier takes on the task of applying algorithms to company data assets to produce output organisations can use - is becoming more popular and tackles the shortage of data science skills. Avora operates in this part of the market.

Avora aggregates data from multiple sources within a business, detecting anomalies and trends and alerting users to important changes. The proposition is clearly appealing as customers include Boohoo and Ocado and several other brand names. There are questions potential users of these type of services need to ask around integrations, normalisation and how unclean data is handled, as well as discerning whether the algorithms are appropriate for the individual companies’ data and desired outputs, but the types of services offered by the likes of Avora do make machine learning accessible to more organisations. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:12' - Tagged: funding   startup   software   machinelearning   machineintelligence  

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Friday 08 December 2017

Subdued month for European tech M&A

chartEuropean TMT M&A activity was more subdued in November with the number of deals 7% lower than the 2017 monthly average, according to latest data from rom corporate finance firm Regent Partners. The aggregate value of deals in November was also lower at $12b in November from $13b in October. Valuation multiples remain healthy with the aggregate Price/Sales ratio unchanged from October at 1.3x although the Price/EBITDA ratio was down from 10.9x in October to 10.0x.

In the UK, November was notable for acquisition of startups, including that of London-based, Accomable, a travel listing platform aimed at the disabled, by Airbnb (see Airbnb accommodates Accomable). Meanwhile, a few months after employee engagement and loyalty platform Perkbox raised more funding (see Perkbox gets further £6.5m backing from Draper Esprit), it went on to acquire London-based digital rewards platform startup, Loyalty Bay (see Perkbox claims digital rewards with Loyalty Bay). And we also lost another UK startup to the Chinese, with the acquisition of London-based social media startup, Twizoo, by Skyscanner, the Edinburgh-headquartered ‘unicorn’ flight search platform acquired a year ago for £1.4b by Chinese peer Ctrip.

Subscribers to the TechMarketView Foundation Service can read our regular quarterly summaries of corporate activity in the UK software and IT services sector in IndustryViews Corporate Activity, or just search on ‘acquisition’ in the UKHotViews archive.

For further information, please contact our Client Services team at info@techmarketview.com.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '08:37' - Tagged: acquisition  

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Friday 08 December 2017

Holway on Bitcoins

BitcoinA year ago you could have bought your loved one a Bitcoin for Christmas for <$1000. Now that Bitcoin might cost you $20,000. That is double what it was as recently as the start of Dec 17. Every media article on Bitcoin is littered with the word ‘Bubble’ and references to 'Tulips' and 'South Sea Bubbles'. References to the Dot.com Bubble are a bit far-fetched as valuations never rose anything like that of Bitcoin.

Last month I was told that the value invested in cryptocurrencies was then $245b. It’s probably nearer $500b now. An analysis had shown that most of the Bitcoin transactions to date were from speculators. Those few remaining transactions were mainly from drug dealers, ransom demanders and others wanting to hide their identities for nefarious reasons .

The only way in which the number of Bitcoins can be increased is by mining by computer. Apparently vast sums are now being invested in data centres to undertake this mining. Just like the Gold Rush, it might ultimately be that the real money is made by those making and selling the shovels!

In 1999, I remember serious financiers and fund managers all knew that internet prices were in a bubble. But they didn’t want to be the only ones not at the party. They knew the music would end someday but didn’t want to be on the dancefloor - or, to mix my metaphors ‘holding the baby’ - when it did. I get similar vibes now as reports show that more serious financiers and financial institutions are now entering the Bitcoin market.

I have little doubt that the current Bitcoin Bubble will burst.

However, the Blockchain concept behind it is sound. Just like in the dot.com era, the ‘Froth Stocks’ collapsed but the internet went on to even greater success than any speculator at the time had envisaged. Just like the Wild West, Blockchain needs some globally recognised  regulations before it becomes mainstream.

You have been warned…

Posted by Richard Holway at '08:36'

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Friday 08 December 2017

Backers insure Cytora’s risk engine for £4.4m

logoWhen I wrote about Cambridge University spin-out Cytora’s Series A funding round about a year ago (see Investors help Cytora 'unlock the intelligence'), the startup had the lofty ambition to ‘generate data to help companies measure change in the world’, using AI and machine learning to ‘collect raw data from millions of different web sources, detect and geolocate real-world events in real time.

Cytora has since focused its risk analysis endeavours specifically on the insurance sector, to which end its has raised a further £4.4m, backed by insurer QBE and Starr Global Holdings, chaired by ex-AIG CEO, Hank Greenberg. Cambridge Innovation Capital also participated, as did existing investor Parkwalk Advisors, along with other angels. Cytora is preparing to deploy its risk engine initially with its insurer backers.

Focus is good.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:11' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Friday 08 December 2017

* NEW RESEARCH * New high for UK-Irish tech funding

chartThe steady increase in venture capital funding of UK and Irish technology companies continued in Q3 to set a new record, according to the latest data from corporate finance firm, Ascendant. During Q3, £1.69b was invested in 217 deals of more than £0.5m by 268 investors at an average deal size of £7.8m. This represents a 34% yoy increase in the number of deals and a 130% yoy increase in the total quarterly value.

The latest edition of IndustryViews Venture Capital includes nearly 30 pages summarising significant venture funding in UK tech companies during the quarter.

Subscribers to the TechMarketView Foundation Service can download our latest quarterly review of UK software and IT services M&A in the just released report, IndustryViews Venture Capital Q3 2017.

For further information, please contact our Client Services team at info@techmarketview.com.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '07:40' - Tagged: funding  

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Thursday 07 December 2017

MyTop revisited ten years on...

MytopI’m sure most of you get reminders of your posts from ‘X’ years ago via Facebook. I suspect few of you get reminders from TEN years ago. Afterall, Facebook had <100m users then and most were in the US. The iPhone had only just been launched and Nokia and Blackberry ruled the mobile world.

But today I had a reminder of my MyTop post from 10 years ago. Actually I had introduced MyTop at my Prince’s Trust ICT Leaders Presentation at BT Tower in Sept 2007 but had posted it to my Facebook account in Dec 07 when I had written an ‘Open Letter’ to Mark Zukerberg. See MyTop - It could be you! He never replied.

 ‘MyTop’ was all about users having a ‘portal’ - one ‘mobile portal’ or 'MobiTop' - to access everything they might ever want to do. The ‘Closed Garden’. The One App you signed into and never left. Facebook could really have been ‘IT'.

I was reminded of this on a recent visit to Silicon Valley in California when we discussed the use of WeChat in China. WeChat is now the ‘MyTop’ in China. Users never leave it! WeChat has nearly 1b monthly active users and is owned by TenCent. It is called the Chinese “App for Everything”. Many Chinese make all their payments via WeChat. The person I was speaking to couldn’t buy a cup of coffee in China because he didn’t have WeChat enabled!

The ‘MyTop’ concept is hugely powerful. I now do all my ‘purchase’ searches in Amazon - not Google. Just think of the power Amazon could have if it became ‘MyTop’. But, it is a long, long way from being the ONLY site I use.

If only Zuckerberg had taken my advice back in 2007, he could have been even richer - even more successful and powerful - than he is already. 

Posted by Richard Holway at '15:53'

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Thursday 07 December 2017

Doleful H1 for Imaginatik

logoImaginatik didn’t have a great end to its last financial year and disappointing H1 results for the innovation software and consultancy company show the current year isn’t going too well either. In the six months to September 30, revenue dropped to £1.73m from the £1.84m of the year ago period and while sales were loaded towards Q2 – providing visibility into H2 – deferred revenue also fell back to £2.62m (vs. £3.35m). The loss after tax deepened to £0.37m vs. £0.26m.

Bright spots were customer renewals, 10 new customers signed during the period (vs. 4 last H1) and the first customers signed up through its channel partner who came on board towards the end of 2016 (3 of the 10 new customers). The overall momentum has apparently carried through to H2.

Due to the nature of the business, there is a lag between sales and revenue at Imaginatik and with its revenue levels this can make life difficult. The partnership with the still unnamed global IT and Services supplier is starting to generate business though so there is scope for improvement and greater volume of business – that is something for the company to build on. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:57' - Tagged: results   software   consultancy  

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Thursday 07 December 2017

Intuit lines up time sheet TSheet for acquisition

logoIntuit is putting up $340m (cash and other considerations) to acquire time tracking and scheduling provider TSheets in order to help build out the QuickBooks ecosystem.

It should be an easy slot-in as TSheets is already integrated with QuickBooks and the two companies have 12,000 shared customers. What is more surprising is that this will be one of Intuit’s largest acquisitions although with estimated revenue of around $40m (according to Forbes) TSheets will not have a material effect on Intuit’s 2018 revenue. The deal is not expected to close until H2 2018.

In our view, the rationale for the acquisition is part of the work to build out QuickBooks as an open platform, a goal that was emphasised when we met the Intuit exec team earlier this year. As part of that, Intuit also aims to bring together the most important applications its customers use and to personalise user experiences and reduce manual work by leveraging customer data. TSheets ticks those boxes –as well as international expansion (see Intuit hangs on to small business, ecosystem and international expansion).

As far as we are aware, TSheets does not have embedded machine intelligence capability but we can see that being grafted on as post acquisition integration kicks in. QuickBooks Self Employed is a poster child for Intuit’s embedded machine learning and the TSheets Time Capture function will become a new offering within Intuit’s Small Business and Self-Employed Group, which TSheets CEO Matt Rissell will lead. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:15' - Tagged: acquisition   software  

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Thursday 07 December 2017

IMImobile Targets NHS Efficiency Drive

LogoCloud communications software and services provider IMImobile is making a play for the NHS IT services market through the acquisition of UK patient communications specialist Healthcare Communications. The move is aimed at enhancing IMImobile’s public sector position through establishing a foothold in the £1.6b healthcare segment.

The NHS has identified better use of digital patient communications as an important driver of efficiency savings as it works to close a £30b funding gap by 2020/21. The Department of Health estimates that missed hospital appointments cost the NHS around £750m a year. Healthcare Communications, which turned over £3.6m last year and provides services to 140 NHS trusts, has established technologies which address the “Did Not Attend” problem. IMImobile believes adding these capabilities to its products and solutions that will provide significant cross-sell and up-sell opportunities in the NHS IT services arena (read the latest UK Public Sector SITS Market Trends & Forecasts Report for further insight into the healthcare market).

Under the terms of the deal, IMImobile will pay an initial consideration of £9.0m in cash on completion withh additional deferred payments of up to a maximum aggregate value of £6.0m, split over two years based on a mix of gross profit growth and EBITDA targets. The deferred consideration will be satisfied either in cash or shares. It is being funded from a mix of existing cash resources and a new £12.0m debt facility agreed with Silicon Valley Bank.

This latest announcement comes hot on the heels of the purchase last month of US messaging provider Sumotext (see here). It also marks a continuation of a heavily acquisition led expansion strategy which has accounted for three quarters of the near 50% top-line growth achieved in its last financial year (see here). This business has grown consistently at double-digit rates while generating cash. There is every reason to expect that this rate of progress will continue.

Posted by Duncan Aitchison at '09:12' - Tagged: cloud   mobile   acquisiiton  

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Thursday 07 December 2017

RM trading ahead of expectations

RMRM the education specialist, expects results for FY2017 to be ahead of expectations siting progress made in the second half of the year on a number of fronts.

RM acquired the education and care business of the Connect Group earlier this year. As we suggested at the time synergies between RM’s Resources division and Connect were likely to be strong with RM able to improve its position in the secondary school education resources market and thus take a greater chunk of school consumables spending (RM acquires Connect Group’s education business for £56.5m). Today’s trading update shows that synergies are now expected to exceed the original £2m.

RM is making progress across its three divisions – RM Resources benefited from organic growth in the second half of the year (in contrast to H1), performance at RM Education (SITS) has held up following its 2016 restructuring and RM Results (e-assessments) was trading in line with expectations, having had a good summer.

UK schools remain a tough market in which to operate, struggling with a decline in funding per pupil and uncertainty about future funding settlements. The decision to be bold earlier in the year and make its largest acquisition to date appears to be delivering for RM.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:08' - Tagged: education  

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Thursday 07 December 2017

Henchman provides tonic for flat Jinn

logoHat-tip to TechCrunch’s Steve O’Hear for another great piece of investigative journalism, unearthing the apparent denouement of the demise of ‘quick response’ courier app, Jinn, which shut its doors in October (see Jinn runs out of tonic). The failure of Jinn reportedly left 1,800 couriers both out of work and out of pocket.

It appears that the Jinn app and brand has been acquired by up-market quick response delivery app Henchman and will be rolled out as part of its new ‘on demand concierge brand’ next year. Henchman was founded in 2012 as a posh people’s quick response delivery app and was acquired by supply chain logistics firm Rico earlier this year. Rico, which started life as Slough-based Ricochet Couriers, was itself acquired by US-based logistics giant TVS in 2012.

Frankly, trying to break into today’s ‘on demand’ delivery market is a mug’s game. The giants like Uber and Amazon are already all over it, threatening established services such as Just Eat and Deliveroo in their own segments. Trying to go niche and charge a premium fee just can’t work as there won’t be the volume to sustain a stand-alone business without a substantial backer (like Rico for Henchman) behind it. Others have also tried and failed – such as London-based Dispatch. Avoid!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:08' - Tagged: acquisition   startup  

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Wednesday 06 December 2017

*OUT NOW* UK Public Sector Market Trends & Forecasts to 2020

3Bs Bodies Brexit BudgetDid you miss it? Last week, TechMarketView’s PublicSectorViews team published its annual review of the key trends impacting the UK public sector software and IT services market. The report gives our detailed analysis of how those trends will impact each of the subsectors – central government, local government, health, education, police and defence – through to the end of the decade.

We highlight a push-pull scenario. On the one hand, public sector organisations know they must control budgets in the short-term, as well as dealing with all sorts of uncertainty (accentuated by Brexit). On the other hand, they are conscious of the need to invest to attain increased efficiency and productivity for the longer-term. The impact will vary between subsectors, between service lines, and between suppliers. And with diversity of performance a continuing feature, the ‘winners’ in the market will be those that judge the market correctly, make sure they are in the right place at the right time, and offer the right mix of products and services for a sector’s needs.

UK Public Sector SITS Market Trends & Forecasts to 2020 is available for download by PublicSectorViews subscription clients now. If you are not sure if your organisation has a subscription or you would like to sign up, please contact dseth@techmarketview.com to find out more.

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '22:36' - Tagged: health   public+sector   centralgovernment   localgovernment   market+trends   defence   education   police   forecasts   police   police   police   police  

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Wednesday 06 December 2017

**NEW RESEARCH** Business Process Services Supplier Prospects 2018

For the most comprehensive understanding of the UK’s Business Process Services supplier landscape for next year and beyond, read BPS Supplier Prospects 2018.teaser

The report looks at the leading players in the UK BPS market, and assesses what they will need to do to be successful from 2018 onwards. We also provide our view on the likely hurdles that will prevent suppliers reaching their potential in the short and mid-term.

The BPS market is going through a period of unprecedented change and all the major suppliers are having to adapt to the conditions. New greenfield and ‘big-ticket’ opportunities are in short supply at a time when intelligent automation is shaking up existing business models. Buyers are looking for partners who can deliver greater flexibility and demonstrate faster results.

If you are either a BPS provider looking to understand how the competition is gearing up for 2018, or a buyer of business services looking to evaluate potential suppliers, then this is the report for you.

If you would like to access the report (which is authored by Research Director, Marc Hardwick) and are not currently a subscriber to our Business Process Services research, please contact Deb Seth.

Posted by HotViews Editor at '20:00' - Tagged: RPA  

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Wednesday 06 December 2017

Backer calls in loan on posh e-pawnbroker Borro

logoBorro, the nine year-old London-based consumer lender that offers loans secured by luxury assets (i.e. posh e-pawnbroker), has in effect been acquired through a majority investment by one of its backers, Chicago-based Victory Park Capital (VPC). Terms were not disclosed. VPC provided Borro with a £67m credit facility in February 2014 (see IndustryViews Venture Capital Q1 2014).

According to media reports, Borro’s CEO and founder, Paul Aitken, left the business earlier this year and the company subsequently pulled out of the property bridging loan market. Borro entered this market in August 2015 and subsequently reported an operating profit of £1m but a £2.7m net loss following a £7m operating loss and £9.8m net loss in 2014. At the time (September 2016) the company was predicting a £5m operating profit and ‘a small profit after loan funding costs’ in 2016, though these accounts have yet to be filed.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '10:04' - Tagged: acquisition   funding  

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Wednesday 06 December 2017

Analysing Oxford Metrics

logoOxford Metrics is not a company we are very familiar with but it could be one to keep eyes on. It provides analytics software for motion measurement and infrastructure asset management, capabilities that will be in ever more demand as preventative maintenance and IoT deployments take off, and it also has fingers in AR and facial recognition.

At the moment, it is an eclectic business serving the government, life sciences, entertainment and engineering sectors via two segments. Yotta provides cloud infrastructure asset management software to local and central government and other infrastructure providers where UK customers include Highways England and Amey. Vicon provides high precision motion measurement analysis and its customer list includes Guy's Hospital, EA Sports, MIT and NASA. The company has a presence in 70 countries.

On a first pass analysis, Oxford Metrics (HQ: Oxford, founded in 1984, current CEO Nick Bolton) looks like two separate companies under one roof serving very diverse industry segments and would benefit from clearer direction. However, it is one year into a five year strategic plan so changes are underway, including what appears to be a shift to more of a software focus. Its financials also point to change. For the year to September 30 2017, revenue was up 10.7% to £29.2m (the bulk from the Vicon segment) with adjusted PBT of £3.9m vs. £5.1m due to investment activity. Companies in change are always worth monitoring, especially mid sized UK companies. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:58' - Tagged: results   software   analytics  

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Wednesday 06 December 2017

Payday lender Oakam wins victory loan

logoChicago-based lender Victory Park Capital (VPC) is on a bit of a roll here in the UK with two investments in quick succession. Having recently (in effect) acquired ‘posh e-pawnbroker’ Borro, (see Backer calls in loan on posh e-pawnbroker Borro), VPC has just announced a £35m debt investment in London-based payday lender, Oakam. Oakam mainly serves the ‘unbanked’ and those with poor credit history, offering loans from £200 up to £5,000 at a 1,421% (representative) variable APR. Founded in 2006, and backed by Cabot Square Capital, Oakam secured a line of credit with RBS in February 2016.

One wonders whether VPC has the same end-game in mind for Oakham as it did for Borro.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:42' - Tagged: funding  

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Wednesday 06 December 2017

SysGroup without CEO but remains “confident”

sysFollowing on from its November warning that FY18 profits would come in significantly below market expectations, SysGroup has issued its full half-year results. The company has been trying to engineer a shift into more profitable managed services, where contracts are also bigger. Revenue (from continuing operations) for the first six months to the end of September was up 47% to £3.9m (managed services is 73% of this). However, adjusted EBITDA was squeezed to £140k from £230k.

While the profit numbers are not likely to please management, there have been structural and operational improvements that are intended to get the company into better shape for growth – e.g. the integration of acquisitions and the creation of a new strategic marketing function.

Indeed, acquisitions are central to its evolution, as demonstrated by its recent purchase of Rockford – see SysGroup files Rockford under “Acquisition Strategy”. CEO, Chris Evans, outlined the company’s plans to us in June, but he has now left the company “due to long term health reasons”. As a small firm with fairly high ambitions to make a consolidation play, SysGroup really needs to get a leader back in place as soon as possible. And it perhaps needs to focus more intensely on getting its internal ‘ducks in a row’ before making any more significant acquisitions.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:36' - Tagged: results   managedservices  

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Wednesday 06 December 2017

Fresh funding for Anaplan

logoAs a company providing corporate performance management and enterprise performance management cloud software and with a platform play too, privately held Anaplan is deep in the data driven domain which is one of the reasons why it previously gained unicorn status. The unicorn has gained some extra gilding following another funding round that has raised $60m, taking total funding up to $300m and its valuation up to $1.4bn.

Like previous rounds, the funding round was led by Premji Invest, the investment fund of Wipro founder Azim Premji, with Salesforce Ventures and Top Tier Capital also taking part.

The company, who started out in Yorkshire but shifted to San Francisco, reported FY17 revenue of $120m and 75% subscription revenue growth in March 2017, and CEO Frank Calderoni now talks of revenue in the "couple hundred millions" so it appears to be in good growth mode. It has around 800 customers and is gaining something like 70 new customers per quarter.

Since its last investment in January 2016 (see here) Anaplan has faced some challenges. In April 2016 the CEO of the time Frederic Laluyaux (formerly SAP) exited and it took until January 2017 to appoint replacement Calderoni (formerly CFO/exec VP, Red Hat). His task is to drive high growth – not easy in a busy sector filled with financial accounting and ERP providers from SAP, Oracle, NetSuite to Workday. But after a period of change, it looks like Anaplan is ready to move again. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:21' - Tagged: funding   startup   software  

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Wednesday 06 December 2017

How do you teach Computing without computers?

Bury schoolHow do you teach Computing without computers? That was the desperate plea from one of my teacher friends on Facebook last week as she set about planning computing lessons for her small rural primary school.

Laura teaches at Bury Church of England Primary in West Sussex, where she has been given the role of ‘computing lead’ even though she’s never had any official training in the topic. Bury has just 42 children on its roll and teaches them in three classes of mixed year groups, the largest being the year 5/6 class of 19 children. Across the school they have five working laptops, all of which are five or more years old, plus three iPads (for the teachers’ use, not the children) and one interactive whiteboard.

Now Laura is an innovative, enthusiastic teacher but even she is struggling to see how she can effectively teach coding and computing - and most importantly engage the children so that they are enthused to learn vital digital skills - with only five working laptops. Amongst the more helpful suggestions that she received on Facebook were coding with graph paper and cutting a yoga mat into squares to make a floor grid to teach some of the skills.

Of course, without sufficient working computers, it’s not just the children’s coding skills that will suffer. If they had laptops or tablets they’d use them for general class use too – typing, numeracy, creating presentations and even creating films to improve literacy.

Unfortunately, I’m sure Laura is not the only teacher in UK schools facing this near impossible challenge. As our education market trends analysis makes clear (see UK Public Sector SITS Market Size & Forecasts 2017/8), funding for UK schools is incredibly tight – indeed, education is the worst performing area of the UK public sector software and IT services market and was the only sub-sector to decline last year. At Bury primary school, they are having to cut costs on everything from pencils to exercise books and don’t have any funding available for computers. Other local primary schools have asked the parents for donations to help them purchase IT equipment but with only 33 families in the school, Bury’s options are limited there too.

If the UK is serious about improving productivity and becoming a ‘tech nation’ then we need our young people to have the right digital skills. The evidence suggests that means inspiring children to embrace tech at primary school age, but how do you do that without computers?

If any of our UKHotViews readers have suggestions for organisations that may be able to help Laura and others like her teaching computing in UK schools, please do let us know. You can email me at tsargeant@techmarketview.com.  

Posted by Tola Sargeant at '08:59' - Tagged: education   skills  

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Wednesday 06 December 2017

Maintel revises expectations after contract wind downs

Maintel revises expectations downwardsA faster than expected wind down of two large legacy contracts has prompted Maintel to revise its FY17 profit expectations.

The UK systems integrator and managed services provider issued a trading update that forecasts adjusted EBITDA in the range of £12.5-£13m. That would still represent a healthy 12-18% increase on the £11m adjusted profit before tax posted in FY16 (at that time up 52% yoy) after the acquisition of Azzurri Communications pushed revenue up 114% to £108m.

Both of the contracts in question generated higher than average gross margins and were due to carry on into the first half of FY18, and we expect they will take a sizeable chunk out of Maintel's expected turnover. The company also said its managed services division had been impacted by delays to customer installations after its trading partner Avaya filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, though ordering activity began to recover in November.

On the upside, Maintel's ICON cloud services have seen good growth and the acquisition of Intrinsic Technology could inject as much as £50m of annual revenue into the business. We await the final FY17 numbers with interest, but note that management are confident that the full year dividend is still on course to grow 10% yoy in line with existing guidance.

Posted by Martin Courtney at '08:56' - Tagged: tradingupdate   Maintel  

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Wednesday 06 December 2017

Concepta marrs Mercia’s emerging stars

logoI’ve always admired Mercia Technologies’ business model and the way it has expanded from being an essentially Midlands University-focused tech investor to a broader based UK-wide tech investor, though still keeping strong regional and university ties. Its ‘business-of-two-halves’ model comprises the AIM-listed PLC, which makes direct investments from the balance sheet in ‘emerging stars’, and a slew of funds under the Mercia Fund Management (MFM) brand, which provide a breeding ground for ‘emerging stars’ and of course fee revenue to run the PLC business.

This model works well and mitigates the occasional hiccup in the performance of Mercia’s direct investments, such as AIM-listed Concepta, which targets the personalised mobile health market with a primary focus on unexplained women’s infertility (see Investors back Concepta in £2m equity fundraising). Mercia wrote down Concepta’s fair value by £1.3m in first half (to 30th September) which, even with £0.4m impairment in some smaller direct investments, still saw Mercia’s aggregate direct portfolio valuation increase by £3m. This now tallies £64.7m, including £9.7m additional investment in the period.

Mercia’s P&L also told a good story, with MFM fees mostly accounting for the near-70% uplift in revenues to £4.8m. Net profit rose by 26% to £1.4m, though EPS declined by 9% to 48p on an increased issued share count. However, the key measure of NAV per share grew by 8% to 41.1p.

Mercia is a prolific investor in UK tech, recently supporting MindTrace, Smartgate, and nDreams (its largest direct investment) among others. Long may this last!

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:32' - Tagged: resullts  

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Tuesday 05 December 2017

*NEW RESEARCH* Castleton Technology: The post integration journey

Castleton Software Suite diagramFollowing the announcement of Castleton Technology’s H1 results earlier in November (see Castleton H1 revenue up 11%) and the more recent acquisition of Kinetic Information Systems Pty (see Castleton buys and builds down under), we took the opportunity to catch up with the company’s CEO, Dean Dickinson, and CFO, Haywood Chapman.

The H1 results were strong but there is much more to come from the provider of software and managed services to the public and not-for-profit sectors (predominantly the social housing sector).

PublicSectorViews' subscribers can learn more about Castleton's current business, its future investmnet focus and its prospects in the latest resaerch note from TechMarketView's PublicSectorViews team - Castleton Technology: The post integration journey. If you are not yet a PublicSectorViews subscriber, or would like to find out if your organisation has access to the research, please contact Deb Seth

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '16:32' - Tagged: public+sector   localgovernment   software   managedservices   housing  

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Tuesday 05 December 2017

iomart growth ticks down slightly in H1

iomartHalf-year results from cloud/hosting firm, iomart, show the company is sustaining underlying cloud growth in the high single digit region (8%) – down from 10% last year. That organic growth figure was dented slightly by a government project coming to an end (which would take the growth rate to 4%), but iomart considers this to be a one-off. We think growth in the range of 8-10% is right for a company of this profile, and certainly there are the market opportunities to support this.

Overall company revenue, including the Easyspace hosting business (which grew c2%), was up 12% to £47m. The adjusted EBITDA margin was squeezed slightly again - see last year's figures – from 41.8% to 40.7% partly due to hardware/software cost of sales from the acquired Cristie business. 

At the top line, cloud grew 13% including acquisitions (recent purchases include Tier 9, Dediserve, and Sonassi). Importantly, iomart’s acquisition strategy is helping it to build sector-specific skills – e.g. in retail – which we believe is going to be increasingly important next year as buyers expect more than just generic cloud solutions. Indeed, on the point of skills more generally, Scotland-based iomart does seem to be more shielded, versus some of the South-Eastern focused providers, from skills shortages. Its graduate programmes have worked well, and combined with acquired skills it is building a nice capability base. We think this should contribute to it being able to sustain growth levels into the future.

Posted by Kate Hanaghan at '09:59' - Tagged: results   cloud   hosting  

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Tuesday 05 December 2017

Strong first half for PCI-PAL

logoPCI-PAL, the customer engagement business, firmly nailed its colours to the secure payments mast last year after it sold its call centre business. It then geared up for growth as it doubled losses on continuing operations in the year to June (see here).

This bold statement of intent seems to be paying off. In the last financial year (to June 2017) they were able to add 19 new contracts which has led to recurring revenue growth of 50% in the first half of FY2018. They have also been able to secure two new local Government contracts and a major reseller contract, this one being with a FTSE-250 company active in the payments, telephony, contact centre and outsourcing businesses. This contract will use PCI’s AWS-based platform to deliver services across the UK and Europe.

The focus on secure payments and the drive to recruit channel partners has driven a larger number of contract leads than the management had anticipated and it looks as if the company will have to add resources to capitalise on the higher levels of interest.

All well and good for the medium term, but the trading update includes a note of caution. The company is switching to a Software as a Service revenue model and as a consequence, revenues from new contracts will take time to build. Channel partners will also require a slice of the action. The update states that overall revenues are ahead over the year and that is a positive, but additional  costs to support the higher levels of activity will retard the move back to profit.

Posted by Peter Roe at '09:44' - Tagged: saas   cloud   payments  

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Tuesday 05 December 2017

Albert elbows out old timer online ad business

logoAlbert Technologies is taking decisive action to shake of the problems caused by disruption in the online advertising market and will close down its Indirect business (online sales via advertising exchanges) by the end of this month, committing its future to SaaS and the Albert machine intelligence based marketing platform.

It has been on the cards for some time but the decision point came in H1 when the Indirect business delivered a loss for the first time (see here). It is telling that the unit will be closed rather than any attempt being made to sell. Programmatic buying is the way forward – witness RhythmOne.

With the closure, Albert Technologies will retreat into software, specifically Albert the SaaS based machine intelligence enabled (semi) autonomous marketing campaign platform. The financial consequences will be hard however. H1 results (to June 30 2017) had already seen EBITDA losses deepen from $2.7m to $6.2m on revenue that plummeted from $8.7m to $4.4m. Much of the fall was due to the Indirect business while at the time SaaS only represented 10% of total revenue (although 45% of gross profit). Since then the SaaS business has grown and the company expects SaaS revenues of $1.7m for the year to December 31 2017, having achieved a run rate of $3m so far in the final quarter, representing a 9x increase over the previous year. The closure of the Indirect business will still have a grievous impact but Albert can enter the new year unencumbered. 

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:21' - Tagged: software   AI   machineintelligence   closedown  

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Tuesday 05 December 2017

Apexx raises US$4m for its payment gateway

logoThe payments business has become enormously complicated with an increasing number of payments methods, the growth of ecommerce and the emergence of many different ways to move money around the world. As businesses get on with selling their goods and services, they have no time or bandwidth to get up-to-speed with this increasingly complex market place.

London-based Apexx (www.apexxfintech.com) helps businesses navigate this multi-dimensional maze by providing a single integration point to handle all a company’s payments and to enable its customers to choose from a wide range of payments methods. Apexx then works out the most cost-effective way of accepting and transacting the payments, routing the payment through the most beneficial provider among its long list of partners.

The three co-founders have broad experience across the payments business and include Peter Keenan, ex-CEO of Zapp, the Vocalink-funded payments business sold to Mastercard. Having launched its service in April of this year, Apexx has just raised US$4m in seed funding in a round led by Forward Partners to extend its global partner network and boost product development.

reportThe scope for Apexx to reduce transaction costs by switching between competing acquirers is significant, particularly in international transactions. It should also be able to generate a reasonable margin, effectively taking a share in the achievable savings, as well as commission from the chosen payments provider.

Reality check

  • Are you up-to-speed with the rapidly changing payments sector?
  • Do you understand the key drivers of success in the payments business?
  • Does your company know how to make money in payments?

If the answer to any of the above questions is “No”, download our comprehensive study of the UK payments business (if you are a FinancialServicesViews subscriber – if not, you can purchase this report on a one-off basis).

Posted by Peter Roe at '08:58' - Tagged: funding   payments   FinTech   AI  

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Tuesday 05 December 2017

WANdisco in demand

logoWANdisco’s popularity was reaffirmed yesterday when it looked to raise $10m through a share placing and ended up securing $22m after the size of the placing was increased due to investor demand.

It’s taken a while and there have been ructions along the way, including the ousting and reinstatement of founder and CEO David Richards, but WANdisco’s active data replication software and the needs of the market appear to be coming into closer alignment. The successful share placing follows a strong H1 when revenue increased 71% and the company achieved positive adjusted EBITDA for the first time (see WANdisco H117: plenty of positive ‘firsts’).

Partnerships with Dell/EMC’s Virtustream and IBM are contributing to revenue growth while integration with AWS Snowball, Microsoft Azure HD Insights and the launch of the WANdisco Hybrid Data Lake with AWS are helping put the company in the right places and confirming its place within the big data infrastructure stack. Funds from the share placing will be used to deepen and broaden partnerships as well as to invest in engineering.

Posted by Angela Eager at '08:30' - Tagged: software   fundraising   bigdata   shareplacing  

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Tuesday 05 December 2017

Edinburgh’s TravelNest gets £3m to aid home rentals

logoIf you wanted to rent out your home on a holiday let I would imagine the first – and possibly the only – website you’d go to is Airbnb. But according to Edinburgh-based holiday rental platform startup TravelNest, there are no fewer than 47 different websites you could advertise your property on if you really wanted to cover the territory.

So, TravelNest founder (and young Donny Osmond lookalike!) Doug Stephenson is doing a ‘Skyscanner’ job on the market with the aim of becoming a one-top-shop holiday rental aggregator platform. Indeed, Mark Logan, former COO of Skyscanner, the hugely successful (and also Edinburgh-founded) flight search aggregator acquired by Chinese Ctrip.com last year, has joined the TravelNest board. Logan was one of the investors in a recent £3m seed funding round which was led by Pentech Ventures, Mangrove Capital Partners and Frontline Ventures.

I must admit I am struggling to understand how TravelNest works because its very simplistic website doesn’t explain what you need to do if you want to use it. However, It is free to use for landlords, and plans to earn its living from advertising. To me, this seems a riskier proposition than taking a small cut of every booking made, like Airbnb does.

Anyway, assuming TravelNest is not just a solution looking for a problem, then it sounds like a good idea – if they can make money from the business model.

PS: Guys - Someone else owns the @TravelNest Twitter handle - what's yours?

PPS: ...and why do you have a completely different logo on the Jobs page of your website?

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:09' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Monday 04 December 2017

Castleton buys and builds down under

Castleton logoCastleton Technology has already ‘bought and built’ (see Castleton H1 revenue up 11%  and work back) over the last couple of years to establish a position in the social housing sector in the UK. Now, it is doing the same in Australia where, up until now, it has had a very small footprint (c12 customers and £0.5m of turnover).

The software and managed service provider to the public and not-for-profit sectors has announced the acquisition of Kinetic Information Systems Pty Ltd, “the leading provider of software solutions to the Community Housing sector in Australia”. Kinetic has over 50 customers on its books and a c40% share of the market for Tier 1 providers in Australia. Impressively, it claims a 100% customer retention over the last ten years. We understand that competitors, like UK-headquartered SDM Housing Software, as well as local Australian firms, have a small footprint in comparison.

There will be plenty of opportunity to cross-sell Castleton’s UK software into the Australian market, where the market trend is mimicking the UK's 20 years ago, i.e. more housing stock is being pushed to social housing providers. Kinetic has three pillar offerings underpinning its ERP software solutions: MYOB GreenTree, a Tier 2 ERP software solution; QlikView, business intelligence software; and its proprietary Kinetic Housing Schema software platform, which takes the standard ERP and BI software and creates a fully integrated solution (and contributes c10-15% of revenues). The company also has a strong consultancy revenue stream. But there are plenty of Castleton offerings that Kinetic doesn’t touch currently, like CRM, document management or mobile solutions.

All in all, this looks like a neat acquisition for Castleton, which brings with it the possibility of rapid expansion within the region (and indeed, into other countries like New Zealand, or adjacent sectors). With turnover of AU$2.3m (c£1.3m) and normalised EBITDA of AU$0.6m (c£0.3m), the deal (initial cash consideration of AU$2.0m (c£1.14m), a deferred cash payment of AU$0.5 million (c£0.3m) and a further payment dependent on performance to June 2018) looks fair. Now we’ll just take bets on whether SDM is the next acquisition target…!

Posted by Georgina O'Toole at '09:50' - Tagged: localgovernment   erp   acquisition   software   M&A   BI   socialhousing   Australia  

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Monday 04 December 2017

Shepherd gets dosh to watch over mechanical flock

logoOxfordshire-based IoT startup Shepherd Network has raised $870k in a seed funding round backed by UK insurance giant, Aviva via the Founders Factory incubator in which Aviva Venures has a stake. Founded in 2015, Shepherd had previously raised £190k in a seed funding round in march 2016, according to CrunchBase.

Shepherd has developed an analytics platform to monitor machinery such as pumps and boilers and raises alerts if problems occur. Shepherd also supplies associated hardware through a subsidiary company.  

Shepherd is not the only UK startup with this idea in mind, witness London-based ThingTrax, which raised funds back in May (see ThingTrax gets £250k to make dumb machines smarter).

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:46' - Tagged: funding   startup  

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Monday 04 December 2017

RhythmOne: programming change

logoNavigating the fast changing adtech market as it adjusts to the scale, efficiency and transparency enabled by programmatic trading, while digital ad spend concentrates with the major providers is no easy task. Having had to change course previously as its market shifted, RhythmOne now has a clear destination in mind. Its ambition, to create an integrated, end-to-end platform based on its RhythmMax platform, made further progress during H118 (to September 30) with the Perk and RadiumOne acquisitions -  and the pending Q1 YuMe acquisition (see here).

A conversation with CEO Edward Hastings this morning highlighted several strategic and operational moves that demonstrated how the company is adapting, scaling and improving the quality of revenue. Platform revenue is now $44.4m, a 25% yoy increase, while programmatic revenue (boosted by acquisitions) represents 88% of revenue. Overall performance was in line, with revenue from continuing operations up 72% yoy to $114.5m and adjusted EBITDA back to profitability of $3.1m, from a loss of $2.6m. Growth was largely due to acquisitions, while revenue from historic products fell 5% to £$63.4m (and will continue to decline as the programmatic shift continues).

RhythmOne is still in the process of change but as the growth in platform revenue shows, it is well on the way and this area will be the key growth engine. RadiumOne is likely to be another contributor to growth though because of its ability use data to add value and carry out more precise segmentation. Hastings says the data capability is a differentiator. More acquisitions are planned. With RadiumOne and YuMe adding capability on the demand side, we can expect the company to look for acquisitions on the supply side of the adtech market as it continues its change journey.

Posted by Angela Eager at '09:38' - Tagged: results   software  

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Monday 04 December 2017

MXC shuffles top deck as mitigates losses

logoMXC Capital, the AIM-listed Guernsey-headquartered self-styled ‘London’s technology merchant bank’, made useful headway in mitigating the £16.8m net loss reported at half-time, caused by the plunge in value of its portfolio companies, notably AIM-listed Redcentric, now in turn-around mode (see here). Indeed, virtually MXC’s entire £11.8m net loss in the year to 31st August 2017 was accounted for by the decline in the fair value of its investments, against revenues of £1.1m (FY2016: £4.6m).

MXC co-founder Ian Smith was sanguine about the company’s prospects, notably the recently announced 50/50 joint venture with Colorado-headquartered cable and media giant, Liberty Global, to create a buy-and-build IT services business aimed at the UK SME market (see here). Smith has now been appointed Chief Executive of MXC Capital Limited – the AIM-listed entity – with prior CEO, Marc Young, moving to MXC Capital Markets LLP, the Group’s corporate advisory arm, as Managing Partner.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '09:22' - Tagged: management   resullts  

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Monday 04 December 2017

Communisis appoints CFO

CommunisisIntegrated marketing services provider Communisis has recruited Steve Rawlins as Group Chief Financial Officer and appointed him to the Company's Board, with effect from today.

Rawlings brings with him experience of the digital media, business services and FMCG sectors both here in the UK and overseas. Most recently Rawlings was CFO of EDC Communications, a Private Equity backed group of digital media agencies. Previously he held senior finance roles at Vendia UK Ltd, Uniq PLC, Caradon PLC and The Gillette Company.

Mark Stoner, Group Finance Director, steps down from the Board and will work with Rawlings through Q1 2018 on a handover after which he will leave the Company.

Rawlings is the latest appointment to the leadership team as Chief Executive Andy Blundell continues to transform Communisis into a digital provider of “personalised customer communication services”. This has seen the Group simplified into the two divisions of Brand Deployment and Customer Experience and August’s half year results showing good progress towards “digital” (Communisis, managing the transition). Digital and Services now account for 60% of revenue compared to just 15% five years ago. This proportion should increase further as Communisis continues its move away from its heritage as a print and document services provider. 

In addition to Rawlings background in digital services his overseas experience will also be relevant as Communisis continues its own international expansion following existing clients into a range of overseas markets.   

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:01' - Tagged: marketing   bps  

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Monday 04 December 2017

Murthy “happy” with new Infosys CEO

logoWhite smoke finally issued from the chimney at Infosys HQ in Bangalore this weekend, with the announcement of its new CEO – and this appointment actually makes sense.

picCapgemini exec Salil Parekh is to take over the helm on 2nd January. Parekh was one of five deputy CEOs on Capgemini’s Group Executive Board. One imagines his decision to leave Capgemini was made somewhat easier when Capgemini Group CEO Paul Hermelin announced the appointment of two COOs in October, which in effect put Parekh out of the running to take over the top job when Hermelin eventually steps down.

Parkeh joined Capgemini in 2000 with the acquisition of the erstwhile Ernest & Young’s consulting business. He was instrumental in developing Capgemini’s Indian workforce, leading to the $1.25b 2006 acquisition of US-headquartered India-centric financial services sector consultancy, Kanbay. The acquisition more than doubled Capgemini’s Indian staffing to around 12,000 employees. Capgemini subsequently acquired US-headquartered India-centric services supplier IGATE in 2015 for $4b (see Capgemini closes gate on IGATE brand and work back) which added another 30k employees to Capgemini’s headcount, mostly in India. Today Capgemini has some 100k employees in India.

So, Parekh understands IT services and offshore delivery. And, according to all the reports, he will based in Bangalore, unlike his West Coast-facing predecessor Dr Vishal Sikka (see OffshoreViews EXTRA: Infosys – The Sikka Years).

But perhaps Parekh’s biggest challenge will be to keep Infosys lead co-founder, Narayana Murthy, sweet. Murthy has been a thorn in the side of the Infosys board after he turned renegade to oust Sikka, who he had (presumably) hand picked for the top job in 2014. On hearing the news of Parekh’s appointment (which he also presumably had to bless), Murthy is reported to “(be) happy that Infosys has appointed Salil Parekh as the CEO”, and sent his best wishes.

Well that’s all OK then.

If you would like a FREE copy of the ‘Sikka years’ report, please drop your details (name, company, position) to info@techmarketview.com with SIKKA YEARS in the subject line.

Posted by Anthony Miller at '08:31' - Tagged: offshore   management  

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