EU Abandons Digital Services Tax
EU: The European Union’s Digital Services Tax (DST) proposal has been withdrawn.
In a meeting of European Finance Ministers, France and Germany accepted that the proposed legislation to tax digital giants, stands no no chance of passing into law.
Instead, the intention now is to apply a watered-down version, namely, a 3% tax on digital advertising.
The wide-reaching French and German plan faced strong opposition from a group of countries led by Ireland, who argued that unilateral action on digital taxation by the EU would exacerbate transatlantic trade tensions and that the EU should await and align with the global proposal due from the OECD next year.
In practice, it means Google and Facebook, who account for 75% per cent of digital advertising space, will bear the brunt of any EU-specific digital advertising tax levy.
Swedish Audio Platform Raises USD 35 Million
Stockholm, Sweden: Acast, a Swedish technology platform for on-demand audio and podcasting, has raised USD 35 million in a Series C round.
The round values Acast at SKr1.7bn (USD 190m), a near-doubling of its valuation, since its previous funding round 15 months ago.
Lead investors this time were AP1, one of Sweden’s national pension funds, as well as 2 funds from Swedish investor, Swedbank Robur. Other investors in include Bonnier Growth Media and Swedish venture capital firm, Moor.
To date, Acast has raised $67m, which the company plans to invest in expanding into the US and to bolster its engineering staff.
UK in World’s largest Commercial EV Project
London, England: The UK’s energy sector regulator, Ofgem, is launching the world’s largest trial of commercial electric vehicles (EVs).
The corporate sector in the UK, accounts for 58% of all new vehicles sold there and will therefore be essential in the transition to low carbon transport.
The project, labelled ‘Optimise Prime’ is led by data technology solutions provider Hitachi Vantara, together with Uber and UK energy provider Centrica.
They plan to rollout 3,000 EVs within the Greater London area by the end of 2021 as part of a major test to assess commercial electric vehicle (EV) sector appetite in the UK.
The 3-year project will develop practical ways of overcoming the up-front costs that are currently holding back many of the country’s biggest commercial vehicle operators from making the switch to EVs.
The announcement comes in the same week that new research, by fleet management and telematics firm Geotab, revealed that almost 90% of the UK’s fleet managers plan to switch the majority of their diesel and petrol vehicles to EVs by 2028.
UK Tech Entrepreneur Facing U.S Fraud Charges
United Kingdom: Mike Lynch, the former founder and CEO of software firm, Autonomy – sold to Hewlett-Packard in 2011 for USD 11 billion – has been charged with fraud by the US Department of Justice.
Stephen Chamberlain, a former Autonomy finance executive was also charged while Autonomy’s former CFO, Sushovan Hussain, was convicted in the US on similar charges earlier this year.
The charges relate to the financial statements and records of Autonomy prior to the sale to HP.
Two key allegations are that Autonomy’s management masked its revenue as high margin software, when in fact, it also sold lower margin hardware and that it artificially inflating accrued income.
The Department of Justice case is likely to hinge on the nuances between UK and U.S accounting rules, as they seek to establish whether U.S or UK accounting standards should apply.
12 months after the acquisition, HP wrote-down its Autonomy investment by USD 8.8 billion.
Mike Lynch is considered one of the UK’s leading technology entrepreneurs and received an OBE from the Queen for services to enterprise. His venture fund, Invoke Capital Partners is an investor in UK technology companies.
His lawyers have described the US indictment as a travesty of justice. They say the allegations are meritless and that they “reject them emphatically.”
UK Media Content Start-up Raises USD 3.8 million
London, England: Jungle Creations, a London based media content creation start-up has raised GBP 3 million ($3.8 m) in a Series A funding round.
Setup by Jamie Bolding in 2014, Jungle Creations now has 17 social media channels – including Twisted, VT (the most viewed channel on Facebook), Food Envy, Four Nine, and Nailed it – all with a combined audience of 43 million followers worldwide.
They have also worked with household brand names such as Oreo, Doritos, Unilever, Apple, Iceland, Knorr, Budweiser, Dr. Oetker and Heinz.
The company says it intends to use the funds to grow its existing bases in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto and focus on building its global audience while tapping into local market opportunities.
The round was led by London based venture capitalist firm, Edge Investments with David Fisher, its investment director, now joining the board of Jungle Creations.
German Gaming Company Sells for USD 100 Million
Berlin, Germany: Gaming company, Playtika, has acquired Berlin-based mobile game maker firm, Wooga.
The value of the deal was not disclosed but it believed be in the region of USD 100 million.
Founded in 2009 by Jens Begemnn, and best known for its mobile games such as Diamond Dash and Bubble Island, Wooga had previously raised USD30 million, via investments from Highland Capital Partners and Balderton Capital.
Though Wooga made a few shifts in strategic direction over the years, this year it rowed-back to its core strength of story-based casual games such which resulted in a downsizing, totalling 30 employees.
Playtika, was founded in 2010 and has 22 million monthly active users. It currently employs over 2,000 employees across 12 offices, including Tel-Aviv, London, Montreal, Chicago, Las Vegas, Buenos Aires and Tokyo.
German Digital Fitness Shapes Up with USD 45 million
Munich, Germany: Freeletics, a fitness app & sportswear company has raised USD 45 million in a Series A round.
The company was founded in Munich in 2013, with the aim of disrupting the multi-billion dollar fitness industry through the use of training apps that enable users to train anytime and anywhere.
The company today has 130 employees and over 30 million users across 160 countries.
The round was led by FitLab, Causeway Media Partners and JAZZ Venture Partners, with participation from Courtside Ventures, Elysian Park Ventures, ward.ventures, as well as global business strategist Tony Robbins.
German Open Source Workflow firm raises USD 28.5 Million
Berlin, Germany: Camunda, an open source workflow automation software firm, has raised €25 million in its first funding round since its foundation in 2008.
The company has a customer base across multiple industry sectors, including financial services, telecoms and insurance.
The Series A round was led by Highland Europe, a European based venture capital firm. The funds will be used for global marketing, continued product development and expansion in the United States, Europe and Asia.
Chicago Logistics Tech acquires Danish Firm
Chicago, Illinois & Norresunbury, Denmark : In its first acquisition since its foundation in 2014, Chicago-based logistics technology firm, Project44, has acquired its hitherto European partner – Danish firm – GateHouse Logistics.
Project44 provides advanced visibility for shippers and third-party logistics firms and says that through its cloud-based platform, organizations can increase operational efficiencies, reduce costs, improve shipping performance and provide an exceptional delivery experience to end-users.
Earlier this year, Project44 raised USD 45 million led by Sapphire Ventures, with additional investment from new investor, Insight Venture Partners as well as existing investors.
Transaction and financial terms of the deal GateHouse deal were not disclosed.