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The $680 million MedMen-PharmaCann merger just blew up in a 'surprise' and experts say it's a sign of pain to come for cannabis dealmaking

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 3:19pm

  • MedMen terminated its $682 million merger with PharmaCann on Tuesday, in a move one analyst called a "surprise."
  • The merger's cancellation points to a challenging dealmaking environment in the cannabis industry as the sector has declined close to 50% in the past few months.
  • Business Insider spoke with lawyers, bankers, and analysts who work with cannabis companies about what this means for the industry.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories and subscribe to our weekly cannabis newsletter, Cultivated

It has been a tough week for publicly traded cannabis companies, capping off a difficult few months for the sector.

In a surprise move on Tuesday, MedMen said it was pulling out of its proposed all-stock merger with PharmaCann. The merger, which was first announced in October last year, would have created one of the largest US cannabis companies and was valued at $682 million when it was announced.

Slumping share prices and consistent headwinds in the cannabis industry — namely, fear over illnesses caused by THC vapes and the slowing progress of marijuana legalization in the US — have made for a challenging dealmaking environment, according to bankers, analysts, and lawyers working with cannabis companies that Business Insider spoke with. In the past six months, the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences Index ETF, a fund that tracks cannabis stocks in the US and Canada, has slipped close to 50%.

"The initial wave of investors that went after this market has been tapped out or exhausted," Marc Hauser, the vice chair of the law firm Reed Smith's cannabis team told Business Insider in an interview. "Companies are having a much harder time raising capital than just 12 months ago."

Read more: Here are the top bankers raising money, putting together deals, and raking in millions in the global cannabis industry

For his part, MedMen CEO Adam Bierman cited the challenging capital-markets environment for cannabis companies and the need to change up strategies as the reasons for the deal's termination. The company also pushed out its chief financial officer, Michael Kramer, and replaced him with Zeeshan Hyder.

It's MedMen's third chief financial officer inside a year. Business Insider reported on the departure of MedMen's chief marketing officer, David Dancer, in September.

Vivien Azer, an analyst at the investment bank Cowen, called the deal's failure a "surprise" after it cleared a Department of Justice antitrust review a month ago and MedMen put out an "optimistic" statement about the deal's prospects. 

MedMen isn't the only cannabis company facing troubling news this week. Hexo Corp. pulled its 2020 forecast on Thursday, citing a challenging operating environment in Canada, causing its shares to free-fall. And on Wednesday, Aleafia terminated a supply agreement with Aphria after it said the latter company didn't meet obligations, causing shares in both companies to tumble.

'The environment is really challenging'

Murray Huneke, a managing director at the San Francisco-based boutique investment bank North Point Advisors, told Business Insider that there were some factors "specific" to MedMen that led to its failure to close the PharmaCann deal — notably, constant executive turnover and lower share prices than its competitors. But it's still a tough time to be a cannabis company.

"The environment is really challenging from a capital-markets perspective," Huneke said. "Market caps for cannabis companies have been cut in half since their highs."

Huneke said cannabis companies were going to think back to "frothier" times — like earlier this year — and hoard cash to weather the storm, especially as legalization in the US has been progressing slower than expected. 

Read more: We got an exclusive look at the pitch deck buzzy California cannabis company Canndescent used to raise $27.5 million as it muscles into new markets

"It's better to be a survivor in the long run," Huneke said. 

Most banks won't lend to the cannabis industry because THC is federally illegal in the US. That's forced companies to use their stock as currency to fuel acquisitions. And when share prices fall, it makes those deals harder to close. 

For a seller like PharmaCann, getting MedMen's stock in return for control of the company might have seemed like a great bet last year. Now that MedMen's share price has plummeted, it no longer seems like such a good idea — and this pattern is replicated all over the cannabis industry, Jesse Pytlak, a cannabis analyst at the investment bank Cormark Securities, said.

"There's a risk to all of these deals," Pytlak said. "It's more unique with MedMen as the stock price has performed quite poorly relative to others."

People aren't paying to 'dot up a map' anymore 

In the last quarter of 2018, and through the first few months of this year, US cannabis companies like Harvest Health and Recreation and Curaleaf, among others — known in industry parlance as multistate operators (MSOs) — went on a follow-the-leader dealmaking tear, announcing near-billion-dollar acquisitions one after another to build up scale and fill out the map with operating licenses in states where marijuana is legal. 

"Putting together deals because everyone else is doing it — I don't think it's the same environment at all," Huneke said.  

Read more: 'It's a once in a decade opportunity': How top VC firms like Greycroft and Lerer Hippeau are cautiously opening their doors to the potentially $194 billion cannabis industry

Six months to a year later, a lot of these deals still haven't closed, gummed up by Department of Justice antitrust investigations, slumping share prices, and "incremental" rather than "revolutionary" marijuana legalization in the US, Scott Hammon, a partner at the accounting and advisory firm MGO, said. That and the deals have gotten a lot larger and more complex. 

"Public companies have mostly disappointed investors' expectations," Hammon said. "Many parties agree there was a bit of a bubble mentality. Valuations didn't forecast true operating results, and the significant reductions in valuations make it much harder to close all-stock deals." 

To Huneke, the days when cannabis companies would pay to "dot up a map" are over. "The currency is worth much less, and cash is harder to find," Huneke said. "Efficiency and execution are hard. People are saying, 'When are we going to see real cash flow and real scale? Who's winning specific markets.'" 

Join the conversation about this story »

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Video shows a climate protester climbing on top of a plane and laying down at London City Airport

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 3:14pm

  • A climate protester climbed on top of an airplane at London City Airport on Monday, part of a wave of protests around the city.
  • The protester, who identified himself as Paralympian James Brown, live-streamed a video as he sat on top of the plane waiting to be removed by police.
  • Another video was live-streamed by protest organization Extinction Rebellion, showing Brown sitting and laying on top of the plane.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

An Extinction Rebellion protester climbed on top of a British Airways jet at London City Airport on Monday, lying down until police and firefighters came to pull him down.

The protester, identified by Extinction Rebellion as James Brown, a Paralympian, live-streamed a video on Facebook as he climbed on top of the Embraer jet.

 

"I hate heights, I'm s------g myself," he said in the video. "This is all about the climate and ecological crisis."

Another video posted by Extinction Rebellion UK showed Brown sitting and then laying down on top of the plane.

The stunt was part of several days of protests throughout London, including at London City Airport. Earlier in the day, police arrested people blocking the airport entrances or gluing themselves to the floor, according to BBC.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick described the action as "reckless, stupid and dangerous," BBC reported.

Another protester on an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin stood up shortly after the plane pushed back from the gate and walked up and down the aisle, talking about climate change, BBC reported. The plane returned to the gate and police removed the protester.

SEE ALSO: An off-duty firefighter on a flight to Los Angeles saved a fellow passenger who suffered a cardiac arrest mid-flight and had no pulse for at least 30 minutes

Join the conversation about this story »

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Legendary horse trainer Bob Baffert, who's trained 5 Kentucky Derby winners and 2 Triple Crown champions, says he's so successful because he never takes vacations

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 2:50pm

Bob Baffert is one of the most prominent figures in American horse racing.

The Hall of Fame trainer has coached two Triple Crown winners, Justify and American Pharoah, as well as three other Kentucky Derby winners. Baffert trains horses for owners that include the Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai and the Magnier family of Coolmore farm in Ireland, one of the world's premier thoroughbred breeding farms. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2009.

Throughout his 40-year thoroughbred training career, Baffert has trained horses that have earned more than $292 million in purse winnings, according to Equibase.

At the Keeneland September yearling sale in Lexington, Kentucky, where buyers from 26 countries dropped more than $360 million on 2,855 one-year-old horses, Baffert told Business Insider that he attributes some of his success to pure luck. But the rest of it comes down to the sheer time he puts into his work, he says.

"I work hard at it seven days a week," Baffert said. "I don't take vacations."

For Baffert, the rationale is simple.

"If you want to play at this top level, you have to stay with it," Baffert said. "But I don't have a problem with it because I love what I'm doing. I get to work with horses, be around them, you know. When you love horses as much as I do, you want to be around them. I mean, you can't beat it." 

Read more: I spent 4 days in the 'horse capital of the world,' where the barns look more like estates and billionaires convene for the world's largest horse sale. Here's what life looks like in Kentucky's second-biggest city.

Baffert's claim that he never takes vacations doesn't seem to be an exaggeration. 

He and his wife, Jill Baffert, never took a honeymoon after their marriage in 2002, Tom Pedulla reported for the Times. 

"We would never take a vacation because we could go somewhere physically, but Bob's mind would never go," Jill Baffert told The New York Times in 2012. "He would always be at work."

Baffert might not take vacations, but studies have shown that breaks are good for workers' health and well-being

Multiple studies have shown that taking vacation is good for workers' health and well-being, and that overworking can lead to health problems. Researchers who studied work habits of more than 600,000 people in the US, UK, and Australia found that those who work more than 55 hours per week were 33% more likely to suffer a stroke and 13% more likely to have a heart attack than those who work between 35 and 40 hours per week.

Taking vacations can even improve productivity. The respite of taking time off can increase work performance by as much as 80%, researcher Mark Rosekind of Alertness Solutions told CNN.

Baffert had a heart attack in 2012 at age 59, after which he reportedly started exercising regularly and eating less red meat. But according to The New York Times, he remained "unwilling to break from a work schedule that never ends."

Baffert has been caught up in a horse racing doping scandal in recent weeks after the Times reported that Justify, the second horse Baffert-trained horse tow in the Triple Crown, Justify failed a drug test weeks before claiming the victory in 2018. The California Horse Racing Board is accused of dropping the case instead of immediately reporting the failed test, which would have disqualified Justify. 

Through his attorney, Baffert has said the failed drug test was due to "environmental contamination." In a statement to CNN via his attorney, Baffert said he "unequivocally reject[s] any implication" that the drug, scopolamine, was ever intentionally given to Justify or any of his horses, and said he had no influence on any decisions made by the horse racing board.

SEE ALSO: I toured one of Kentucky's most legendary horse farms, where horses live in immaculate barns, security teams sweep the grounds at night, and Secretariat is buried. Here's what it looks like.

DON'T MISS: I spent 4 days in the 'horse capital of the world,' where the barns look more like estates and billionaires convene for the world's largest horse sale. Here's what life looks like in Kentucky's second-biggest city.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Austin's homeless crisis is so dire, a nonprofit built an $18 million tiny home village to get the chronically homeless off the streets. Take a look inside Community First Village.

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 2:49pm

  • On the east side of Austin, Texas, 180 formerly homeless residents live in 200-square-foot tiny homes at Community First Village.
  • They pay rent that averages about $300 a month, go to work thanks to on-site employment opportunities, and feed off of a 2-acre farm.
  • The village is the brainchild of founder Alan Graham, who spent years serving the city's homeless before pooling $18 million in privately-donated funds to construct Community First in 2015.
  • It's not the first tiny home village used to house homeless populations in the US, but it is still unique in its concept.
  • As the name implies, the project takes a community-first — a spinoff of the housing-first term— approach to create a sense of community amongst residents.
  • "There's a philosophy that if we build housing and then put people in housing, that that mitigates the problem," Graham told Business Insider. But he said it takes more than just homes.
  • Take a look inside the tiny home community.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

SEE ALSO: San Francisco residents bought boulders to deter homeless people on their block. The city says the rocks weren't big enough.

On a sunny Thursday morning in Austin, Texas, Robin Draper is scurrying across Community First Village preparing tiny homes for their new, soon-to-be-formerly-homeless tenants.

The 27-acre village houses the most vulnerable of the capital city's homeless population, and in an hour more will come off the streets and move into their approximately 200-square-foot abodes.

Draper fiddles with a pot of flowers under a windowsill and neatly organizes the incoming residents' toiletries, food, and other items in the home.

She can relate to the new residents that are moving in — Draper was homeless for years, weaving in and out of rehab centers and housing services before becoming a resident and staff member at Community First.

"It was so hard to be homeless," Draper said. "You had to do everything. You had to hustle for everything — shoes, socks. I mean it was just brutal."

The Community First project has been ushering in a portion of Austin's chronic homeless population into homes on its property in East Austin since 2015.

Austin has seen rapid growth in recent years, especially in the tech sector, and an increase in housing prices has helped spur a rise in homelessness.

Source: Business Insider



According to a KVUE Austin report, the homeless population grew from 6,232 to 7,992 between 2013 and 2018 at a rate of 28.2%. That's more than double the rate that the city's overall population grew during that time.

Source: KVUE



Austin's rise in homelessness is comparable to San Francisco's — another city known for its urban homeless crisis — where homelessness rose by about 30% since 2017.

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle



Alan Graham, Community First founder and CEO of its Christian-based parent organization, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, picked up on that urgency after years of serving Austin's homeless community prior to launching Community First Village.

And while he told Business Insider that affordable housing, living wages, mental health issues, and drug and alcohol addiction are all very real factors included in the conversation surrounding homelessness, there's another source of trauma that is to blame.

"We believe that the single greatest cause of homelessness is a profound, catastrophic loss of family," Graham said.

Every person that the organization has moved off of the streets of Austin has come from some kind of traumatic family background, Graham said, which means that providing food and shelter is important, but addressing a need for genuine human connection is the key.

"Until we connect those dots, the transactional things that we try to do to solve the unsolvable is putting a Band Aid on a carotid artery, in my humble opinion," Graham said.

So the innovative project takes a community-first — a spinoff of the housing-first term — approach to helping its residents exit homelessness for good.

The entire project, from the village layout to its housing structure to its on-site programs and employment opportunities, is designed to foster a sense of community amongst its residents.

"What we say is that we built a 250-bedroom, $18 million mansion," Graham said.

The fact that residents all share similar life experiences, with many having struggled with trauma, mental health issues, drug and alcohol abuse, also helps each other heal and cope, Graham said.

And it seems to be working — Draper said there's about an 87% retention rate in the village.

On top of that, deep-pocketed donors believe in the vision — the $18 million needed for the initial build came from privately-donated funds. The same goes for the village's annual operating costs, which Graham said clock in at $6 million.

Source: People



Graham said that there's no government funding involved, which frees Community First of certain governmental requirements that are usually tied up in housing projects for the homeless in the US.

But Graham said national leaders have been among the visitors that have ventured to witness the Community First model for themselves, which Graham said is part of the grand vision of the village: to pass on that information in hopes that the community concept could be replicated elsewhere.

"The goal is to teach — our goal is to let people know that there are other ways to deal with this," Graham said.

There are about 180 residents and a number of what are called Missionals — on-site Christian missionaries serving the residents — living amongst each other in around 240 units, most of which are tiny homes and some are RVs.

Graham counts himself among the village's residents — he and his wife, who also works full-time on the site, sold their home in an affluent West Austin neighborhood to move into the village.

Each home costs on average anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000 to build, Thomas Aitchison, the communications director for Mobile Loaves and Fishes, told Business Insider.

The residents have their "bedroom," or home, and can reach their bathroom "down the hallway" (there's no plumbing in the tiny homes) by walking a short distance down the road to one of the five communal restroom and shower facilities.

There's a "media room," or outdoor movie theatre, up toward the front of the property where residents and the public can view movie screenings.

There's an art studio for residents and Missionals to sculpt, paint, draw, and potter.

And communal kitchens and laundry units are scattered throughout the neighborhood.

Two acres of organic gardens provide fresh produce that's given to residents at regular farmer's markets within the community.

"I call it the better-than-Whole-Foods department," Aitchison said.

And hundreds of volunteers come out weekly to help out with whatever needs tending to, Aitchison said.

Local support and involvement have proven to be an important element in the village's success so far, Graham said.

About 10 or so tiny homes along the front edge of the village are listed on Airbnb for rent to allow the public the opportunity to visit and experience for themselves what the village is like — and to interact with the residents, Aitchison said.

The rentals back up to the outdoor movie theatre. The cinema company Alamo Drafthouse donated the screen and equipment used for regular movie showings.

Pro-bono lawyers in the area visit to help residents prepare their end-of-life documents. Aitchison said most residents legally opt to be laid to rest in what is called a columbarium.

It's where residents can choose to have their cremated remains interred when they die. It stands in a central location in the village.

Stylists from a local mom-and-pop hair salon visit the property regularly to receive residents as clients in an on-site barbershop.

And local philanthropist and billionaire John Paul DeJoria — the mastermind behind the Paul Mitchell empire — donates his top-notch hair products to the salon for stylists to use when residents come in for service.

DeJoria also recently donated a whopping $1.6 million to the village's Phase II expansion that will see 300 more residents move into the village.

Six of those new homes will be built by Austin startup Icon, which constructs 3D-printed homes that Icon cofounder Evan Loomis told Business Insider can be completed in about 27 hours.

DeJoria's donation will specifically be funneled into the construction of a new building that will serve as the Entrepreneurial Hub of the village's existing Community Works program.

Through it, residents can sell handcrafted goods, like jewelry, woodwork, ironwork, and other items. Residents receive 100% of the profit from the sales of the goods they craft.

It's all part of the village's broader goal of providing residents with an avenue to rediscover a sense of purpose in life and a way to earn what the folks at Community First call a "dignified income."

Resident Ute Dittemer's paintings are some of the most well-known pieces of art on the property.

She told Business Insider that she sells some of her paintings for around $80 through the Community Works program and overall makes good profit from them.

Dittemer said she didn't receive academic training for her art. She's entirely self-taught, having picked up a paintbrush long before she became homeless.

A German native, she moved to the US in 2005. She and her husband experienced homelessness before getting involved in the Community First project.

"They should make it a requirement that everybody in the US has to be homeless for at least six months," Dittemer said. "You would see how fast it would be eliminated."

The on-site auto shop, which is open to the public, works similarly to the Community Works program in that it gives residents an easily-accessible place of employment.

Bennie Parks, aged 52, works in the garage two days out of the week performing oil changes and car inspections, among other services.

Parks said he first became homeless after a bad divorce from his wife years ago. He said he struggled with drug use and drug dealing as well. But about a year ago, he said he was accepted into the Community First program and moved into the village.

Depending on the hours, mechanics can earn up to $1,500 a month working in the on-site auto shop — and it gives Parks regular access to a lifelong joy of his: cars.

"It was like finally, you know, I've got someplace to go and lay my head down — I can start being a human being again," Parks said.

That second chance has been afforded to many of the residents that live here.

Draper may be one of the best examples of that.

Draper said she was homeless for years and struggled with alcohol and drug abuse while living on the streets of first Houston and then Austin.

But she said she officially got off the streets in 2009, the same year she got into the Community First project.

She worked as a contractor in the village before becoming such an integral part of the community that she moved onto the property as a Missional with her nine-year-old daughter, Avery.

They live in an olive green-painted home with a cat, a rabbit, and a dog named Scruffy.

The efforts made by Graham and his organization to house and serve the homeless haven't come without some pushback.

Graham said the city of Austin has always been supportive of the project's mission, but some nearby residents felt otherwise.

"We always came up against the 'not in my backyard' movement — and that's a killer," Graham said, referring to a national sentiment among some who wish to keep housing for the homeless and lower-income folk away from their neighborhoods.

Source: The New York Times



In April 2008, the city of Austin unanimously voted to grant Graham a long term ground lease on a 17-acre campsite where the city's homeless could live in tent shelters, Graham said.

That's how Draper met Graham — he invited her to live on the campground, which isn't far from where Community First Village is now located.

But then at a neighborhood meeting, angry residents not wanting that kind of project near them were in an uproar over the 17-acre ground lease.

"We were assaulted and spit on," Graham said. He had to be escorted out of the meeting by police, and the proposal for the ground lease was suspended.

It took four more years for Graham to find a new piece of land, but he said he eventually closed on the property that is now Community First Village.

And this time residents would live in tiny homes instead of tents. Ground officially broke on the site in October 2014.

"It's totally different out here because we have an office and property manager and there are rules," Draper said. "This is a different scenario."

Graham said the people moving into the village have to fit a certain criteria: unaccompanied, no children (unless you're a Missional, like Draper,) have to have a disabling condition, and have lived on the streets of Austin for at least one year.

Graham said on average, Community First is capable of onboarding about 10 people a month.

The village is strict on rent payments. Not paying the average $300 in rent is one of the ways a resident will get kicked out of the village, Draper said.

"We love you, and we want you to make it, but if you're not doing your part, then what about the rest of the community?" Draper said.

Partaking in drugs and alcohol though is permitted, provided that you do it in the privacy of your home.

But Graham said residents are expected to behave civilly, and there are still efforts to aggressively minimize the amount of drugs that enter the community.

Draper said that her past drug and alcohol use is behind her.

She works in the community, spends time with her neighbors, and every other weekend, she visits her partner of 13 years in jail.

He's currently in prison serving a two-year term for a DWI.

Draper said that she hopes her partner can move into the village sometime in the future — especially to spend more time with Avery, who is his daughter with Draper.

On the day we met with Draper, she said she was hoping to hear news about a shortened jail sentence for him, who'd been imprisoned since February.

"I think today might be a good day for us," Draper said.

I quit my day job 4 months ago to become a freelance writer. Here's what my family of 4 spends in a typical week.

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 2:31pm

  • Clint Proctor recently quit his day job and became a full-time freelance writer. His wife, Kendall, stays home with their two boys, Landon and Connor.
  • Except for the mortgage on their home in Daytona Beach, Florida, they don't have any other debts, which frees up cash flow to spend on things that they enjoy.
  • For Business Insider's "Real Money" series, Proctor tracked his family's spending during a typical week. They spent $1,175 on their mortgage, food, and some business expenses.
  • Want to share a week of your spending? Email yourmoney@businessinsider.com.

My wife and I have always taken budgeting very seriously. For the first several years of our marriage, we budgeted carefully out of sheer necessity. Out of college, I chose a career in ministry. 

And that choice put a fairly low ceiling on our household income. We were both OK with that but we also knew that we'd need to find creative ways to save

So we followed a strict budget and researched all the savings hacks we could find. And all the work paid off. Even on a limited income, we were able to live quite comfortably. By saving my wife's income during our first few years of marriage, we were able to save up for the down payment on our home in Daytona Beach, Florida.

After our first son was born, my wife decided to stay home with him. So, all of a sudden, we were now down to one income and budgeting became vital once again.

In June of this year, I launched out as a full-time personal finance freelance writer. For the first time in my life, I don't have a salary and we're dealing with an inconsistent income. So seven years into our marriage, budgeting has once again become a major focus.

Here's a peek at what our "normal" monthly spending looks like.

Thankfully, the freelance writing business has done well and my income has actually increased since leaving my day job. But we still strive to be conservative with our spending.

We also don't have any student loans and our cars are paid off. Those are two big expenses many families deal with that we don't need to worry about. Also, since my wife stays home with our two boys, we don't need to pay for childcare.

Third, we have a low mortgage payment — under $650. I realize that in some areas, it would be impossible to find housing that is so affordable. But it definitely helps us keep our budget low.

Fourth, freelance writing happens to be a business with low overhead. I don't work in a profession where I need to rent office space or buy inventory. 

However, I do have a few business expenses  for things like invoicing and accounting software, email and cloud file storage, and web hosting for my personal blog, The Wallet Wise Guy. And it just so happens that I had an unusual amount of business expenses this month (more on that later).

Some of our expenses like insurance, home improvement, car repairs, and vacations aren't necessarily spent every month. For instance, if we don't have any car repairs, we simply move the full $150 we budgeted for to a dedicated savings account. That way when a repair pops up, the money is sitting there waiting to be used.



This week we spent $1,175 — roughly 29% of our monthly budget.

One of the reasons the percentage was so high is because our mortgage happened to hit this week.

We also had a few unusual business expenses and our restaurant cost was a bit higher than normal as well. Here's how it all went down.



On Monday, we decided to find out what the Popeyes chicken sandwich buzz was all about.

I was working away on an article on Monday morning when my brother sent me a link to an article about the Popeyes chicken sandwich craze

I'm a huge chicken sandwich fan, and I happen to like Popeyes too. So even though we typically don't eat out on Monday, we simply couldn't resist the temptation to check things out. And we didn't regret the decision! Yes, I am firmly in the camp that believes the Popeyes chicken sandwich is the best (don't even try to convince me otherwise).

Other than our impromptu Popeyes visit, our only other expense was my life insurance premium ($20.91).



On Tuesday, my wife convinced me to upgrade my business wardrobe.

As a personal finance writer and blogger, there's only one main business conference that I attend each year, called FinCon, and it just happens to be in September. So one of the common themes you'll notice throughout this week's diary is that we had several expenses that were related to my upcoming trip.

One of those expenses took place on Tuesday. My wife was insistent that I needed to buy some new business pants for my trip. My current slacks and khakis were pretty old and faded so she convinced me to do some clothes shopping (something that I typically resist like the plague). 

We went to Belk and bought two pairs of pants ($35.38). Although my business trip was the motivation for buying the pants, we placed the expense under our "clothing" budget.

After that, we headed home and tried out a new orange chicken recipe, which was super yummy. Then we put the kids down for bed and hunkered down for some Netflix and chill time.



On Wednesday, we enjoyed a long walk in the neighborhood with the kids.

You don't have to spend money to have fun. For example, one of our neighbors that's about a 15-minute walk away from us owns a horse. Our boys love to walk down to see the horse and feed him carrots and celery. 

The whole experience typically takes about an hour, it's completely FREE, and the kids love it! After we finished with the walk, we ate leftover orange chicken for dinner.

Thursday included another business expense to help me prep for my trip. I knew I was going to need to order some business cards. But beforehand, I wanted to update my website logo.

Design work is totally out of my domain. So I asked a personal friend of mine who has experience with design if she'd be willing to come up with some ideas and she did an awesome job! I happily sent her $100 via Venmo for her work.

The only other money we spent on Wednesday was for gas ($27.45) and the monthly phone payment on my wife's phone ($30.00).



On Thursday, I spend the majority of my workday at Starbucks before hitting the gym.

As a freelance writer, I spend a lot of time at coffee shops. 

I especially love going to Starbucks because I get free refills when I pay using their app. I'll get two or three refills per visit, which helps me get my money's worth (and makes me feel less guilty about how much money I spend each month on coffee). This particular morning I didn't have enough money left on my app to buy my coffee, so I added $10.

After work, my wife and I headed over to our gym. And it just so happens that our gym membership fee hit on Thursday as well. 

Our membership fee is a little high at $70. But the reason we're willing to pay that much is that childcare is included. So our kids get to play on inflatables while we work out, which is awesome. After our workout, we picked up a few ingredients at Aldi and headed home for dinner.



On Friday, my wife and our son enjoyed a mommy-son day at Sea World.

We live about an hour away from Orlando. So, in June of 2018, we bought 15-month passes to Sea World. We had a blast with them but they were finally set to expire on the coming Monday. 

We wanted to use them one more time for they expired. But we had made prior commitments for Saturday and Sunday and I had too many assignments due on Friday. So we decided that my wife would go with our 4-year old, Landon, while our 2-year old, Connor, spent the day with Grandma. 

Landon and Kendall had never had a "mom-and-son-only day" at Sea World before, so he was uber-excited. They had a great time. And, since park entrance was free, it was actually a pretty affordable day-trip. They hit McDonald's on the way up ($6.47) and ate in the park once as well ($19.43). She had to fill up the gas tank once too ($32.93).

Meanwhile, I worked at Dunkin Donuts in the morning ($2.29) went to Mickey D's for lunch ($5.64). We ate dinner together at home later that night. Speaking of our home, our mortgage came out on Friday as well ($643.83), which was our largest expense of the week.



On Saturday, I helped my brother move and spent some quality time with him.

My younger brother received a job promotion that required him to move to Colorado Springs. 

Up until his move, our entire extended family still lived in the same town. So, while we were happy for him, we were also sad to see him leave. On Saturday, several family members and friends gathered at his apartment to help load his furniture into the U-Haul. 

Later on that night, we were able to spend some quality "brother time" together and I treated him to dinner at one of our favorite wing joints ($18.11). Other than that, my only other expense was my new business cards ($80.68).



On Sunday, we went to church and spent time with family.

On Sunday, we went to church in the morning and then spent the rest of the day at my parents' house. The boys had a blast playing tag with my dad and jumping in the pool for an hour or so. And we were able to spend some more time with my brother before he moved on Monday.

So we basically spent no money at all ... until the very end of the night. My wife and I were settling down at about 8:45 p.m. for an evening TV show when we realized something terrible — we were out of coffee! 

This simply would not do. I rushed off to Aldi and bought a bag of coffee before they closed. I picked up a gallon of milk while I was there too ($7.40).

If you're wondering why we didn't have more trips to the grocery store during the week, here's why: We try to buy most of our grocery items in bulk. We make one big trip to Sam's Club at the beginning of the month and do our best to make things last. Things will still pop up here and there, but we've found that bulk grocery shopping helps us avoid overspending throughout the month. 

Although we spent less than $10 the entire day, Sunday was one of the most enjoyable days of our week. It served as a healthy reminder that quality time with family is what brings us the most joy in life. And that's something that all of us can enjoy to the fullest, regardless of our incomes or budgets.



Weed stocks plummet after Canadian cannabis company Hexo withdraws its profit guidance for 2020

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 2:19pm

  • Weed stocks fell on Thursday after Hexo, a Canadian cannabis company, withdrew its full-year revenue guidance at an investor event Thursday, citing market uncertainty.
  • Shares of Hexo fell as much as 26% on the news. The stocks of Tilray, Aurora Cannabis, Canopy Growth, and Cronos also slipped. 
  • The weed industry is facing increased uncertainty and the environment will likely continue to be difficult, according to W. Andrew Carter, an analyst at Stifel. 
  • Sign up here to get our cannabis newsletter Cultivated in your inbox every Friday.

Weed stocks are not going high today. 

Shares of Tilray, Canopy Growth, Aurora Cannabis, and Cronos fell sharply after Hexo, another Canadian cannabis company, withdrew its revenue guidance for the year because of uncertainty and difficulty in the  market.

Here's how much each company is down today: 

Hexo's Thursday announcement is "another headline damaging the industry's credibility," wrote W. Andrew Carter of Stifel in a Thursday note on the cannabis industry. "We believe the macro environment will continue to be difficult." 

There've been a number of events recently that have weighed down shares of cannabis company stock, Carter wrote.

One is that companies are facing increasing pricing pressure as competition ramps up, which is impacting sales. In its preliminary update for the full year, Hexo suggested it now expects C$14.5 million to C416.5 million in revenue, below the consensus estimate of C$24.8 million and the guidance of C$25.9 million it offered earlier in the year. 

In addition, the vaping epidemic in the US has spilled over into Canada, Carter wrote, especially after some regulators in the US banned or implemented harsher rules around vapor products. "Now, all eyes are on Health Canada to see how the federal regulator will handle this category," Carter wrote. 

While there's limited potential for a long term ban of vapes, Carter writes that Health Canada will likely scrutinize vapes more, which could add costs or delays. The provinces could call for regulatory action as well, he said. 

There are two companies that Carter thinks stand a better chance of weathering the storm of sector weakness — they are Canopy Growth and Cronos Group. Both have strong cash positions, Carter wrote, of roughly C$3 billion and C$2 billion, respectively. This allows "each company to continue investing aggressively behind their businesses and to capitalize on any opportunities," Carter said. 

Canopy Growth also recently named David Klein, the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Constellation Brands, as Chairman of its Board of Directors. This is a positive, Carter writes, as Constellation has affirmed its commitment to the cannabis company after a few rocky months that led to the abrupt exit of former CEO Bruce Linton. 

"In this difficult category with a tainted history, the governance models for both Canopy Growth and Cronos Group are differentiators with boards that provide key assurances to other investors," Carter wrote. They also sport the ability to take quick, decisive action, he said. 

Read more: An expert who studies venture capital says the WeWork 'smackdown' won't change the way the industry works — but he's telling investors how they can avoid the same mistake

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The White House eyes new economic penalties against China as trade talks kick off

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 1:59pm

  • The Trump administration has continued to weigh a variety of additional punitive measures it could take against the Chinese economy.
  • That has cast uncertainty around recently resumed efforts to defuse trade tensions between the two sides. 
  • Potential proposals aim to limit investment flows into China and increase financial scrutiny of companies based there. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Trump administration has continued to weigh a variety of additional punitive measures it could take against the Chinese economy, casting uncertainty around recently resumed efforts to defuse trade tensions between the two sides. 

White House officials have moved forward with discussions on a plan to limit investment flows into China, alongside a series of separate but related policy drafts, a source familiar with the matter told Business Insider. The New York Times reported on Thursday that the administration was also considering ways to increase financial scrutiny of Chinese companies on various fronts. 

That could happen through shifts toward increasingly severe — or even criminal — punishments for financial-disclosure violations and broader criteria for a company to be blacklisted, according to The Times. Other proposals outlined in a circulated memo on the plan, which was drafted by the informal White House adviser Michael Pillsbury, hope to restrict capital flows within and outside mainland China. 

Pillsbury and the White House press office declined to comment on the matter on Thursday. When asked about the plan to broaden and tighten financial rules for Chinese companies, a Commerce Department spokesperson said there were "no announcements to make at this time."

Such measures would be seen as a significant economic escalation from the US, which has so far used tariffs as its main source of leverage in its dispute with China. The two sides have levied tariffs on thousands of each other's products and vowed to raise them further next week and in December.

Read more: China is reportedly open to a partial trade deal with the US — but only if Trump scales back planned tariffs

Bloomberg first reported on the potential US proposal to restrict portfolio flows into China, which was publicly disputed by the Trump administration but has been confirmed by several news outlets, including Business Insider. 

Early on Thursday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin began a 13th round of economic negotiations with a delegation led by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. The two sides have struggled since early 2018 to forge any concrete compromises on structural issues, such as technology and intellectual-property rules.

Trump announced he would also meet with Liu on Friday, lifting optimism toward the discussions after a disputed report that China could leave earlier than planned. In public statements, the president has regularly shifted between a willingness to reach a deal with China and the possibility of a prolonged dispute. 

"Big day of negotiations with China," the president wrote on Twitter. "They want to make a deal, but do I? I meet with the Vice Premier tomorrow at The White House."

Read more: The world's most accurate economic forecaster sees a 'prolonged global slowdown' on the horizon — and warns it can only be narrowly avoided

SEE ALSO: China is reportedly open to a partial trade deal with the US — but only if Trump scales back planned tariffs

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A look at the nonbank and alternative lending industry in 2019 (WFC, BAC, C, JPM, USB, PYPL)

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 1:32pm
  • Business Insider Intelligence is launching its brand new Banking coverage in early September.
  • To obtain a free preview of our Banking Briefing, please click here.

Nonbanks and alternative lending institutions are making their way into the banking industry – posing a major threat to incumbent banks. Alt lenders' ability to utilize technology and provide efficient and effective lending services to underserved businesses and individuals is allowing them to penetrate the market and find success.

Below we break down what alternative lending is, list the top alt lenders in the industry, and detail how alternative financial institutions are threatening the dominance of incumbent banks.

What is alternative lending?

Small businesses typically struggle when attempting to receive financing, so oftentimes they turn to alternative lending – where funds are provided outside of traditional banking. Nonbanks – financial institutions that do not have a full banking license – also offer different lending options to smaller businesses. 

Nonbanks can engage in typical bank-related services like credit card operations and various lending services, such as mortgage lending. These lenders provide users with easier access to obtaining loans — especially for consumers who may not have the best credit.

Nonbank and Alternative lending industry trends

The presence of alternative lenders and digitally advanced nonbanks is continuing to grow in the banking industry – pressuring traditional financial institutions to digitize their own lending options.

According to Oracle's Digital Demand in Retail Banking study of 5,200 consumers from 13 countries, over 40% of customers surveyed think nonbanks can better assist them with personal money management and investment needs, and 30% of respondents who haven't tried a nonbank platform said they're open to trying one.

Alt lenders are also garnering attention, particularly from small- and medium-businesses (SMBs). According to data reported by SME Finance Forum, in 2018 there was funding gap of $5 trillion between the financing needs of SMBs and the institution-based financing available to them — causing SMBs to seek alternative funding options. 

Alt lenders use technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning to gather data and onboard customers, and Business Insider Intelligence's SMB Lending Report explains that if incumbents don't explore technology advancements, alt lenders could begin taking a larger share of the market.

Types of nonbank alternative loans

Nonbanks offer customers and businesses a variety of loan options including: mortgage loans, small business alternative loans, and peer-to-peer loans. 

Nonbank mortgage loan

Due to the regulation of mortgages, it can be difficult for incumbents to digitize the lending process, and the inability of traditional banks to adapt to the digital landscape has lead to an increase in alt lenders supplying mortgage loans to consumers. 

Business Insider Intelligence's Online Mortgage Lending Report found that the top five US banks – Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase, US Bancorp, and Citigroup – only accounted for 21% of total mortgage originations, which is a huge decline from their 50% combined market share in 2011.

Alt lenders are a threat to incumbents because they can provide traditional financial products, like mortgage loans, to consumers at a lower cost with more relaxed eligibility criteria. This combined with their technological offerings allows alt lenders to provide mortgage loans in a more attractive way. 

Small business alternative loan

Loan applications from microbusinesses and small businesses are commonly rejected by traditional financial institutions. Due to the looser regulations for alt lenders, they can capitalize on the high demand of smaller businesses. 

According to a survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, in 2016 only 58% of loan requests from small businesses were approved by incumbent banks, compared to 71% approved by alt lenders that same year. 

Alt lenders have the ability to leverage a broad set of data and machine learning — allowing them to reach further into the small business lending market than incumbent banks. 

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) loan

Peer-to-Peer loans – one of the most popular forms of alternative lending – bring together a borrower, an investor, and a partner bank through an online platform. Leveraging metrics, like credit scores and social media activity, P2P platforms can link borrowers to lenders at suitable interest rates.

P2P lending platforms facilitate interactions without actually owning the loans – allowing them to keep costs low. This quality is particularly attractive to customers looking to refinance existing debt at the lowest rate possible. 

Top nonbank and alternative lenders
  • SoFi: This startup initially focused on student loan refinancing, but has expanded to include mortgage loan refinancing, mortgages, and personal loans. In 2019 SoFi closed a $500 million funding round led by Qatar Investment Authority — posing a threat to incumbent banks.
  • Quicken Loans: This established nonbank is known for its Rocket Mortgage, an online mortgage application that takes less than10 minutes to complete. In Q4 2017, Quicken Loans became the largest US residential mortgage originator by volume — even beating out Wells Fargo.
  • Kabbage: This was one of the first online lending platforms and uses third-party data to avoid SMBs submitting wrong information. The startup offers business-to-business operations, and in July 2019 it secured $200 million revolving credit facility after already receiving a $700 million securitization agreement three months prior. 
  • PayPal: PayPal is a popular P2P lending service poised to grow at a 42.7% five-year compound annual growth rate to hit $574 billion by 2023. PayPal also owns Venmo, a P2P lending app commonly used by millennials, and is on pace to drive $100 billion in volume in 2019.
Alternative lending market

Even though traditional banks still hold the largest market share for business lending, growth has continued to slow – suggesting an increased demand for alt lending platforms. Through technology that uses AI and machine learning, alt lenders are able to efficiently onboard customers.

According to Business Insider Inteligence's SMB Lending Report, SMBs make up nearly all of private sector businesses in the US and employ 60% of all workers in the country. However, SMBs usually have trouble when applying for loans at incumbent banks and instead turn to alternative lending platforms. 

Due to the massive SMB market size, alternative lending companies are positioned to threaten to incumbent banks, and unless traditional banking institutions update their lending practices, alt lending technologies could potentially overhaul legacy processes and gain a greater percent of the overall market share.

Banking Industry Analysis

With the integration of digital technology, so many facets of the banking industry are undergoing constant change, and it's critical for top decision makers to stay informed on the rise of alternative lending trends. That's why Business Insider Intelligence is launching Banking, our latest research coverage area that will keep you up to date on how nonbanks and alternative lending are impacting the banking industry.

Click here to obtain an exclusive FREE preview of Banking!

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Apple shares hit a 1-year high amid spiking optimism around iPhone 11 demand (AAPL)

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 1:26pm

  • Apple's stock price climbed as much as 1.5% to a one-year high on Thursday amid spiking optimism around iPhone 11 demand.
  • Several Wall Street analysts have increased their price targets on Apple in recent weeks, citing higher-than-expected orders for the company's new slate of phones. 
  • Shares of Apple gained more than 2% last week on a report that the company asked iPhone 11 suppliers to increase production by as much as 10%, or 8 million units. 
  • Watch Apple trade live on Markets Insider.

Apple's stock price hit a one-year high on Thursday, jumping as much as 1.5%, as investors continue to be optimistic about demand for the new iPhone 11 models. 

Several Wall Street analysts have issued price upgrades or reiterated bullish targets on Apple in recent weeks amid stronger-than-expected demand for the new crop of iPhones.

Here are some of the firms that have either increased price targets or reiterated bullish ratings on Apple in recent weeks: 

  • Nomura: Increased price target to $205, up from $185
  • Canaccord Genuity: Bumped PT to $260, up from $240
  • Longbow Research: Upgraded to "buy" and established a $260 PT
  • Piper Jaffray: Reiterated $243 PT and "overweight" rating
  • Wedbush: Maintained $245 PT and "outperform" rating

Nomura Instinet boosted its price target on Apple earlier this week citing solid iPhone 11 demand based on shipping times for the upcoming models. 

"Shipment times for the 11 and 11 Pro have held above 2018 levels since launch in both the U.S. and China," Nomura analyst Jeffrey Kvaal said in a note to clients on Monday. "We expect the stronger iPhone volumes to boost wearable demand and AppleCare subscriptions."

The optimism around iPhone 11 demand picked up last week on a report that Apple asked its suppliers to increase production by up to 10%, or 8 million units. The request came amid an influx of orders for Apple's lower-end iPhone 11 model and the iPhone 11 pro. 

Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said its likely China is one of the main drivers of the uptick as Chinese consumers are attracted to the lower price point dual-camera functions, and the array of color options. 

"We continue to believe iPhone units could exceed 185 million for FY20 based on the demand trajectory we have been seeing over the last few weeks," Ives said in note to clients on October 4. 

Shares of Apple are up more than 45% year-to-date. 

Read more: A group of small tech stocks is quietly dominating the FANGs after lagging behind for years. Here's why a Wall Street expert is convinced its gains are just getting started.

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NOW WATCH: Jeff Bezos is worth over $160 billion — here's how the world's richest man makes and spends his money

UK Tech 100: The 100 most influential people shaping British technology in 2019

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 2:00am

  • Welcome to Business Insider's UK Tech 100.
  • Every year, we track down and showcase the 100 most influential and interesting people impacting the British technology industry.
  • From budding entrepreneurs to intrepid regulators, these are the top 100 people you really need to know in the UK tech scene today.
  • Rockstar engineers, ambitious politicians, fearless campaigners and rising TikTok stars all made the list in 2019.
  • Keep reading to see who's really making a difference — and who's number one.

Throughout 2019, the British technology and startup scene has been roiled by powerful forces.

Political uncertainty, the the distorting financial impact of mega-funders like SoftBank, and increased public skepticism about tech's utopian promises have all left a mark.

It would be easy to feel gloomy. But the technology industry remains a major bright spot for the UK economically, bringing in £184 billion in revenue last year. And the sector is full to the brim of exciting entrepreneurs chasing world-changing ideas, hitting new milestones and breaking new ground.

Every year, Business Insider publishes the UK Tech 100 — our list of the 100 most interesting, innovative, and influential people shaping the UK tech scene, whether that's visionary founders building global firms out of Britain, or regulators grappling with Silicon Valley titans.

This year's constellation of entrepreneurs, technologists, investors, scientists, and critics demonstrates that the UK is easily capable of building a wide range of fast-growing, global businesses that attract serious investment both here and abroad — while also leading the pack on grappling with tech's social impacts.

Our ranking focuses on those who have done cool or impactful work since last year's UK Tech 100 in October 2018— whether that's building a fascinating and fast-growing company, having a good eye for red-hot investments, or riding the mercurial wave of internet virality.

Keep reading to see who made the UK Tech 100 in 2019 — and who's number one.

Editing by Shona Ghosh, Rob Price, and Steven Tweedie. Jake Kanter, Callum Burroughs, Shona Ghosh, and Rob Price contributed reporting.

Curious to see how the list has changed? Click here to read the 2018 edition of Business Insider’s UK Tech 100

100. Holly H, Britain’s biggest TikTok star

Holly H is a superstar, but probably one that anyone over the age of 25 won't recognize. That's partly because she, like other social media stars, is redefining what it means to be a celebrity.

The 23-year-old is the biggest British creator on TikTok, the Chinese app that lets people share short and sometimes weird video clips. TikTok is the fastest-growing social media app globally, and is popular with young people put off by weird YouTube drama and the controlled superficiality of Instagram.

With nearly 16 million followers, she does what a lot of TikTokkers do well: lip-syncs to songs, dances, and makes comedy skits with her pals — all hyped with snappy editing and simple effects.

According to Vice, Holly H originally hails from West Sussex, has her mother for a manager, and now makes all her money via her online fame.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @HollyH



99. Kelu (Eric) Liu created a delivery service that's aimed at Chinese consumers

Kelu Liu is a Nottingham graduate and the brains behind HungryPanda, an online food delivery service that brings Chinese food to Chinese students. It's an interesting twist on standard food delivery services such as Deliveroo, which partner up with a variety of local restaurants to deliver different types of food. But HungryPanda very much knows its target audience — its app is only available in Chinese.

It is still in its relatively early stages, but has already expanded to 14 cities in the UK.

Liu graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2016 with a degree in computer science and management. He confirmed to Business Insider that he has quietly raised early funding from two well-known European backers— Felix Capital and 83North. 

Headcount: 250
Previous rank: New entry



98. Joanna Shields, using AI to improve healthcare

US-born tech executive Joanna Shields is the founder and CEO of BenevolentAI, a healthtech startup that aims to use AI to discover, test and ultimately develop new medicines.

Shields has had a challenging year. BenevolentAI saw its valuation slashed to $1 billion after raising $90 million from Temasek in September, down from $2 billion last year.

Still, Shields remains one of the most influential women in UK tech.

She was Facebook's boss in Europe, the Middle East and Africa from 2010 to 2013, and has served as ex-PM Theresa May's advisor on internet safety and security. She was also the UK government's advisor on the digital economy between 2013 and 2018.

The "Future Fifty" initiative she helped set up – which supports the UK's brightest late-stage tech startups annually – also continues to thrive. Its recent alumni include Deliveroo, which raised $575 million in an Amazon-led funding round in May, as well as TransferWise, SkyScanner and Zoopla.

Total amount raised: $202 million
Headcount: 51-100
Previous rank: 16
Twitter: @joannashields



97. The undergraduate students who beat Apple to building a web player for Apple Music

If your product's good enough, big tech can't help but pay attention — even if you're still in college.

James Jarvis, Raphaël Vigée, Filip Grębowski, and Brychan Bennett-Odlum are computer science students at the University of Kent. In their free time, they managed to catch the attention of Apple after developing an unofficial web player for Apple Music.

The students developed the service, Musish, after realising that Apple did not offer a browser interface for its music streaming platform like Spotify does. Musish uses a subscriber's existing music library to let them listen across any device that has a web browser, including non-Apple devices.

In May 2019, the quartet were invited to meet with Apple executives at the tech giant's Cupertino headquarters, with Jarvis calling the meeting "extremely positive." Apple separately launched its own web interface for Apple Music in September.

Previous rank: New entry



96. David Austin, the man in charge of enforcing Britain’s porn block... whenever that is

As the CEO of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), a UK regulator, David Austin is in charge of policing the UK's upcoming age-verification laws on pornography — whenever they are ultimately implemented.

The BBFC will force adult websites to carry out age-checks on their visitors, and non-compliant sites will be blocked in the UK. However, the ban has been repeatedly pushed back. It was originally slated for April 2018, then delayed to July 15, before being pushed back again. Then-Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said it would be another six months or so, due to a bureaucratic error, as the government had failed to alert the EU.

Austin previously worked for the UK diplomatic service, with postings including Central Africa and South Asia.

Previous rank: New entry



95. Luciana Lixandru, Accel's star young investor

London-based investor Luciana Lixandru is a partner at investment firm Accel.

Her activity over the last 12 months includes a November 2018 investment in Miro, a firm that makes smart whiteboards to improve internal collaboration within businesses. The investment formed part of of Miro's $25 million Series A fundraise.

Her earlier bets have also flourished of late. She was an early user of and investor in Deliveroo, before most of the UK had heard of the food delivery app. This year the firm won backing from Amazon (and a regulatory probe as an unfortunate side helping.)

Accel and Lixandru also participated in a new round in software automation firm UiPath, founded in her home country of Romania and now worth a cool $7 billion.

Previous rank: 25
Twitter: @LucianaLix

 



94. Adam Koszary, the social media whizz who got headhunted by Elon Musk

In a bizarre modern fairy-tale, a social media manager for an obscure English museum was headhunted by Elon Musk this year after concocting a viral tweet about a sheep.

Adam Koszary used to head up social media at the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading, and under his watch the institution's Twitter feed became known for a string of surreal and viral tweets about its exhibits.

In April 2019, it fired off a particularly potent tweet: A 1926 photo of an exceedingly large ram it dubbed an "absolute unit" — a reference to the popular meme. The tweet caught the attention of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who ended up in a peculiar back-and-forth with the museum's account.

A little more than a month later, social mastermind Koszary announced he'd taken a job as a social media manager at Tesla.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @AdamKoszary



93. Saurav Chopra is helping companies keep their employees loyal

Saurav Chopra is the CEO and cofounder of Perkbox, a service which enables businesses to give their employees access to a number of benefits and rewards with the aim of improving staff well-being and retention rates.

Prior to founding his company, Chopra worked for Deloitte and Yahoo, but has said he always has had an entrepreneurial bent as many of his family ran their own businesses.

Since launching in 2015, the company has raised nearly $30 million in funding — most recently a £13.5 million ($16.5 million) pot in April 2019 — hired more than 250 people, and opened offices in nine cities around the world. Its mission now is to reach 100 million employees by 2025.

Total amount raised: $29.7 million
Headcount: 250+
Previous rank: New entry



92. Marta Krupinska, the entrepreneur now helping Google champion new startups

Marta Krupinska is a former tech entrepreneur now lending her assistance to one of the world's biggest tech giants.

Previously cofounder of money-transfer startup Azimo, she was appointed head of Google for Startups UK in February 2019.

The Jagiellonian University graduate is based at Google's startup campus in Shoreditch in East London and runs its residency programmes for growth firms. She has come into the role with a focus on diversity, and just oversaw Google Campus' first female-only founder intake.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @mmeentrepreneur



91. Ed Vaizey, the politico keeping a beady eye on tech

Ed Vaizey is the former culture secretary and maintains an affable presence on the UK's tech scene.

He joined the advisory board of Newsguard in June this year, a startup that wants to help people determine whether they're reading reliable information online.

The independent MP also maintains a well-read weekly email newsletter highlighting the latest in culture, media, and tech across the UK. 

Previous rank: 50 on Business Insider's 2016 list
Twitter: @edvaizey



90. Parmy Olson, tech journalism’s deep diver

As tech's tentacles stretch ever-further across the globe, the need for powerful journalism to help hold it to account has never been greater.

Doing exactly this is Parmy Olson, a consistently excellent veteran reporter who in April 2019 joined The Wall Street Journal in London, having previously worked for Forbes. Her focus includes cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, privacy, health tech, and surveillance.

In November 2018, while still at Forbes, she landed a blockbuster interview with WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton about his disillusionment with and departure from Facebook.

She is also well-known for her coverage of "hacktivism," particularly the decentralized collective Anonymous, writing a book on the subject in 2012.

Twitter: @parmy
Previous rank:
New entry



89. Belle Delphine, a surrealist troll that became too much for Instagram

19-year-old Belle Delphine caused a social media riot this summer with the announcement that she was selling $30 bottles of her bath water.

The South African-born, UK-living Instagram star rocketed to fame this year with her provocative, surreal and self-aware stunts, all perfectly calibrated to wind up horny teenage gamers — from caressing a dead octopus to launching a troll-y PornHub page.

She managed to build an audience of 4.5 million people on Instagram, but the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app ultimately decided she had crossed a line and banned her in July. After two months of social media silence, Delphine claimed in October that she had been arrested for spraypainting someone's car after they stole her hamster; the truth of this remains unclear.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @bunnydelphine



88. Nigel Shadbolt, in charge of setting up a new AI ethics institute

An Oxford professor and cofounder of the Open Data Institute (along with internet wizard Tim Berners-Lee), Nigel Shadbolt is about to take on another assignment.

This year it was announced in June that Shadbolt will be heading up a new institute specialising in the ethics of AI, which will be housed within a new £150 million ($185 million) humanities centre funded by famous US financier Stephen Schwarzman. (It's not clear what proportion of that £150 million will go towards the new AI ethics institute.)

The Oxford prof was knighted in 2013, and is also fond of sailing and gardening

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @Nigel_Shadbolt



87. Francis Gonzalez, the headteacher building gaming into the curriculum

Francis Gonzalez is the headteacher of Richard Cloudesley School in North London, a school for pupils with special needs. The school made the unusual decision this year of bringing in gaming classes, letting kids play video games like Minecraft.

The aim of the gaming lessons? Improving the children's confidence and communication skills.

"It's about learning the social skills, the resilience, you know winning and losing, all of those things that have actually have a huge impact on the rest of your life," Gonzalez told the BBC in August 2019. The school uses Microsoft's adaptive controller for disabled gamers to make the classes as widely accessible as possible to its students.

Previous rank: New entry



86. Louise Rix, a UK VC investor that’s helping to shed light on diversity in the industry

In 2018, Forward Partners became the first UK venture capital firm to reveal its portfolio diversity and shed some light on where it puts its millions.

Louise Rix, a medical doctor-turned-investor, conducted the research, looking through six weeks' worth of startup applications to determine how successful different types of applicants were at winning investment.

The results showed that while Forward Partners is beating the average, with 10 companies out of its 52 investments having at least one female founder, women founders are still in the minority.

Total amount raised: $84.4 million
Headcount: 20
Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @LouiseCRix



85. Elizabeth Denham, the data cop holding Facebook’s feet to the flames

Britain's top data cop, the Information Commissioner's Office, clobbered Facebook with a record £500,000 fine for the Cambridge Analytica scandal in late October last year.

Days later, the UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said Facebook's advertising business model rubs against EU privacy laws and the company is part of an ecosystem that has shown a "very disturbing disregard" for the data of British citizens.

More recently, she has raised concerns about Mark Zuckerberg's cryptocurrency project Libra. In short: Over the past 12 months, Denham has not made herself popular at Menlo Park.

Previous rank: 24



84. Bailey Kursar, putting ethics at the heart of money management

After cutting her teeth in marketing roles at the likes of Monzo, Zopa and Funding Options, entrepreneur Bailey Kursar decided to go it alone by founding Toucan, an ethically-minded money management app.

Established in January of this year, Toucan offers a range of tools for people who have mental health problems and may be financially vulnerable as a result. In this way, the app doubles as a way for banks to help their most vulnerable customers.

Once users have securely connected Toucan to their personal bank account, the app offers alerts based on their personal spending habits, help complying with complex financial regulation, and a tool that lets them nominate a trusted friend or carer for support.

Previous rank: New entry
Headcount: 1-10

 



83. Oishi Deb, the software engineer pursuing machine learning on the side

Oishi Deb is a young British software engineer with Rolls-Royce, working in its control system department.

She graduated in 2017 with a degree in software engineering from the University of Leicester, saying that she had chosen the course despite a dearth of other women studying the same subject. Deb graduated straight into a job at Rolls-Royce. She has acted as an ambassador for STEM subjects to pupils and students, speaking at schools in her current role and having chaired a computer science group for women while at university.

Deb has received a number of awards and scholarships and, in December, won a grant from Sky to develop a machine-learning project alongside her day job despite never having previously studied the technology.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @DebOishi



82. Melinda Roylett, Uber’s new UK chief who’ll have to fight for its licence

Melinda Roylett is Uber's latest UK boss and its third in seven years, joining the firm from Square. Her predecessor at Uber, Tom Elvidge, left for WeWork.

The UK, and specifically London, is Uber's biggest market in Europe and has posed multiple regulatory challenges. The city's transport regulator, Transport for London, revoked Uber's operating licence in 2017 and begrudgingly handed it back after a court battle.

In September, TfL only granted Uber a two-month licence, meaning the ride-hailing firm is under extreme pressure to show good behaviour around passenger safety, driver checks, and generally towing the line.

Roylett will be going into the job with her eyes open — few could miss the relentless negative headlines that have dogged Uber almost since its inception, or the regulatory battles it faces around the world. As a complete outsider, she has the chance to show UK regulators that the firm has finally turned over a new leaf.

Headcount: 200 (in the UK)
Previous rank: New entry



81. Andrea Coscelli, the regulator holding Jeff Bezos to account

Andrea Coscelli is one of a swathe of British government figures who have worked to take Big Tech to task over the last year.

Coscelli is chief executive of the Competition and Markets Authority, the UK's competition regulator. The CMA may claim its first big scalp, having put the brakes on Amazon's investment into UK food delivery startup Deliveroo.

Amazon had led Deliveroo's mammoth $575 million Series G fundraise in May 2019, with Deliveroo founder Will Shu describing the tech behemoth as "an inspiration" and "customer-obsessed." But the CMA suspects the two companies might integrate, and has launched a probe.

Coscelli has been with the CMA for six years, and previously worked at Ofcom.

Previous rank: New entry



80. The 2 Uber drivers who threatened Uber’s IPO

James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam are the British Uber drivers-turned-campaigners who took the ride-hailing firm to court back in 2016 over driver rights and won.

In a sensational UK high court ruling that has continued to reverberate even as Uber became a multibillion-dollar public company, Farrar and Aslam upended Uber's arguments that it didn't have to give drivers basic employment rights such as holiday pay. More generally, Farrar and Aslam's case raised public awareness of how precarious it is to work for the new breed of "gig-economy" firms.

Their impact is still being felt today: In the paperwork Uber filed in April 2019 ahead of its IPO, the Californian ride-hailing giant specifically cited this type of ruling as a risk to its business and called out Farrar and Aslam directly.

Previous rank: 26, in Business Insider's 2016 list
Twitter: @jamesfarrar, @Yaseenaslam381



79. Damian Collins, Facebook’s most-feared lawmaker

Damian Collins is arguably the lawmaker Facebook fears more than any other.

It has been over 18 months since the Cambridge Analytica data scandal humbled Facebook, but the 45-year-old British Conservative MP — and the parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee he chairs — hasn't tired of doggedly pursuing the fallout from the revelations.

In December 2018, Collins published a cache of secret Facebook documents, casting light on the firm's handling of user data and its ruthless approach to rivals. Three months later, he accused Facebook of behaving like "digital gangsters" as part of a devastating report on the Cambridge Analytica scandal. All the while, he's continued peppering the company with questions about the evidence it has given his committee.

Ultimately, Collins' grasp of Facebook's frailties is second to none, so it's little wonder Mark Zuckerberg has consistently dodged his requests to give evidence.

Previous rank: 80
Twitter: @DamianCollins



78. Carolyn McCall and Tony Hall, taking on Netflix with Britbox

The BBC and ITV have a long and tempestuous history of clashes in their battle for TV viewers — but the rise of Netflix has swept the old rivalries aside. 

Threatened by the $130 billion video-streaming gorilla, the two venerable British broadcasters are embracing to launch their own video service, Britbox. 

Under the joint stewardship of BBC Director General Tony Hall and ITV CEO Carloyn McCall, Britbox will debut in the UK later this year, charging viewers £5.99 to stream new shows and a back catalogue of classic television from the organisations' archives.

It's an unusual commercial partnership for two old foes — and one they first tried to get off the ground more than a decade ago. Back in 2007, when Netflix had just started streaming, they tried to launch online TV venture Project Kangaroo, but it was blocked by regulators at the time.

12 years later, Hall and McCall will be hoping that they aren't too late to the party.

Previous rank: New entry



77. Unicorn spotters Hussein Kanji and Rob Kniaz

Hussein Kanji and Rob Kniaz are the affable, plugged-in investors behind Hoxton Ventures, the early-stage European investment fund headquartered in London.

Kanji was formerly an investor at Accel, while Kniaz previously worked at Fidelity Ventures and Google before that.

The pair took early bets on a number of firms that would go on to become extremely buzzy, with investments including food-delivery startup Deliveroo, cybersecurity firm Darktrace, and healthtech biz Babylon Health.

All three have raised serious money or seen huge growth in the last 12 months — a strong track record for a first fund. According to an SEC filing spotted in early February, the pair are planning to raise $100 million for a second fund.

Previous rank: 63 on Business Insider's 2017 list
Twitter:
@hkanji, @RobK



76. Nick Bostrom, the philosopher backed by Bill Gates and Elon Musk

Nick Bostrom is a professor of philosophy at Oxford University and artificial intelligence expert who studies AI's potential impact on humanity – for better, and for worse. His work, especially on the idea that AI could become perilously indifferent to humans without turning malevolent, has received several big-name endorsements from the tech world.

Bill Gates has cited Bostrom's book, Superintelligence, as one of two books everyone should read if they want to better understand AI, while Elon Musk urged his Twitter followers to read the same book back in 2014.

In 2019, Swedish-born Bostrom is continuing to lead academia when it comes to assessing humanity's future in an AI-driven world. He serves as director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford, a multidisciplinary research group he founded that "brings careful thinking to bear on big-picture questions about humanity and its prospects."

The Institute's recent publications include a report on the US public's attitude towards AI, and a report on the threats posed by biotechnology based on a meeting of scientists, engineers and policy leaders from around the globe. It also launched a postgraduate scholarship in February 2019 for students "whose work seeks to improve the long-term prospects of humanity."

Previous rank: New entry



75. Caroline Plumb, a fintech expert lending a hand to the government on the side

Caroline Plumb is the multi-talented founder and current CEO of Fluidly, a fintech startup that uses AI and financial modelling to forecast companies' cash flows. Set up in 2016, it raised $6.2 million in a Series A funding round in November 2018. She is also founder of a tech-focused management consultant, Decidedly (formerly known as Freshminds).

Since 2010, she has also served as the Prime Minister's business ambassador for professional services, representing the UK's professional services industries in countries such as France, Brunei and Singapore.

Plumb's work has been recognised by numerous institutions. In the same year she founded Fluidly, Plumb was awarded an OBE for services to business and charity.

Total amount raised: $15.5 million
Headcount: 11-50
Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @cplumb



74. Josh Bell, who took an early bet on iZettle

Josh Bell is a general partner at early-stage investor Dawn Capital, which focuses on European enterprise startups. Bell won big last year from betting early on iZettle, which was acquired by PayPal for $2.2 billion in September 2018.

Dawn Capital, which has been around since 2007, raised a new $125 million fund in June 2019 so that the firm can double down on a handful of its existing bets. Promising startups in its stable include fintech firm Soldo and data intelligence company Collibra.

Bell, a former McKinsey employee, is based in London.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter:
@joshbell



73. Dr. Jess Wade, the scientist rectifying Wikipedia’s blind spot

Wikipedia is the world's biggest encyclopedia, and it has one major flaw — the bulk of its volunteer editors are male.

This is widely acknowledged to be the reason why there are fewer notable women highlighted on Wikipedia. As The Guardian flagged in 2014, Wikipedia's page on porn actresses was better edited than its page on women writers.

Dr. Jess Wade has been on a one-woman mission to change this, at least in scientific fields. She has decided to take on the lack of prominent female scientists featured on Wikipedia, creating hundreds of new entries for women who deserve greater fame. Last year, she added 280 new entries.

Professionally, she's a physicist at Imperial College London studying organic light emitting diodes. But outside of her research, she has authored at least 400 pages on Wikipedia and, in late 2018, raised more than £20,000 to get a copy of "Inferior," a book about how women are ignored by science, into every UK state school.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @jesswade



72. Ola Sendecka, Django Girls founder and Monzo engineer

Ola Sendecka is a triple threat: Engineer, educational YouTuber, and advocate for getting girls into coding.

Sendecka spun a one-off coding workshop for women into an international charity, Django Girls, in 2014. Five years later and Django Girls runs a network of more than 1,900 volunteers in 90 countries. She later set up her own YouTube channel, Coding is for Girls.

On top of all this, Sendecka took up an engineering job at red-hot (or hot coral) banking app Monzo in the first half of 2019.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @asendecka



71. Carole Cadwalladr, the Cambridge Analytica-breaking journalist keeping the pressure up

The Cambridge Analytica scandal may have been the scoop of 2018, but the fallout has very much continued into this year.

Guardian and Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr wasn't the first journalist to highlight what Cambridge Analytica was, but she was the first to put a human face on the complex story via her interview with employee-turned-whistleblower Chris Wylie.

She can also be credited for significantly raising public awareness of Facebook's power to shape public opinion, and the legacy of her reporting has encouraged media and lawmaker scrutiny of the firm this year.

She has since remained in the spotlight, both through her prolific Twitter account putting pressure on Arron Banks and others connected to the issue, and through a popular Netflix documentary on the saga, "The Great Hack."

Previous rank: 19
Twitter: @carolecadwalla



70. The sisters building 'dark' kitchens for Uber Eats and Deliveroo

Eccie and Gini Newton are a pair of foodie entrepreneurs whose business is booming thanks to the explosion in new takeaway concepts.

The Newtons run Karma Kitchen, making serviced commercial kitchens available to anyone from bakers running a daily market stall to delivery-only brands which solely serve takeaway food for Deliveroo and Uber Eats.

They've seen a big increase in customers thanks to these Deliveroo and Uber Eats-enabled "virtual restaurants." Chances are, if you've been ordering takeaway from a new restaurant brand in London through an app this year, it might have been made in a Karma Kitchen space.

Headcount: 8
Previous rank:
New entry



69. Buzzy Balderton's James Wise and Laura Connell

Laura Connell is a relative newcomer to Balderton, a principal at the London-based venture capital firm since the summer of 2018. Along with partner Daniel Waterhouse, Connell leads Balderton's interesting new "secondary" fund, which lets the VC firm buy into hot, highly valued tech firms by buying out early shareholders.

Prior to Balderton, her varied career involved a five-year stint at Goldman Sachs and conducting neuroscience research at Imperial College in London.

James Wise, meanwhile, is a partner at Balderton and led the firm's original investment into fashion community Depop, which this year raised $62 million from US firm General Atlantic. He's also backed health startup Kaia Health and 3D-printing firm 3D Hubs.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter:
@Jp_wise, @LauraConnell18



68. Niantic’s new creative play specialist, Alex Fleetwood

Alex Fleetwood is the British entrepreneur behind Sensible Object, a startup rethinking board games in the digital age.

In June 2019, the company sold to Niantic, the American games firm that built the monster mobile hit "Pokémon Go." Fleetwood now leads a London studio for Niantic that could work on cool concepts to follow up on its success.

The ex-Channel 4 employee and University of York alumnus is also long-established on the creative play scene, having previously been involved with the real-world game consultancy Hide&Seek.

Headcount: 15
Previous rank
: New entry

Twitter: @ammonite



67. Joy Foster, the woman helping women upskill women

Joy Foster is the founder and managing director of TechPixies, an online learning startup that teaches digital skills to help women return to work or start a business.

Offering courses in social media, digital marketing, and more, Foster's firm has helped hundreds of women upskill since its inception in 2015. It received £150,000 in female-led funding in March 2019 to fully digitize its social media course, and was named "Startup of the Year" at the 2018 Women in Business awards.

Originally hailing from Colorado, Foster has been widely recognised for her entrepreneurship and advocacy. She now lives in Oxford — where TechPixies is based — speaks three languages, and is currently training for an Ironman race.

Headcount: 5
Twitter:
@techpixiejoy
Previous rank: New entry



66. Ian Levy, Britain's cybersecurity chief keeping a keen eye on Huawei

Ian Levy is a director at the National Cyber Security Centre, a public-facing arm of the British intelligence service GCHQ.

This year, he's had his hands full: Britain, like other US-allied countries, has been caught in the crossfire between the Trump administration and Chinese tech giant Huawei.

The US has been furiously pressuring allies not to use Huawei's 5G telecoms kit, citing national security concerns, while the the company denies this and claims the allegation is a political ploy designed to shift the balance in the US-China trade war. 

Tasked with sifting through the spin and mentions of "backdoors" is Levy. He has adopted a slightly different stance on the Chinese tech giant, shifting focus away from state interference and towards incompetence. He told BBC Panorama that the firm's security was "shoddy" and said it was "engineering like it's back in the year 2000."

Previous rank: New entry



65. Timo Boldt, a meal kit supremo with bags of cash

Timo Boldt is the German-born, UK-based cofounder and CEO of Gousto, a meal kit retailer he set up with his friend James Carter in 2012. In 2019 it banked £48 million across two rapid-fire funding rounds, most recently a £30m Series F in July.

In 2013, Boldt's idea for Gousto featured on Dragon's Den, a popular UK television show where entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to high-profile investors, receiving two offers of investment from the "dragons."

Before diving into entrepreneurship in 2012, Boldt worked for BMW and then Rothschild. 

Total funding amount: $137.7 million
Headcount: 251-500
Previous rank: 44



64. The social media star who came out via YouTube

British YouTuber Daniel Howell came out in a 45-minute video posted on his channel during Pride Month in June. "Spoiler alert: I'm not straight," he said, adding: "We live a heteronormative world...What it means is that people are presumed to be straight. If you're not, then at some point you have to 'come out.'"

He continued: "Here I am, aged 27, and my sexual preference is seemingly still a vague, debatable, confusing, impenetrable, mystery."

The Berkshire-born influencer's honesty about his sexuality, and his admission that it had triggered some mental health issues in the past, felt significant even in the hyper-honest universe of YouTube. It showed how social media could be a force for inspiration and hope among younger watchers. And it was a positive moment in a year when YouTube has come under fire by the LGBTQ community for, among other things, declining to remove videos of a prominent right-wing personality containing homophobic slurs.

Howell's video hit the top trending spot on YouTube and has accumulated nearly 10 million views since.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @danielhowell



63. Robot chef builder Barney Wragg

Barney Wragg is cofounder and CEO of Karakuri, a startup that uses space-age robot chefs to help restaurants, caterers, and food retailers prepare meals more quickly and precisely.

Karakuri's two models of robot chef, Marley and DK-One, can determine exactly how much of each ingredient a meal contains, and even how many calories it contains — opening the door to consumers precisely customizing their food, from the number of calories in their burger to the amount of chocolate in their brownie.

One of Wragg's cofounders is Brent Hoberman, the founder of Lastminute.com, who also backed Karakuri as part of a $9 million seed funding round in May 2019. The fundraise was led by Ocado, a major UK online food retailer that uses Karakuri's tech.

Wragg previously worked as CEO of The Really Useful Group, Andrew Lloyd Webber's theatre and media company.

Headcount: 10
Total amount raised: $8.7 million
Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @barney_wragg



62. Diversity VC, which is changing the face of venture capital

Diversity VC does what it says on the tin: It aims to make venture capital more diverse. As well as helping VC firms hire and build more varied teams, the nonprofit — which has five cofounders, including UK-based Check Warner, Lillian Li and Travis Winstanley — conducts original research into the state of the VC industry.

This year, Warner, Li, Winstanley, and their colleagues launched a five-week paid internship for budding venture capitalists, covering VC essentials such as the evaluation of pitches, raising funds, and sourcing founders.

A Diversity VC study published in July 2019 found that just 30% of VC personnel are female. It also found that 63% of UK VC firms have no women at all in senior roles.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @twinstanley, @checkwarner, @lillianmli



61. Daniel Hegarty, UK tech’s unconventional mortgage-broker

Daniel Hegarty, it's fair to say, is not your typical mortgage-broker. A heavily tattooed former guitarist who wrote and performed with the likes of Pink, the Sugababes and Robbie Williams, the 37-year-old is now founder of Habito, a mortgage broker website and app.

Hegarty's firm offers a suite of free, online mortgage broking services. These range from advice to first-time buyers, to services for buy-to-let landlords and people looking to remortgage. 

In July of this year, Habito branched out from brokerage into the mortgage market itself, launching a buy-to-let mortgage service aimed at individual landlords. It also raised a further £5 million in a venture round in August 2019, taking its total funds raised to £29 million.

Habito has also courted some controversy with an edgy ad campaign that prompted dozens of complaints to the UK's advertising regulator.

Headcount: 160
Total amount raised: $36.2 million
Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @dh_habito



60. Nicola Mendelsohn, tasked with holding down the fort for Facebook in Britain

Nicola Mendelsohn is the head honcho for Facebook's operations in the UK, helping steer the social network through turbulent times, including the ongoing fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

In June 2019, Facebook announced it would open a third office in London — this one making room for 500 employees, with 20% focused on AI. Mendelsohn, 47, also got some positive personal news at the end of 2018, with her blood cancer going into remission.

Previous rank: 70
Twitter handle: @nicolamen



59. Ross Bailey, the 27-year-old Brit who’s trying to spruce up the high street

Ross Bailey is the CEO of Appear Here, a UK startup that helps businesses find temporary pop-up spaces to rent in London, Paris, and New York. It has been dubbed the "Airbnb of retail."

Since Bailey launched the company in 2013, he has enabled more than 200,000 brands to find short-term leases and aided aspiring entrepreneurs, including a banker who took a two-week vacation to set up a sandwich shop, to trial new ideas. "Anyone can have an idea and it doesn't need to be forever," he said in a conversation with Business Insider in May 2019.

The company has raised $21.4 million in funding over the years and counts designer Diane von Furstenberg, Simon Property Group CEO David Simon, and Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet among its investors.

Total amount raised: $21.4 million
Headcount: 90
Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @RossABailey



58. Enterprise specialists Scott Sage and Krishna Visvanathan

Scott Sage and Krishna Visvanathan are the pair behind Crane Venture Partners, which raised its first $90 million seed fund in June 2019 to back European enterprise startups.

To date, they have backed the AI-powered identity-checking startup Onfido and buzzy security firm Tessian. The duo originally met while working at DFJ.

Visvanathan, a veteran investor, believes Europe is overdue for its next enterprise titan, having already produced semiconductor firm ARM and SAP. "We believe we will start to see, in the next five to 10 years, emerge from Europe, a giant global category leader in the enterprise space," he told Business Insider. "Hopefully, we'll back one or two of those."

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @scott_sage, @krishnav



57. Amazon's UK boss Doug Gurr, raising wages and regulator eyebrows

Douglas Gurr is the man Jeff Bezos tasked with overseeing a workforce of nearly 30,000 people in the UK, the majority of which work in warehouses, shipping goods to tens of millions of customers across Britain and Europe.

In May 2019, Gurr was appointed a director at Deliveroo as part of Amazon's investment in the buzzy British food-delivery company. But whether he will ultimately take his place on the board remains to be seen, as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) examines the deal amid antitrust concerns.

Following pressure from US Senator and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, workers in the UK (and the US) also got a pay rise under Gurr late last year: £10.50 an hour for those in London and £9.50 across the rest of the country.

Previous rank: 94



56. Cherry Freeman, the LoveCrafts cofounder now sourcing deals at Hiro Capital

Cherry Freeman is the cofounder of LoveCrafts, a community for knitting and craft enthusiasts.

The site sells knitting patterns and yarn, and as it has grown it has acquired a number of knitting businesses, including Debbie Bliss and SewandSo.

Meanwhile, Freeman has stepped back from LoveCrafts and is now eyeing new ventures, cofounding investment firm Hiro Capital in January 2019 — focusing on finding games, esports opportunities, and digital sports startups to turbo-charge with extra cash.

Previous rank: 14 on Business Insider's 2017 list



55. Vishal Chatrath, CEO of AI company Prowler.io running with the Silicon Valley giants

For a small company, Prowler.io has been punching well above its weight.

The Cambridge-based startup develops AI to help companies make decisions from how to organise their financial portfolios to how to set up their supply chains. And it's having a good year.

In May 2019, Prowler raised $24 million at a $100 million valuation from a group of investors including Chinese giant Tencent, which it said it would use to push into new markets, including education.

Prowler researchers then won the Best Paper award at the International Conference on Machine Learning in June, alongside a paper submitted by Google researchers.

Total amount raised: $50 million
Headcount: 112
Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @vishalchatrath



54. Alastair Bathgate, who helped build a $1 billion software-automation firm before it was cool

Alastair Bathgate is the CEO of Blue Prism, a UK-based software-automation firm.

Founded all the way back in 2001, Blue Prism has historically flown somewhat under the radar, despite going public in 2016 and achieving a valuation of around $1 billion. 

But Bathgate and his team were well ahead of the game. Software automation is a rapidly growing area, and venture capital investors are taking increasing interest in early-stage rival firms. Romanian competitor UiPath recently generated a $7 billion valuation with its newest funding round. As a land grab emerges, this British firm will be one to watch.

In June 2019, Blue Prism bought rival Thoughtonomy for a reported $100 million.

Total amount raised: $60.7 million
Headcount:
703 (globally)
Previous rank:
 New entry
Twitter: @tiptoptaps



53. Niklas Zennström, the billionaire overseeing one of the biggest investment funds in European tech

European tech veteran Nikolas Zennström co-founded Skype and also set up Atomico, one of Europe's biggest venture capital firms.

Atomico has some high ambitions, and raised a monster $765 million fund in 2017. Zennström and his team appear to now be directing that cash into a wide range of investments, with some focus on sustainable businesses, including childcare startup Koru Kids and flying taxi startup Lilium.

The firm is currently in the midst of change after Atomico's cofounder, Mattias Ljungman, announced his departure in July 2019 to set up his own early-stage fund.

Previous rank: 8 on Business Insider's 2017 list
Twitter: @nzennstrom



52. Sophie Hill has created a luxury online boutique that exists entirely on messaging apps

Sophie Hill launched Threads Styling in 2009 after working as a buyer for Arcadia Group. It was initially a personal shopping service, where customers could connect with shoppers by message. It has since evolved to become a social media and chat-based shopping platform.

In a recent interview with The Times, Hill explained that she initially set up the business as a way to help wealthy people travelling through London to shop more easily; it has since spread to New York and Hong Kong.

The idea is that customers can flick through stylized pictures of designer products on Instagram or Snapchat and then swipe to connect with a personal shopper who can either arrange for the sale and delivery of the item or help them to find something else.

Last year, Threads raised $20 million to aid its global expansion. The company opened offices in New York and Hong Kong in 2018.

Total amount raised: $20 million
Headcount: 140
Previous rank: New entry



51. Harry Franks, the man insuring the gig economy

Zego cofounder Harry Franks is the insurance entrepreneur who hates talking about insurance.

Zego's goal is to adapt to the new world of flexible working, gig economy jobs, and the sharing economy with equally flexible insurance. The company, for example, offers scooter insurance designed for drivers who switch between apps like Uber Eats and Deliveroo.

Franks himself concocted the idea after working at Deliveroo and finding traditional insurers struggled with the concept of the gig economy. The personable Franks prefers to talk about changing consumer needs and habits rather than the back-end technicalities of coming up with flexible insurance policies.

Zego raised a $42 million Series B to help its expansion plans in June this year.

Total amount raised: $51.7 million
Previous Rank:
New entry
Twitter: @HarryFranksZego



50. Jay Hunt, spending Apple’s billions on British TV shows

2019 was the year that Apple finally got into TV.

At a glitzy announcement event in March, CEO Tim Cook welcomed mega-stars including Jennifer Aniston and Oprah Winfrey to the stage as he unveiled a raft of original content for Apple's newly christened subscription video-streaming service, Apple TV Plus.

In the audience was Jay Hunt, the former director or programmes at Channel 4 who is responsible for spearheading Apple TV Plus projects in the UK. Much of her work remains under wraps ahead of the service's planned November launch, but she has commissioned the BBC to make a series about the last days of the dinosaurs, directed by Jon Favreau.

Hunt made a rare public appearance in June 2019, when she told a House of Lords committee that Apple's investment in the UK will be "meaningful."

Previous rank: 22



49. Patrick Pichette, the former Google CFO spotting investment opportunities in London

Patrick Pichette was the longtime chief financial officer of Google before he quit in 2015 to chill out and travel the world.

Since then he has climbed mountains with his kids, completed several Iron Man contests, and even bumped into former Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt at Everest.

He joined Canada's iNovia Capital in February 2019, setting up its London office. Now he's seeking out cool European startups to fund.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @pichette



48. The lab-grown diamond jewelers, Jessica Warch and Sidney Neuhaus

Jessica Warch and Sidney Neuhaus both come from diamond-trading families in Antwerp and wanted to get into the family business — but disliked the industry's "old-fashioned, old-minded" way of doing things.

Having studied in London and worked at other fast-growing UK startups Appear Here and Threads, the two childhood friends decided to strike out on their own and launch Kimai, an online shopping site for lab-grown diamonds. The pair hustled to get themselves noticed and, after a lot of cold emails, managed to get onto Meghan Markle's radar.

The royal was seen wearing a pair of lab-grown diamonds from Kimai in January this year, and now the pair have big plans to relaunch their site and boost their brand as interest in lab-grown diamonds grows.

Previous rank: New entry



47. Carolina Brochado, SoftBank tech’s freshest voice

Carolina Brochado is a venture capital investor at SoftBank's Vision Fund, and one of the few investors it has recruited not from Deutsche Bank but the European VC community.

She specialises in marketplaces and financial startups among other areas and her appointment is good news for European startups hoping for a look into SoftBank's billions.

Brochado was previously a partner at European venture capital firm Atomico, announcing her departure in December 2018 before jumping ship to SoftBank. While there, she invested in Spanish logistics firm OnTruck and peer-to-peer lending marketplace Fat Llama.

Previous rank: 56
Twitter: @ctbrochado



46. The fintech founders helping people get debt-free

Asesh Sarkar, Dan Cobley and Daniel Shakhani are the cofounders of Salary Finance.

Set up in 2015, Salary Finance partners with employers to offer a range of employee benefits aimed at improving their financial wellbeing. Ultimately, Salary Finance aims to help employees get debt-free and save money.

Its products and services include salary-linked loans and savings accounts, as well as a tool that lets employees access their pay as they earn it, rather than in one block at the end of the month. In August of this year, it completed a $20 million Series B funding round aimed at scaling its platform in the US, taking its total amount raised to over $100 million.

Total amount raised: $111.8 million
Headcount: 101-250
Previous rank:
New entry
Twitter: @dcobley, @danielshakhani



45. Richard Corbett, Bird's UK chief trying to get the UK to embrace dockless scooters

Dockless scooter companies are having a hard time breaking ground in Britain. The pint-sized vehicles are technically banned from riding both on the roads and on the pavements in Britain due to two separate laws — one of which is from 1835 and was originally designed to keep carriages off the pavement.

Richard Corbett is trying to change this. He's the UK boss for Bird, which along with Lime is one of the biggest dockless scooter startups to have come out of Silicon Valley.

He has been active in lobbying to change the archaic laws preventing scooters from riding free in the land of hope and glory, and in November 2018 the company was the first to actually get commercial scooters out and about in Britain — though they are restricted to the modest confines Olympic Park in London.

Total amount raised: $548 million
Headcount:
7 (in the UK)
Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @RichardCorbett_



44. Caspar Lee, a YouTube vlogger turned entrepreneur

British-South African internet star Caspar Lee made a name for himself vlogging on YouTube, doing interviews and sketches and collaborating with celebrities such a Ed Sheeran, Kevin Hart, and Maise Williams. His main channel, Caspar, now has over 7.3 million subscribers.

In 2017, Lee shifted his energy to new ventures, cofounding social media marketing platform, Influencer.com and becoming its chief innovation officer.

In 2018, he cofounded Margrarvine Management, a talent management agency that supports digitally native stars and which is backed by IMG, and in 2019 he helped to establish an investment club for creators to invest in young companies.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @Caspar_Lee



43. Herman Narula and Rob Whitehead, head honchos at the buzzy Improbable

Gaming technology firm Improbable has spent 2019 nailing down new gaming partnerships and acquisitions to show off its SpatialOS simulation software. It remains one of the few British startups backed by investment giant SoftBank, which poured $500 million into the firm in 2016.

In February 2019, the business hired former DreamWorks and EA executive Lincoln Wallen as its CTO. Cofounder and founding CTO Rob Whitehead took up the role of chief product officer, focused on developing Improbable's core product, SpatialOS.

And in September, the firm bought games studio Midwinter Entertainment, which is developing a game running on SpatialOS called "Scavengers." The idea is to develop innovative features to run in "Scavengers," then package that up and sell them on to third-party developers.

The firm has had a few road-bumps this year too — there was a weird fight with game engine firm Unity over terms that was eventually resolved, as well as the closure of "Worlds Adrift," a much-promoted game which ran on SpatialOS.

Total amount raised: $604.1 million
Headcount: 500
Previous rank: 6
Twitter: @HermanNarula, @RJFWhite

 

 



42. Eileen Burbidge, the Monzo backer with fingers in every pie

Eileen Burbidge is general partner at Passion Capital, with investments in dozens of early-stage startups including neo-bank Monzo.

Apart from the full-time job of investing, Burbidge juggles several other high-profile roles with aplomb.

She serves as the UK Treasury's special envoy for fintech, and is a tech ambassador for the Mayor of London. She sits on the board of Tech City and is regularly spotted doing punditry at 5am on the BBC, suggesting the secret to her success is never getting any shut-eye.

Previous rank: 86
Twitter: @eileentso



41. Azmat Yusuf, the man revolutionizing everyone’s commute

Azmat Yusuf has been quietly building a transportation powerhouse in Citymapper, the free transport app that shows you the best way to travel through a city by public transport. It blazed a trail for consumer transportation apps, and some of its features are now being copied by giants like Uber and Google.

Yusuf studied at the University of Pennsylvania, before going on to an MBA at the prestigious INSEAD in France. He worked at World Bank and Google before starting Citymapper in 2011.

This year, Citymapper launched a novel new product — a subscription travel-card that bundles different transport options together. Citymapper has legions of devoted users, but there has long been the question hanging over it of how it can make money; the Citymapper Pass offers one possible revenue stream for the company.

Total amount raised: $50 million
Headcount: 52
Previous rank: 32



40. Ian Russell sparked a debate on self-harm after his teen daughter Molly took her own life, prompting Instagram to change one of its policies

Ian Russell is the father of Molly Russell, the British teen who tragically took her own life in 2017.

After her death, her family discovered distressing material about depression and suicide on her Instagram account and felt this contributed to her death.

Ian Russell spoke publicly about his concerns in an interview with the BBC in January 2019, prompting a national debate about social media, its popularity with younger users, and the potentially detrimental impacts it could have. Up until this point, Facebook-owned Instagram had escaped close scrutiny around how it impacted users, being seen as the friendlier, more wholesome version of Facebook.

Nationwide sympathy for the Russell family intensified pressure on politicians to regulate social media firms for harmful content, and on the companies themselves to alter their policies.

This year, the government published its proposals for regulating harmful content on the internet. And Instagram boss Adam Mosseri announced that the company was changing its policies and would not longer allow graphic images which contain self-harm to be posted on the platform.

Previous rank: New entry



39. The woman helping Snapchat make money in new markets

Claire Valoti is Snap's international VP overseeing every market outside of the US where Snapchat operates. She's one of the most senior executives at the ephemeral photo-sharing app and an ad-industry veteran, joining in 2015 after working at Facebook.

The London-based exec's role is now increasingly important as the US reaches internet saturation, and firms like Snap increase their focus on emerging markets.

Snap opened its first India office in August 2019, and released a redesigned version of its Android app in part to better appeal to these promising new markets.

Previous rank: 30
Twitter: @clairevaloti



38. British TikTok duo Amardeep "Magic" Singh and Pavan Singh

Married London couple Amardeep (aka "Magic Singh") and Pavan Singh have found unexpected fame on viral video app TikTok, showing off their respective skills as a magician and henna artist.

While YouTube has become notorious for rewarding inflated personalities and inflammatory content, TikTok's most famous stars are best known for their skills, be it dancing, lip-syncing, or, in the London-born duo's case, magic tricks and henna.

"Magic" Singh makes eye-popping videos showing off his capabilities as a card sharp or illusionist, while Pavan makes soothing, inspiring footage of beautiful henna designs.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @magicsingh, @PAVAN_HENNA



37. Hayden Wood and Amit Gudka are shaking up the renewable energy market

Hayden Wood and Amit Gudka met five years ago while working in the energy sector. Wood was a management consultant at Bain working with large energy suppliers and Gudka was a former Barclays energy trader. The duo were frustrated by seeing customers being forced to pay a premium for green energy and set about creating an affordable renewable energy company called Bulb.

They have been shaking up the market ever since. Bulb has signed up over 1.4 million households and remains one of the most competitive energy companies in terms of price. In 2018, it was listed as one of the fastest growing businesses in the UK.

It hasn't been totally rosy for the young founders though — there has been increased scrutiny on its workng culture, after an investigation by the Telegraph in September 2019 reported some tensions at the firm.

Total amount raised: $74 million
Headcount: 450
Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @haydenwd



36. Dr. Sandra Wachter, the academic holding AI to account

Dr. Sandra Wachter was made associate professor at Oxford University in May 2019, where she is a part of the Oxford Internet Institute. She specialises in the intersections between AI, ethics, and law, and has done extensive work on making algorithms easier to scrutinize for bias.

Her work on "counterfactual explanations," i.e. statements which reveal which criteria algorithms are picking up on to make decisions, was picked up by Google in September 2018 and worked into its "What If" analysis tool.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @SandraWachter5



35. Brent Hoberman, accelerating a century of startups

Lastminute.com cofounder Brent Hoberman is one of the best-connected investors in Europe and his startup accelerator, Founders Factory, hit a couple of milestones this year.

The company has now helped build 100 startups, ranging from Karakuri, a robotics firm that makes personalised meals, to Kukua, which is using technology to improve children's education in Africa. 

Founders Factory also secured its eighth corporate partner — FTSE 100 firm Reckitt Benckiser, which will help release millions of pounds for ambitious new startups. Marks & Spencer, L'Oreal, and Guardian Media Group are among those to have previously signed up.

Hoberman has other hats too. He is also a partner at venture capital firm Firstminute Capital, and runs the Founders Forum, a network of some of the biggest names in tech and business that stages events around the world. 

Total amount raised: Undisclosed
Headcount: 70
Previous rank: 23
Twitter: @brenthoberman



34. Dominic Cummings, the AI advocate now influencing British politics

Dominic Cummings is a high-profile political consultant working for Prime Minister Boris Johnson since July.

The 47-year-old is historically best-known for his work as cofounder and director of Vote Leave, the official campaign for Britain to leave the EU in the 2016 Brexit referendum. Cummings has always been open about the importance of digital tech and data science to the outcome — although whether social media wizardry really did persuade half the country to vote to leave the EU is still not clear.

Digital appears to be a key plank of Cummings' current role too. He is believed to have orchestrated hundreds of pro- Boris Johnson Facebook ads since Johnson became Prime Minister. Cummings has also signaled that he is also an advocate of OpenAI, the nonprofit AI research group cofounded by Elon Musk. He was even spotted donning an OpenAI-branded t-shirt when Johnson first became PM.

Previous rank: New entry



33. Victor Riparbelli, the CEO trying to harness deepfakes for good

"Deepfakes" — the use of AI to modify videos to make people appear to do or say things they haven't — have become a frequent and often disconcerting refrain in 2019's news cycle.

But some, like Victor Riparbelli, see commercial potential in the unsettling tech. He's the CEO at London startup Synthesia, which is looking to develop deepfake technology for business uses.

Synthesia had its first outing in late 2018, when it made a BBC news anchor appear to speak Spanish, Mandarin, and Hindi. In April 2019, the company applied its software to the face of David Beckham in a campaign video for Malaria Must Die, in which Beckham's voice changed seamlessly into that of nine different malaria survivors all speaking different languages — with perfect lip synchronization.

The company raised $3.1 million in April this year, and its longterm goal is to break into the movie industry's special-effects scene.

Total amount raised: $4.1 million
Headcount: 16
Twitter: @vriparbelli
Previous rank: New entry



32. The man turning driverless cars into a reality in Europe, Stan Boland

Stan Boland is CEO of FiveAI, an autonomous driving startup based in Cambridge.

The company began a data-gathering exercise for its driverless vehicles in August 2018 but in April 2019 put its cars on London roads for the first time. Now it seems the company is gearing up for the next big step — letting people ride in the cars.

FiveAI's director of public policy Lucy Yu told Business Insider in June that the company was gearing up to start public demos in the "next few months."

FiveAI's competition is stiff, as it is a small startup looking to break ground before Silicon Valley powerhouses like Google, Uber, and Apple.

Previous rank: 9
Total amount raised: $37 million
Headcount: 150
Twitter: @stanboland



31. Tim Bradshaw, the FT journalist who broke the news of Jony Ive’s departure from Apple

Financial Times journalist Tim Bradshaw is the envy of his peers after breaking one of the biggest stories in technology this year — that Apple's longtime design chief Jony Ive would be leaving the company.

Bradshaw has been covering technology for more than a decade, moving to San Francisco in 2012 to cover the major players up close. He then returned to London in late 2018 as the newspaper's global tech correspondent.

Whatever magic Bradshaw worked with contacts in San Francisco evidently paid off. Ive gave Bradshaw an exclusive interview that lasted nearly an hour, explaining his reasons for stepping down and his future plans. It was a landmark moment in Apple's history, and Apple-watchers and obsessives will be consulting that Ive interview for years to come.

Despite the success, Bradshaw has not apparently been infected by Silicon Valley utopianism except perhaps in one respect: He's swapped his Brompton folding bicycle for an (illicit) electric scooter.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @Tim



30. Nicky Morgan, the politician who will (try to) regulate the internet

Away from the Brexit storm ripping through British politics, in July 2019 Conservative MP Nicky Morgan stepped into one of the most quietly important jobs in Cabinet: Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Why? The UK's Conservative government has set about regulating the internet with a suite of new laws that promise to be among the most comprehensive in the world. This includes sweeping powers to fine social media firms billions if they fail to deal with toxic content, like hate speech.

Alongside this initiative, Morgan will have a part to play in wildly ambitious (and much-delayed) plans to age-block porn in the UK, and the Treasury's ambitions to introduce big new taxes on the revenues of tech firms.

Culture secretaries don't tend to stick around for long, but Morgan has a chance to shape the internet for years to come.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter
: @NickyMorgan01



29. Sonali De Rycker, one of London's top investors

Sonali De Rycker is a London-based venture capitalist at Accel Partners, where she's worked since 2008. De Rycker also sits on the boards of several tech firms, including Monzo, whose founder Tom Blomfield also features on our list.

Since joining Accel, the Mumbai-born VC has tended to focus her investments on fintech companies, enterprise software firms and the consumer internet space. She's been an early backer of several successful European startups, including Spotify and online ticket marketplace Seatwave.

In October 2018, De Rycker led an £85 million ($104 million) Series E fundraise for Monzo. Despite posting net losses of £47.2 million ($58 million) for the year ending February 2019, Monzo's valuation has since grown to £2 billion ($2.6 billion) after its Series F fundraise in June.

Previous rank: 80 in Business Insider's 2017 list
Twitter: @sonalidr



28. Charlie Brooker, gamifying TV through "Bandersnatch"

Charlie Brooker made the list last year for his sparkling, zeitgeist-capturing Netflix drama "Black Mirror." A year on, the British writer and producer is back again — this time for using the dystopian show as a vehicle for a TV experience quite unlike anything before it.

Inspired by the Choose Your Own Adventure books, Brooker created "Bandersnatch," the darkly comic tale of a video game developer, which viewers control by answering a series of questions that can take the story in wildly different, dark directions.

"Bandersnatch" was released by Netflix with little warning in late December 2018 and immediately went viral as transfixed viewers watched (perhaps "played" is more accurate) the show over the holidays. Die-hard audiences vied to complete the show and experience all of its various conclusions — hinting at a radical future of gamified televsion.

Netflix can't get enough of Brooker and he is now in talks with the streaming service over an exclusive deal, according to industry trade magazine Broadcast.

Previous rank: 49
Twitter
: @charltonbrooker



27. Roland Lamb, who is reinventing musical instruments

The unconventional nature of ROLI's products reflect the unconventional background of its founder and CEO. When he was just 18, Roland Lamb emigrated to Japan to live in a Zen Monastery, before travelling the world for several years as a jazz musician and visual artist.

The music tech firm's most well-known instrument is the "Seaboard," an electronic keyboard which lacks discrete keys. Instead of keys, the Seaboard comprises a single, continuous, touch-sensitive surface that vastly increases the number of notes you can play.

In June 2019, ROLI announced the Lumi, another interactive keyboard whose colourful lights are designed to help teach you play music. It is set to ship in October.

Total amount raised: $44.1 million
Headcount: 101-250
Previous rank: 43
Twitter: @RolandLamb



26. Carlo Gualandri, serial entrepreneur taking on expenses

Italian tech entrepreneur Gualandri made headlines earlier this year when his buzzy startup Soldo raised $61 million from VCs including Dawn Capital, Accel, and Battery Ventures.

The expense management platform is just one of the many businesses founded by Gualandri who has a history of building companies from scratch — such as Virgilio, FinecoBank, and Gioco Digitale.

Over 20 years, Gualandri has taken on a variety of issues across disruptive tech including banking, internet services, gaming and payments.

Total amount raised: $83.2 million
Headcount: 120
Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @cgualandri



25. Matt Robinson, the man who guarantees your move

Matt Robinson is the CEO of Nested, one of a flurry of property-related startups in the UK. The company essentially guarantees that anyone putting their property on the market will sell their house — a brave proposition in Brexit Britain.

The firm secured a huge $150 million fundraise in November 2018, suggesting investors very much believe in the market.

It also claims to be the only agent that lets all its customers sell their homes chain-free by putting aside a cash sum — which is up to 97% of their home's expected sale price — towards buying a home. Once a sale is finalized, Nested takes back what it advanced, plus fees.

Robinson is a serial entrepreneur, having cofounded GoCardless in 2010 (he still sits on its board). He also founded a company for training waiters while still a schoolboy, which grew to an annual turnover of around £30,000.

Total amount raised: $206.6 million
Headcount: 51-100
Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @mattjackrob



24. The Facebook statesman, Nick Clegg

Brits will find Facebook's new head of global policy awfully familiar — it's Nick Clegg, the former deputy Prime Minister and ex-Liberal Democrat leader.

Hired by the Silicon Valley tech giant in October of 2018, the 52-year-old politician brings a deep understanding of the corridors of power and how regulatory battles can play out, essential experience as the company faces multi-billion dollar fines and the growing risk of antitrust action.

Plus, more experience leading an idealistic organisation forced to face the harsh realities of power and public scrutiny can't hurt either.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @nick_clegg



23. Joanna Bryson, the member of Google’s disastrous AI ethics council who gave the company a piece of her mind

Joanna Bryson is an associate professor in computer scientist at the University of Bath who this year found herself at the centre of a drama about Google's botched AI ethics board.

In March 2019, Google set up an ethics council to address public concerns about the use of machine learning and facial recognition. Bryson was appointed to the council.

But the council didn't last long. Employees lashed out against the inclusion of another board member, Kay Coles James, a conservative think-thank head with a history of anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.

Google killed the group off less than a week after announcing it, and Bryson expressed her displeasure in a series of tweets. "I thought there were enough smart people at Google that there must be some process for either communicating or improving decisions," she wrote.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @j2bryson



22. The DeepMind founders: Demis Hassabis, Shane Legg, and Mustafa Suleyman

This year DeepMind, arguably the UK's biggest AI success story, turned ten. The company was acquired by Google for £400 million in 2014 and won acclaim in 2015 for designing a computer programme that bested a professional human player at the Chinese board game Go.

DeepMind has had a good year, publishing a paper on predicting acute kidney injury 48 hours before it happens, and producing a series of podcasts interviewing various researchers, engineers and CEO Demis Hassabis. That the firm chooses to maintain its headquarters in the UK is perceived as a boost for British tech.

Life has also become more complicated. The company increasingly has to navigate its position as a Google-owned entity, both a blessing and a liability. Google absorbed DeepMind's applications arm into a new health unit in September, provoking some worry that Google could now access sensitive patient data from the UK's health service.

Just prior to that integration, Bloomberg reported that one of DeepMind's three cofounders, Mustafa Suleyman, had been "placed on leave." Suleyman disputed this version of events, as did DeepMind.

"After ten hectic years, I'm taking some personal time for a break to recharge and I'm looking forward to being back in the saddle at DeepMind soon," Suleyman tweeted.

Headcount: 900
Previous rank:
3
Twitter: @demishassabis, @mustafasuleymn, @ShaneLegg



21. Carol Kane & Mahmud Kamani, the masterminds behind the UK’s hottest fast fashion store

Carol Kane and Mahmud Kamani are the cofounders of Boohoo, the UK's hottest fast fashion retailer that counts Asos, Primark, and Zara as its main competitors.

Since launching in 2006, the company has grown to become a $3.2 billion company with over 3,000 employees at its headquarters in Manchester, and acquired five other brands including California's Nasty Gal and Pretty Little Thing. In the past five years, it has more than tripled its customer base.

In its most recent earnings results, Boohoo announced that it hit £1 billion ($1.23 billion) in sales for the first time between August 2018 and 2019.

Total amount raised: £50 million ($61.2 million)
Headcount:
2,188
Previous rank: New entry



20. Ali Parsa, CEO of Babylon raising big money despite swirling controversy

Babylon Health, the company which promises you a GP in your pocket, has been the subject of some negative headlines over the last year. Wired ran a piece in March highlighting how the way Babylon Health signs up patients drains NHS resources, and Labour MP Andy Slaughter has called for an inquiry into the company. Speak to Babylon Health users though, and they love the ability to speak to a doctor via video call whenever they want.

Founder and CEO Ali Parsa, an Iranian-born entrepreneur and former Goldman Sachs banker, has focused on turbo-charging the firm's growth and finances. 

In August 2019, the company announced a huge $550 million funding round, including funding from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund — the first time the fund had put a major investment into a European startup.

Total amount raised: $635 million
Headcount: 1500+
Previous rank: 39



19. Jony Ive, Apple’s famed design chief striking out on his own

Apple design chief Jony Ive stepped down from Apple in June 2019 after almost 27 years at the company.

The news sent shockwaves around the industry; Ive is a legendary figure at Apple, and his design sensibilities have influenced almost every modern consumer tech product on the market.

Ive was involved with conceiving Apple's most important products – the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and iPod. He joined the company in the early 1990s when it was on the brink of bankruptcy and stayed on as it became the first publicly traded company in the US that is worth more than $1 trillion. He was one of the most company's important executives, alongside current CEO Tim Cook and Apple's famed late cofounder Steve Jobs — a former confidante of Ive.

In an interview with The Financial Times, Ive explained that he is leaving the company to launch his own independent design company called LoveFrom, which will count Apple as one of its main clients. "I'm actually looking forward to contributing in a different way to projects we've been working together on for, in some cases, many years," he told the FT.

Ive's departure from Apple may also give him an opportunity to spend more time in his native UK. Rumours have been floating among Apple insiders that, after Jobs' death, Ive would move his family back to his homeland. He's already a regular attendee at Goodwood, the British festival for classic cars. His wife, Heather Pegg, is also British.

Previous rank: New entry



18. The Oxford trio building the next AI unicorn

Husayn Kassai, Eamon Jubbawy, and Ruhul Amin are the founders of Onfido, an AI-powered identity-verification startup used by firms such as Deliveroo, Zipcar, and Square.

The youthful trio met at Oxford University and subsequently launched Onfido in 2012, and now run their company from London and San Francisco.

The buzzy startup raised $50 million this year from SBI Holdings, a SoftBank spinoff, and has pulled in $100 million from investors to date.

Total amount raised: $44.9 million
Headcount: 101-250
Previous rank: New entry
Twitter
: @HusaynKasai, @eamonjubbawy, @shahruhul



17. Money transfer legends Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus

Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus are the Estonian founders behind TransferWise, one of Europe's most successful financial technology startups from the last decade.

Käärmann is a former management consultant who has been TransferWise's chief executive since 2017. Hinrikus, meanwhile, has stepped back from day-to-day management and has stepped up his angel investments, backing payment API startup Fidel and AI startup Pactum in September 2019.

It's been a strong year for the money transfer company, which broke ground in the US by bringing a travel debit card to American customers. In May it also saw its valuation more than doubt to $3.5 billion, following investment from Lead Edge Capital, Lone Pine, and Vitruvian Partners.

Total amount raised: $772.7 million
Previous rank: 31
Twitter: @taavet,@kaarmann



16. Jaden Ashman became a millionaire playing video games

15-year-old Jaden Ashman became a millionaire this year after being placed second along with his teammate at the Fortnite World Cup finals. Ashman will split the $2.25 million prize with his Dutch teammate, Dave Jong.

In an interview with the BBC, Ashman said he had been playing "Fortnite" since it was first released in 2017, practicing in his room for about eight hours a day, much to his mother's annoyance.

"Me and my mum clash quite a lot," he said. "She didn't understand how it worked, so she thought I was spending eight hours a day in my room just wasting my time."

"Fortnite" is the most popular video game in the world, with more than 250 million registered players. More than 40 million players participated in the qualifying events for the final. 50 duos and 100 solo players made it through, and were competing to take home a cut of the $30 million prize pool — the largest prize pool in the history of e-sports.

Previous rank: New entry
Twitter: @WolfiezGG



15. Poppy Gustafsson, the UK-based Darktrace co-CEO steering the company out of the shadow of Mike Lynch

Poppy Gustafsson is the co-chief executive of British cybersecurity startup Darktrace, running the company with US-based Nicole Eagan.

The firm was born out of investment firm Invoke Capital, the investment vehicle set up by British tech entrepreneur and Autonomy founder Mike Lynch. Gustafsson and Eagan were both executives at Autonomy, a software firm which was bought by HP in 2011 in a blockbuster acquisition. They then went to Invoke Capital.

Darktrace doesn't especially like to talk about the Autonomy connection, since Lynch is currently going through a $5 billion fraud trial in the UK and facing criminal charges in the US over the HP acquisition.

The company may never shake the association but it has hit some milestones to be proud of over the last year. The company hit unicorn status in 2018. And the firm disclosed healthy growth with a revenue jump of 93% in 2018 to £59.4 million ($78 million).

Total amount raised: $230 million
Headcount: 1000
Previous rank: 60
Twitter: @PoppyGustafsson



14. Nikolay Storonsky, founder of fast-moving money-transfer startup Revolut

Revolut's Nikolay Storonsky is a man of few words but many ideas.

Born in Russia, Storonsky started out as an fx trader at Credit Suisse who became increasingly frustrated by the poor rates he received when travelling abroad. He formed Revolut, alongside cofounder Vlad Yatsenko in 2015, and has since helped grow the business into the challenger bank with the most customers in Europe, with six million at last count.

 Despite backing from some of the most esteemed names in VC, including Twitter funder Yuri Milner's DST Global, Revolut has had its fair share of scandals in the past year related to its compliance.

Since then the company has boosted its pool of senior hires and continued to push into new regions with the launch of its Australian beta this year. Perhaps most significantly, in September 2019 news got out that Revolut is planning to hire 3,500 new staff as it pushes into 24 new markets.

The challenger bank has a unicorn valuation and has raised $336.4 million.

Total raised: $336.4 million
Previous rank: 13
Twitter:
@NStoronsky



13. Lila Ibhrahim, DeepMind’s first-ever COO

Although DeepMind is ten years old, it was lacking a COO until last year.

Lila Ibrahim was hired on in April 2018 to help CEO Demis Hassabis mastermind the company's next phase of growth. Questions have swirled about how the research-heavy DeepMind will turn a profit for Google in the long-run after being acquired in 2014, and this year some hints came out of how DeepMind could plug into Alphabet's operations more broadly. In July, DeepMind researchers collaborated with Waymo, Google's self-driving car company, to help make its cars smarter.

Ibrahim, the former COO of Coursera, will also be leading the company's move out of Google's London HQ and into its own building in 2020.

Headcount: 900
Previous rank:
New entry



12. SoftBank’s purse-holder in chief, Rajeev Misra

Rajeev Misra is the CEO of SoftBank Investment Advisers, which manages the Japanese tech firm's $100 billion Vision Fund. In other words, Misra helps to oversee the biggest tech investment firm on the planet.

India-born, London-based Misra is a banker by background and, although powerful, it is SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son who is thought to have the final say on the fund's major investments.

It has been a wobbly year for the fund's reputation. Pouring that amount of money into the tech ecosystem has distorted private company valuations, altered what it means to go public, and raised layered questions about investing and responsibility. Critics question the Vision Fund's ongoing relationship with its main backer Saudi Arabia, which was behind the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

There have also been some notable IPO flops from SoftBank-backed companies, including Uber and WeWork.

Misra remains bullish and has signalled that the fund doesn't plan to alter its strategy. "Does it matter?" Misra said recently in response to questions about overvaluing firms. "We're looking for [a] three times return."

Previous rank: 12



11. Peter Ondrúška, who built AR tech so good Lyft bought it to build its self-driving cars

In 2016, Peter Ondrúška founded augmented reality startup Blue Vision Labs, which built a system which can enable users in virtual space to interact with one another with pinpoint accuracy.

Blue Vision's tech caught the eye of Lyft, which — alongside archrival Uber — is racing to develop autonomous vehicles. The Californian ride-hailing firm saw the potential in Blue Vision's technology, which could be put to another use: Using smartphone cameras to ingest street-level information in great detail, mapping vehicles' surroundings.

In October 2019, news emerged that the ride-hailing company was acquiring Blue Vision Labs along with its 39 staff. Ondrúška is now a director of engineering for Lyft's Level 5 autonomous vehicles division, and Lyft's fleet of drivers are using the technology he grew at Blue Vision to gather hoards of data.

Headcount: 30
Twitter: @pondruska
Previous rank: New entry



10. Anne Boden, expanding Starling Bank into Europe

Anne Boden is CEO of  London-headquartered challenger bank Starling Bank, which is fast closing in on one million users. Starling Bank's success, like others on this list, highlights London as a buzzing fintech ecosystem.

Having spent decades working for a number of banks in a variety of capacities, Boden led the charge to disrupt the financial system in 2014 and has since had major success with Starling despite having no VC funding. In September 2019, it launched a new online banking portal to help support small and medium businesses.

The CEO's expertise comes from her time at Royal Bank of Scotland, ABN Amro, UBS, Standard Chartered, Lloyds, and Allied Irish Banks in a variety of roles, making the Welsh entrepreneur one of the more storied and experienced of London's manifold disruptors.

Previous rank: 5
Twitter: @AnneBoden



9. Guillaume Pousaz raised Europe’s biggest ever Series A round of funding

Guillaume Pousaz is the 38-year-old Swiss entrepreneur behind Checkout.com, a UK payments company that was founded in 2012 and provides the technology for companies to handle customer payments, processing, risk and fraud assessment. Checkout counts Samsung, TransferWise, Adidas, and Virgin as some of its main clients.

Pousaz had been quietly building up the company over the past seven years without any outside investment until this year when he raised $230 million in a round of funding, Europe's biggest ever Series A round which valued the company at a hefty $2 billion.

Pousaz believes that his considered expansion over the past few years is the reason for the company's success. "If you want to build a big house, you better start with a good foundation," he said in a recent conversation with Business Insider. "And I think that we've been building the foundation for years."

Total amount raised: $230 million
Headcount: 450+
Previous rank: New entry



8. Tania Boler, who is getting everyone to talk about improved medical devices for women

Tania Boler is the outspoken cofounder and CEO of Elvie, a startup selling female-friendly medical devices for women that raised $42 million in April 2019.

Her firm currently sells two main products. One is a silent, wearable breast pump that lets women pump any time, anywhere, and which Elvie claims is a world first. The other is a pelvic floor trainer and app that's currently used by the NHS.

When the fundraise was announced, Boler told Business Insider she set up Elvie out of "a sense of anger" at the poor-quality "femtech" she encountered during her previous work as a women's health campaigner. That work included a five-year stint as a director at Marie Stopes International, plus two years as a team leader for UNESCO's HIV prevention programme.

Total funding amount: $53.8 million
Headcount: 51-100
Previous rank: New entry



7. Hiroki Takeuchi, the man at the heart of the GoCardless mafia

Hiroki Takeuchi is the CEO of payments firm GoCardless, which he cofounded in 2011. While his cofounders have branched off to found firms like banking startup Monzo and real-estate company Nested, Takeuchi has remained at the helm at GoCardless and guided it toward ever-greater success.

In February of this year, GoCardless announced a $75 million funding round from investors including GV, Google's venture capital investment arm. Takeuchi, a former analyst at McKinsey, said the money would go toward GoCardless scaling up across Europe.

Total amount raised: $125 million
Headcount: 380
Previous rank: 17 on Business Insider's 2017 list
Twitter: @hirokitakeuchi



6. Will Shu, the man building a food-delivery empire

Will Shu is a cool customer and his food delivery firm Deliveroo is one of the UK's fastest-growing and buzziest tech companies. But all scale-ups face challenges, and this year has thrown up some roadblocks.

There was intense speculation late last year that Deliveroo would either secure funding from SoftBank, or sell to its SoftBank-funded competitor Uber. Neither happened, leaving Deliveroo competing in Europe with well-entrenched local players or constantly up against the well-funded Uber Eats.

A $500 million capital injection, led by Amazon, looked to save the day — but that deal is on ice thanks to an investigation by the UK's competition regulator. That probe is unlikely to move at tech's usual breakneck speed.

The firm has also had some high-level executive turnover and some internal complaints about an intense culture — the natural price, perhaps, of scaling fast.

Shu is well-liked in the investor community, and has a reputation for discipline and focus. A founder who can convince Jeff Bezos to hand over the thick end of half a billion dollars won't struggle to raise more capital.

Total amount raised: $1.5 billion
Previous rank
: 2
Twitter: @WillShuRoo



5. Rishi Khosla, the CEO behind Europe’s largest fintech fundraise

SoftBank is practically a byword for huge investments — but the Japanese tech giant's recent outlay on UK fintech OakNorth is massive, even by its usual dizzying standards. Rishi Khosla, OakNorth's cofounder and CEO, finalized a $390 million investment from SoftBank's Vision Fund in February 2019.

The SoftBank deal formed part of a $440 million venture funding round for Khosla's firm, the largest-ever investment round for a European fintech. Even more impressively for a unicorn, OakNorth is also profitable, recording £33.9 million ($41 million) in pre-tax profits in 2018.

Marketed by Khosla and his cofounder Joel Perlman as a bank "by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs," OakNorth lends to UK-based SMEs and is wholly cloud-hosted thanks to a partnership with Amazon Web Services. In its annual report for 2018, Khosla said Oaknorth had lent a total of $2.6 billion to British businesses.

Total amount raised: $1 billion
Headcount: 501-1000
Previous rank:
New entry



4. Ophelia Brown, the highly focused young investor who set up her own fund

Ophelia Brown is making waves in the UK venture capital scene after raising $85 million in March 2019 to launch a new tech venture capital firm, Blossom Capital.

Brown is something of a young star in European venture capital, having risen through the ranks at Index Ventures and then became general partner at LocalGlobe before setting up her own shop.

She and her team have plucked out a number of interesting bets for Blossom, including travel startup Duffel, AI firm Spell.AI, and peer-to-peer sharing marketplace Fat Llama.

Total amount raised: $85 million
Headcount: 5
Previous rank: 75
Twitter: @ophelia_brown



3. Tom Blomfield, neo-banker on a mission

Founder and CEO of red-hot app-based bank Monzo, Tom Blomfield graduated with a law degree from Oxford before working in the payments industry as part of GoCardless.

He subsequently joined fellow Tech 100 honoree Anne Boden's Starling Bank, before leaving to found Monzo in 2016.

To date, the challenger bank has brought on some two million customers and raised hundreds of millions in funding. 2019 was a blockbuster year for Monzo, launching in the US as it continues its global expansion with Blomfield at the helm.

Total amount raised: £324.7 million ($397.6 million)
Headcount: 1,300
Previous rank:
8
Twitter: @t_blom



2. Maria Raga, the boss of London’s trendiest marketplace that’s helping teens get rich

Maria Raga took over the reins at Depeop in 2016 and has since grown the company at a rapid rate, helping to make it the must-have shopping app for teens across the world.

Best described as a mix of Instagram and eBay, Depop is an easy way to buy and sell anything from clothing, shoes, and accessories to furniture and concert tickets directly from your phone.

With a fresh $62 million in the bank after a June 2019 funding round, Raga is now massively ramping up growth in the US. The plan is to scale "further and faster" in the States, and build a platform that finds and develops the fashion stars and trends of the future, she said in a recent conversation with Business Insider.

Total amount raised: $105.6 million
Headcount: 196
Previous rank: 7
Twitter: @MRaga_Depop



1. Nigel Toon, building a futuristic chip powerhouse

Nigel Toon is the CEO of Bristol-based Graphcore, a next-generation chip company building new types of processors designed for an artificial intelligence-centric world. It's a tough proposition, thanks to the perceived constraints on chip design and the fact Graphcore is competing with multibillion-dollar public rivals like Intel.

Toon is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur, having previously run chip firms Icera (which sold to Nvidia) and Picochip. Serial entrepreneurs of Toon's mould are still relatively rare in the UK, with founders who have successfully exited previous businesses often heading to the other side of the table as venture capitalists, or moving to Silicon Valley.

In person, Toon is understated and focused. Although obviously passionate about making Graphcore into a world leader in next-generation chip tech, he isn't a buzzword kind of guy. That, too, is refreshing.

It's relatively early days in terms of adoption. Having spent $21.8 million on research and development in 2018, Graphcore has handed its technology to a handful of customers. Press reports suggest that some of Graphcore's hottest blue-chip investors, Google's DeepMind and BMW, are working on applications.

The company is now worth a weighty $1.7 billion after raising a further $200 million from blue-chip investors including BMW and Microsoft in December 2018, and is in the process of hiring 500 new staff as part of a massive expansion to Cambridge.

Total amount raised: $310 million
Headcount
: 400
Previous rank: 15



An Austin startup used this pitch deck to raise $14 million to help real estate agents, plumbers, and other small businesses operators better market themselves online

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 6:55pm

  • OutboundEngine provides digital marketing tools and services for small and medium-sized businesses.
  • It helps small companies and operators set up websites, maintain their social media presences, and conduct email marketing campaigns.
  • To date, OutboundEngine has focused on companies in just 12 industries, but plans to service those in 400 sectors by the end of the year.
  • The company used the pitch deck below to raise $14 million to help fund that expansion.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

OutboundEngine has thrived by focusing on businesses on the opposite end of the spectrum, in terms of size.

The Austin, Texas-based startup offers digital marketing services for small and medium-sized businesses, concentrating in particular on sole practitioners, independent insurance and real estate agents, and other companies with no or few employees. OutboundEngine sets up websites for such businesses and operators, helps them set up and maintain a presence on social media sites, and assists them with email marketing campaigns.

OutboundEngine has "built a software platform that does all of the important things for our customers," said CEO Marc Pickren. After they've signed on and set up the service, he continued, customers are "just rocking and rolling. They can just relax and have their marketing done for them."

Founded in 2012, OutboundEngine tries to make its service as easy to use as possible for its customers, Pickren said. The company, which charges between $200 and $500 a month for its services, writes the marketing content on behalf of its clients and distributes it for them. Customers can upload their company logos and photos to the service for use on their websites and marketing, but OutboundEngine only offers them limited choices to customize their sites.

That's intentional, Pickren said. Many of its clients aren't technologically savvy, he said. What's more, small business owners and sole practitioners often don't have the time or the bandwidth to decide the precise color to use on their website or which specific marketing strategy to pursue, he said.

"They're not equipped to make decisions regarding those different marketing tools or different things that are available," Pickren said. "The operative word there is 'equipped.' It's not that they're not smart enough and they couldn't figure it out. It's just that they're busy running their business."

Read this: This New York tech founder's startup raised $52 million to save small businesses from nightmare Yelp reviews. Here's his pitch deck.

Pickren is overseeing a massive expansion

The limited amounts of customization OutboundEngine does offer are items that customers actually use, and that provide value, he said. That's important, because many of its clients have been burned by taking others' advice on how to marketing their businesses online, only to see such efforts fail, he said.

"We're not in the business of constantly adding shiny blinky things because they're cool and everybody else is selling them," Pickren said. "We're in the business of doing the things that work and doing them consistently and reliably every single month."

OutboundEngine has found a ready audience for its services. It has some 10,000 customers spread all over the US and it's now seeing $24 million in annualized sales, he said.

But Pickren thinks the company has plenty of potential ahead of it. About 98% of all US businesses have fewer than 20 employees, if those with no employees at all are included. But for most of its existence, OutboundEngine, which has some 203 employees, has concentrated on those in only around a dozen industries, such as real estate, insurance, and home services.

Pickren, who joined the company last year, is leading the charge to massively expand its services to new industries. By the end of the year, the company plans to offer its marketing software for companies in 400 different categories of business, he said.

Toward that end, OutboundEngine in August raised $14 million in debt and equity financing. The company, which has raised $50 million total to date, plans to use the new funds in part to do its own marketing to all the potential customers to which it's now opening its service, he said.

Small businesses have "really been underserved as it relates to digital innovation," Pickren said. He continued: "They should be getting more of an opportunity to achieve success on their own terms and not get left behind."

Here is the pitch deck OutboundEngine used to raise its latest found of financing:

SEE ALSO: Here's the pitch deck that Silicon Valley startup Arrcus used to raise $30 million to take on Cisco and Arista Networks







































Got a tip about venture capital or startups? Contact this reporter via email at twolverton@businessinsider.com, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.



Sen. Marco Rubio is asking the US government to investigate TikTok over claims it's censoring content that might upset China

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 6:00pm

  • Marco Rubio, the US senator from Florida, has asked the US government to investigate TikTok, the globally popular short-form video app owned by a Chinese company.
  • Rubio wrote on Twitter that there's "ample and growing evidence" that TikTok censors content "in line with China's communist government directives."
  • The Guardian reported last month on internal documents that show TikTok instructed moderators to censor content addressing political issues likely to anger the Chinese government.
  • A TikTok spokesperson told Business Insider that the Chinese government does not ask the social app to censor content, and does not have the jurisdiction to do so because TikTok does not operate in China — its Chinese version of the app is called Douyin.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

US Senator Marco Rubio is calling on the federal government to investigate the popular video-sharing app TikTok based on "ample and growing evidence" that it's censoring content at the request of China.

Rubio posted Wednesday on Twitter to share his concerns about TikTok, the short-form video app owned by the massive Chinese tech company ByteDance.

The senator's request comes just a couple weeks after The Guardian reported on TikTok internal documents that directed platform moderators to censor content that was likely to anger the Chinese government — namely, videos criticizing China's version of political policies and historical events, such as the Tiananmen Square protests.

Have already formally asked Trump administration to fully enforce anti-boycott laws that prohibit any U.S. person—including U.S. subsidiaries of Chinese companies from complying with foreign boycotts seeking to coerce U.S. companies to conform with #China’s government views.

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) October 9, 2019

Read more: Internal documents showed TikTok censoring topics that would anger China

Rubio said he was directing his request to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a federal investigative group housed under the US Department of Treasury that reviews national security implications of foreign investments into the U.S. The committee declined to comment on the matter, citing its policy not to discuss specific cases.

The investment that Rubio is calling to be reviewed is ByteDance's acquisition of Musical.ly, a now-defunct US-born app that was incredibly similar to TikTok. ByteDance — a $75 billion company — bought Musical.ly back in November 2017 in a deal valued at $1 billion. It then shut down Musical.ly a year later in order to merge it with TikTok and launch the app in the US.

TikTok, essentially, doesn't exist in China: Instead, ByteDance operates a similar app there called Douyin, while TikTok operates in international markets outside of the country.

In response to Rubio's call to review TikTok, a TikTok spokesperson told Business Insider that the Chinese government does not request the platform censors content, and that it doesn't have the "jurisdiction" to do so since TikTok doesn't operate in China.

"TikTok US is localized, adheres to US laws, and stores all US user data in the US," the TikTok spokesperson said. "Our content and moderation policies are led by our US-based team and are not influenced by any foreign government."

The statement did not address, however, whether the US-based team's moderation decisions are influenced by its China-based parent company, ByteDance.

The Guardian's recent report about TikTok's moderation guidelines has brought into question how TikTok is suppressing and censoring "highly controversial topics" likely to anger the Chinese government. That's on top of reports from early September that while social media was flooded with images and posts about the massive protests taking place in Hong Kong, TikTok was suspiciously devoid of content showing unrest.

SEE ALSO: Inside the rise of TikTok, the Chinese video-sharing app that's currently the No. 1 iPhone app in the US

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'Countries will only want control': Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak warns governments will stifle crypto growth through heavy regulation

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 5:46pm

  • Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is concerned how global governments will regulate cryptocurrencies going forward. 
  • While speaking at the Nordic Business Forum in Helsinki on Wednesday, Wozniak said he's "very much afraid" countries will "only want control" as cryptocurrencies spread, according to Bloomberg. 
  • The comments come as advocates are battling to legitimize cryptocurrencies and government are trying to determine how to regulate them. 
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

Steve Wozniak is worried about the future of cryptocurrency regulation. 

The Apple co-founder said during a speech at the Nordic Business Forum in Helsinki on Wednesday that he's "very much afraid" that as cryptocurrencies spread, "countries will only want control, because countries make their money controlling their currency," according to a report from Bloomberg. 

"We're going to see a little bit of a revolution in that sense, and regulation, very tight regulation," Wozniak added. 

Bloomberg also reported that Wozniak said he only supports novel blockchain solutions that are improvements from existing technologies such as the decentralized network ledgers system because "if it's kind of like another way to own a share of something.

He added: "It's unquestionable who owns what, you can't have phony trading." 

Wozniak is a known supporter of blockchain-based currencies. In late 2018, he co-founded EQUI Global, a venture capital firm that issues investors a digital currency called EquiTokens.

His comments also come as central banks around the world are assessing the impact of cryptocurrencies on financial markets, and advocates are trying to legitimize the technology. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to testify in front of Congress regarding the social media giant's new cryptocurrency initiative called Libra. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and President Trump have both expressed concerns about Facebook's push into crypto. 

Read more: A group of small tech stocks is quietly dominating the FANGs after lagging behind for years. Here's why a Wall Street expert is convinced its gains are just getting started.

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NOW WATCH: Super-Earths are real and they could be an even better place to live than Earth

Amid a company meltdown and employee revolt, WeWork is sponsoring LinkedIn ads offering to help address 'lagging team morale'

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 5:31pm

  • WeWork has at least one promoted ad on LinkedIn offering to advise employers on how to reinvigorate "lagging team morale." 
  • Former WeWork employees have called out the startup for its chaotic company culture, which involved partying, long workdays, and high turnover. 
  • Most other LinkedIn ads promote renting the office's co-working space.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

WeWork, the embattled co-working platform, wants to help LinkedIn users suffering from low company morale.

A WeWork ad on LinkedIn appeared to promote ways experts can help bring offices "back to life" from disengaged employees and lagging team morale:

On its website, LinkedIn states it targets ads to different audiences, so only a fraction of users saw the ad on their page. Most other ads listed under the company's LinkedIn page promote the company's co-working space in multiple languages, given WeWork's presence in 29 countries.

Read more: Sex, tequila, and a tiger: Employees inside Adam Neumann's WeWork talk about the nonstop party to attain a $100 billion dream and the messy reality that tanked it

The promoted ad advising on "lagging company morale" comes as many WeWork employees have called out the startup's chaotic work culture. Business Insider reached out to WeWork for comment.

Former and current employees — from cleaners to higher-up managers — spoke of the company's tequila-fueled party culture and long work days. Employees told Business Insider's Julie Bort and Meghan Morris of alleged sexual harassment from company executives, resulting in at least one employee lawsuit for gender discrimination. 

Other WeWork employees spoke of the "truly, truly insane" company turnover. Three former employees said every new month they received a new manager.

The company's reputation has soured employees so much, many worry having WeWork on their resume is a "black mark against them." 

The WeWork posted their ad on lagging team morale to LinkedIn two weeks ago, following its botched IPO filing and around the time news reports began detailing the CEO Adam Neumann's idiosyncratic management style.

Even before the recent company controversy, at least two Twitter users complained of seeing too many WeWork sponsored ads on LinkedIn:

"Every day I report to LinkedIn that I do not want to see another ad about WeWork, and the next day, if not the next hour, I am bombarded with WeWork sponsored posts again," Eric Di Benedetto, a private investor, tweeted in January. "What a stupid use of VC money!!!" (Di Benedetto declined to comment for this article).

Every day I report to LinkedIn that I do not want to see another ad about WeWork, and the next day, if not the next hour, I am bombarded with WeWork sponsored posts again.

What a stupid use of VC money!!!

— Eric Di Benedetto (@ericdibenedetto) January 19, 2019

 

"Hey @WeWork. Ever hear of frequency capping? Your starting to SPAM your best source of leads with @LinkedIn ads," Troy Norcross tweeted in 2016.

Hey @WeWork. Ever hear of frequency capping? Your starting to SPAM your best source of leads with @LinkedIn ads

— Troy Norcross (@troy_norcross) January 5, 2016

 

On its website, LinkedIn states its sponsored ads are meant to target specific audiences on the site to promote a business or product. LinkedIn states its audience has double the amount of buying power as the average web audience, presumably given the white-collar professionals that use the service. 

The cost of putting ads on LinkedIn depend on how much engagement your ads get and which audiences you want to target. Companies "bid" to put ads on the site in an auction where the highest offer gets to place their content.

Per its advertising policy, LinkedIn will remove ads that are "offensive to good taste," meaning hateful, vulgar, sexual, or violent. Posts that are initially approved can be later taken down as LinkedIn "updates its policies to reflect new laws."

SEE ALSO: Governance sank WeWork from the start, a VC and Stanford lecturer says. Here's what any founder can learn from Adam Neumann's cautionary tale.

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Massive 'Cluckingham Palace' built for $15 million by the cofounder of a chicken empire is being auctioned off to the highest bidder two years after his death

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 5:30pm

In 1992, a 18,327-square-foot home sitting on 43 acres of land in Pittsburg, Texas, was built for billionaire Lonnie Alfred "Bo" Pilgrim.

Pilgrim cofounded Pilgrim's Pride, which used to be one of the largest suppliers of poultry products in the world, with his brother Aubrey in 1946, growing it from a small feed store in Pittsburg and turning it into a global powerhouse after Aubrey's 1966 death. Eventually, the company became a supplier for major brands like Walmart, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Wendy's. 

Read more: Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard is selling his California estate for nearly $52 million. Here's a look inside the property, complete with a sprawling mansion, a 2-story guest house, and its own putting green.

After amassing his fortune in the chicken business, Pilgrim commissioned architect Richard Drummond Davis to build a "French Renaissance dream" palace with ornate gold leaf and marble decor, according to Robb Report; it cost about $15 million to build at the time.

But now, two years after Pilgrim's 2017 death, his son is auctioning off his father's dream home through Concierge Auctions. According to the company's listing, the online sale will run from October 15 through October 18. Local agents are also currently listing the property for $8.95 million

Here's a look inside the six-bedroom, 10-bathroom estate known to locals as "Cluckingham Palace."

SEE ALSO: George Vanderbilt started building himself a private mansion in North Carolina in 1889 — and 130 years later, it's still the biggest house in the US. Take a look inside.

DON'T MISS: A 200,683-acre ranch where the Mrs. Fields Cookies founder once lived is selling for $45 million. Here's a look inside the sprawling property, complete with cattle, Scottish stained glass, and its very own river.

The massive Pittsburg, Texas, estate is being auctioned off in an online sale starting October 15.

Source: Concierge Auctions



The two-story home has six bedrooms, 10 full bathrooms and 10 half bathrooms. It has both formal and informal dining areas, reception areas, home offices, a fitness room, and a screening room.

Source: Concierge Auctions



There's a chandelier in the ornate entryway, surrounded by wrought-iron balustrades, a marble staircase, and marble pillars with gold detailing.

Source: Concierge Auctions



The living room makes use of soft pastel colors and Rococo-styled marble dressers.

Source: Concierge Auctions



According to Concierge Auctions, the estate's gardens were designed by local Dallas landscape architects Naud Burnett & Partners.

Source: Concierge Auctions



One of many dining rooms features another chandelier hanging over the table.

Source: Concierge Auctions



The surrounding property includes three ponds and a creek, with a fresh water well.

Source: Concierge Auctions



The French-style windows look out on a manicured garden.

Source: Concierge Auctions



Pilgrim had this indoor pool designed after the Greenbrier Resort spa in White Sulphyr Springs, West Virginia.

Source: Concierge Auctions



The home has two stories, with garden detailing around the entry way. And it can all be yours for a cool $8.95 million — or potentially less, if you want to take your chances bidding in the auction.

Source: Concierge Auctions



Adam Neumann lent money to phone distributor PCS Wireless this spring, showing how his family office is investing beyond startups

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 5:28pm

  • WeWork founders Adam and Rebekah Neumann's family office has loaned money to PCS Wireless, the phone distributor company, Business Insider has learned.
  • Family office activities are often kept under wraps. The short-term PCS loan marks the second instance of lending Business Insider has found this week. 
  • The other loan went to a British startup boss who was later fired from his company over allegations of gross misconduct. 
  • For more stories about WeWork, click here.

Family offices are notoriously secretive. The investment arms for the mega-rich often do deals with like-minded groups, staying out of headlines.

This week, Business Insider found two examples of the kind of investments WeWork founders Adam and Rebekah Neumann have made through their family office.

Two loans – a personal loan to a UK startup founder, and another short-term business loan to a major mobile phone distributor – show how varied the family office's activities have been. They also offer clues about how the Neumanns planned to make money outside of WeWork, under the direction of former General Catalyst investor Ilan Stern. He leads their family office, called 166 2nd Financial Services, named after the New York building where Adam and Rebekah Neumann once lived.

On Tuesday, BI reported that the family office lent $110,000 to a British startup boss who was later fired from the UK energy technology startup Faraday Grid over allegations of gross misconduct. That loan came after the family office invested $30 million in Faraday Grid in January, while Neumann still the chief executive of WeWork.

Now, BI has learned that 166 2nd made a much different kind of loan in the spring, one that sheds light on how the family office is deploying money outside of startups and personal connections. Neumann has personally invested in a number of startups with his WeWork wealth since 2013, also backing Pins, Feature.fm, Tunity, Selina, EquityBee, InterCure, and Hometalk, according to Crunchbase.

The spring loan is also a window into how the Neumanns are investing outside of WeWork, which shelved plans to go public after a tumultuous lead-up to an IPO that saw Adam Neumann step down as CEO. He is staying on as non-executive chairman.

Loan for a cash flow crunch

PCS Wireless, the Florham Park, New Jersey-based mobile phone distributor, needed a short-term loan to help with a cash flow crunch in the spring, said a person involved in the deal. A document filed with the state of Florida shows that 166 2nd secured the loan in late March. 

The loan, which covered only a few months, has since been repaid, the source said. It's unclear how much 166 2nd lent to PCS. 

A spokeswoman for the family declined to comment on the loan. 

PCS, a privately-held company, borrowed from 166 2nd in a deal arranged by Stern, the source said. The borrower had little interaction with the Neumanns. Often, parties doing business with family offices don't work with the families directly, since they have intermediaries like Stern to oversee their portfolios.  

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (646) 768-1627 using a non-work phone, email at mmorris@businessinsider.com, or Twitter DM at @MeghanEMorris. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop

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Bed Bath & Beyond surges more than 20% after naming former Target executive as CEO (BBBY)

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 5:11pm

Investors look to be thrilled with Bed Bath & Beyond's pick for CEO. 

Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond soared more than 20% in after-hours trading after the company announced that Mark Tritton will be its CEO and president starting November 4, 2019. He will succeed interim CEO Mary Winston.

Tritton was previously executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at Target, a major competitor. He brings more than 30 years of retail experience to the top role at Bed Bath and Beyond, and in addition to his time at Target has held positions at Nordstrom, Timberland, and Nike. 

"Mark's ability to re-define the retail experience and drive growth at some of the world's most successful retailers and brands makes him uniquely equipped to lead Bed Bath & Beyond during this critical time in our evolution," Patrick Gaston, chairman of Bed Bath & Beyond's board, said in a press release.

Read more: Dyslexic, failing at school, and partially blind: How Larry Hite overcame the odds to become one of the most successful self-made stock traders using a strategy that's 'accessible to anybody'

He continued: "As an integral contributor to Target's impressive transformation, we will benefit from his vision, leadership, and creativity to successfully transform our business."

The announcement comes just a week after the company reported its second-quarter earnings. Even though the report topped analyst estimates on earnings per share, it fell short on the important metrics of revenue and same store sales. The earnings release sent shares down as much as 2.6% 

Bed Bath & Beyond had declined 12% year-to-date through Wednesday's close.

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Why I'm swapping my beloved Nordstrom Visa for the Chase Freedom card for holiday shopping

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 4:43pm

  • Store credit cards aren't always the best deal, but I love the Nordstrom card for benefits like early access to Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale and 3x points on purchases at the store.
  • I plan to do some holiday shopping at Nordstrom this year, and while I'd usually put this spending on the Nordstrom card to earn bonus points, I'm planning to use another card: the Chase Freedom.
  • The Chase Freedom offers 5% cash back (or 5x points) on up to $1,500 in purchases on rotating bonus categories that you have to activate each quarter of the year. This quarter, one of the categories is department stores, including Nordstrom.
  • This means I can earn 5x points on Nordstrom purchases — up to 7,500 points that I could use toward travel like a United flight or a Hyatt hotel stay.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

I usually steer clear of store credit cards. They don't offer great purchase protections and generally only offer solid rewards when you shop at the store in question, and they're the worst-possible choice if you need to carry a balance, with some of the highest interest rates around. When friends or family ask me what card they should open, I direct them to rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Blue Cash Preferred® Credit Card from American Express instead.

However, there's a special place in my heart for the Nordstrom credit card. Not only does it earn you points toward $20 Nordstrom Notes, but it also gives you early access to the store's Anniversary Sale. Plus, it has no annual fee, so I never have to worry about whether I'm using the perks enough to justify keeping it open as long as I pay off my balance in full to avoid interest.

I only use my Nordstrom card for Nordstrom purchases, since it only earns the bonus of 3x points on purchases with this retailer. With the holiday season approaching, I will no doubt be making a purchase (or four) at this department store, but for the time being I'm actually putting away my Nordstrom card in favor of the Chase Freedom card. Here's why.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.

When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.

Chase Freedom, my current go-to card for Nordstrom purchases

The Chase Freedom is a cash-back card with no annual fee and a rewards structure that you'll either love or hate depending on your tolerance for keeping track of changing categories. It offers 5% back on the first $1,500 you spend in combined purchases each quarter you activate on select bonus categories. The bonus categories change every quarter, and they tend to include things like grocery stores, gas stations, and drugstores.

As someone who enjoys maximizing every dollar I spend (read: a huge nerd), I love this bonus format. Some quarters, I can't make much use of the Freedom's bonus categories, but other times, like this quarter, I can easily utilize them to earn lots of bonus points.

Read more: Chase Freedom card review

5% back at Nordstrom

From October through November, the Chase Freedom will earn 5% back at department stores, and on Apple Pay and Chase Pay purchases. Cardholders can earn 5% back on the first $1,500 in combined purchases made in these bonus categories, provided they activate the bonus (you'll be prompted to do so by email).

I'm not much of a mobile wallet user, but I do love me a good department store. More than two dozen department stores are eligible for the Chase Freedom bonus, including Bloomingdales, Kohls, Neiman Marcus, Saks, and my favorite: Nordstrom.

This is perfect timing, too, since I usually do at least part of my holiday shopping, not to mention turn-of-the-season clothing shopping, at this store.

Read more: Chase Freedom quarterly bonus calendar

The Freedom can earn points toward travel

The 5% cash back is great, but if you, like me, want to earn travel points, it gets even better. If the Freedom is your only Chase card, your rewards will be in the form of cash back. But if you also have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can move your Freedom rewards over to your Ultimate Rewards account to redeem them in the form of points. That's how 5% back can become 5x points with the Freedom's bonus categories.

The Points Guy values Chase points at 2 cents apiece, so combining your rewards doubles the return on your spending from 5% back to 10%. 

Read more: How to turn cash back into Ultimate Rewards points with Chase cards

What to shop at Nordstrom

There are already plenty of Nordstrom items on my personal shopping list right now.

The retailer is running an Everlane popup through November 17 and I'm eyeing several items already like its classic Day Boot ($225) or the new ReKnit Day Glove Boot ($155), a stretchy knitted version of the original. You can read our reviews of the Day Boot and the ReKnit boots here

There are also Nordstrom exclusives like this $90 La Mer skin-care set normally valued at $122, and a trio of best-selling Orgasm products from NARS valued at $61 but costs $35. Both are great deals and worth buying two — one for myself and another as a holiday gift. 

Click here to learn more about the Chase Freedom.

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These are the 5 companies Bank of America just added to its quarterly list of top climate-change stock picks (NOVA, AIN, CWEN, SNPS, TXN)

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 4:34pm

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch added five companies to its list of "primer picks" companies in the climate change space.
  • Sunnova Energy and Albany International are first-time entries for the climate change segment, while the other three had graced the list before.
  • A company must be rated "buy" by the bank and have "high or medium exposure" to the climate change theme to be included as a primer pick, the note said.
  • Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch added five companies to its list of "primer picks" related to climate change efforts.

The bank published the fourth-quarter update to its primer picks list Tuesday, adding 63 companies in total. The list covers industry themes including big data, robotics, education, and space.

Sunnova Energy and Albany International are new entries for the climate change segment, while the other three had graced the list before. BAML removed four companies from the theme. Current members include Tesla, Amazon, and Alphabet.

A company must be rated a "buy" by BAML and have "high or medium exposure" to its respective theme to be included as a Primer Pick, the note said.

Here are the five companies added to the bank's list of climate change primer picks, by descending market cap.

Read more: Dyslexic, failing at school, and partially blind: How Larry Hite overcame the odds to become one of the most successful self-made stock traders using a strategy that's 'accessible to anybody'

Texas Instruments (TXN)

Market Cap: $119.4 billion

Year-to-date performance: up 35%

Sub-sector: Semiconductors

Theme exposure: Medium



Synopsys (SNPS)

Market Cap: $20.4 billion

Year-to-date performance: up 62%

Sub-sector: Energy Efficiency - Internet of Things

Theme exposure: Medium



Albany (AIN)

Market Cap: $2.61 billion

Year-to-date performance: up 36%

Sub-sector: Energy Efficiency - Industrials

Theme exposure: High



Clearway Energy (CWEN)

Market Cap: $1.42 billion

Year-to-date performance: up 12%

Sub-sector: YieldCo

Theme exposure: High



Sunnova Energy (NOVA)

Market Cap: $786.9 million

Year-to-date performance: down 17%

Sub-sector: Solar

Theme exposure: High



Fed officials are worried Trump’s trade war will disrupt the strongest parts of the US economy, minutes show

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 3:52pm

  • Federal Reserve officials have grown increasingly concerned that ongoing trade tensions with China could begin to weigh on some of the brightest spots in the US economy.
  • They said uncertainty from tariffs could begin to ripple through to hiring and consumer spending, meeting minutes out Wednesday afternoon showed. 
  • The FOMC has become divided over policy since it lowered interest rates to a target range of 1.75% to 2% last month.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Federal Reserve officials have grown increasingly concerned that ongoing trade tensions with China could begin to weigh on some of the brightest spots in the US economy: hiring and consumer spending. Other concerns for policymakers included slower growth abroad and below-target inflation. 

"Several participants mentioned that uncertainties in the business outlook and sustained weak investment could eventually lead to slower hiring, which, in turn, could damp the growth of income and consumption," said minutes from the September meeting that were released Wednesday afternoon. 

Policymakers also saw trade tensions as a central risk to business investment, exports, and manufacturing production, the minutes showed. Tariffs on thousands of products shipped between the US and China have raised costs for Americans and clouded the business outlook. 

"Important factors in that assessment were that international trade tensions and foreign economic developments seemed more likely to move in directions that could have significant negative effects on the U.S. economy than to resolve more favorably than assumed," the minutes said.

The Federal Open Market Committee has become divided over policy since it lowered interest rates to a target range of 1.75% to 2% last month, with several dissenting from the policy decision. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard argued for a larger cut, while Kansas City Fed President Esther George and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren voted to keep rates unchanged.

"The September minutes make it clear that most FOMC members are much more concerned about the downside risks to growth than any upside inflation threat," said Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. "The trade war and slower global growth are the key worries."

On Tuesday, Fed Chairman Jay Powell announced the central bank would soon increase its purchases of government-backed securities after weeks of volatility in money markets. But he stressed the move should be seen as a technical measure and not an effort to stimulate the economy. 

The FOMC is scheduled to announce its next interest-rate decision on October 30.

Now read: Ray Dalio warns the White House's latest plan to clamp down on Chinese investment could soon become a reality. Here's why he thinks 'all market participants need to worry.'

SEE ALSO: Powell says the Federal Reserve will expand its balance sheet 'soon'

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