Many UK tech startups are beginning to move well beyond their venture capital funding phases to more established stages of growth. As they’ve expanded into new markets, they’ve looked to establish strategic commercial relationships with industry incumbents and other large corporations, which venture capital firms would most likely find it hard to provide.
Examples of these include Deliveroo’s colossal $575m funding round earlier this year in May (the largest raise by a British startup ever). This round was led by Amazon, who sees Deliveroo as a means to help dominate the European food delivery market as it battles against the other US tech giant operating in this space: Uber Technologies Inc. Other participants in the round were all large asset managers, such as T. Rowe Price and Fidelity. Whilst leading Silicon Valley VC firm Greenoaks Capital did participate, the money for this round was supplied primarily by Amazon.
So, as startups like Deliveroo mature, a new wave of technology companies are emerging to receive sizeable rounds of venture capital to advance new software products. In this post, we’ve highlighted the largest tech venture capital investments of 2019 so far. This helps indicate where VC partners see future growth in the software market.
The largest tech venture capital investments of 2019 so far
led by: dst global, Insight Capital
In May, Checkout.com became the UK’s latest unicorn startup, and the first to reach such a valuation through a Series A funding round. They’d kept very quiet up until this point, having bootstrapped their way to a turnover of £35m in 2017 after just five years of operations.
Checkout’s developers have developed a suite of payment processing software tools, helping merchants process online payments from a range of geographies and in over 150 currencies. Additional products provide fraud detection services. They now boast numerous large clients, including Samsung, Deliveroo, and Adidas.
led by: accel, technology crossover ventures
Also raising in May, WorldRemit also became a unicorn through their Series D funding round, reaching a valuation of over $900m. A close competitor to leading international transfer startup Transferwise and the industry incumbent Western Union, WorldRemit allows users to transfer money to international accounts. This service is mainly used by expat workers looking to return earnings to family and friends abroad.
At the time of their funding round, the company claimed to be serving 4 million customers, transferring money from 50 “send” countries to 150 “receive”. According to press releases in 2018 they received licenses to operate in all 50 US states, becoming one of the first British financial service firms to do so.
WorldRemit clearly sees its low-fee, digitised platform as a credible mechanism for enhancing international development; by saving money on transfer fees, immigrant workers can send more of their earnings home, increasing economic growth in home markets.
led by: accel, technology crossover ventures
Monzo needs little introduction, but is without a doubt one of the UK’s two leading consumer challenger banks, alongside Revolut. This large funding round will help the company roll out its app in the US, as it seeks to enter new markets and outcompete its myriad of rivals.
This round was led by America’s most successful startup accelerator Y Combinator, via their “Continuity” growth fund.
led by: target global
One of the biggest raises ever by a British Insurtech startup, Zego’s funding will be used to enhance their online platform, which provides insurance products to workers in the rapidly growing gig economy. The company’s main partners include Deliveroo, Uber, Uber Eats, and Stuart, illustrating where their market lies: freelancers providing mobility services to new tech companies operating in the food delivery, courier, and ride hailing sectors.
The round was led by Target Global, a Berlin-headquartered VC fund that opened a London office in April.
led by: sequoia capital
Following hot on the heels of Darktrace, the UK unicorn using artificial intelligence to bolster cybersecurity software, Tessian’s Series B round in February makes the startup one of the UK’s best funded cybersecurity startups. Their software uses machine learning to help identify risks and security gaps in the realm of enterprise emails. For example, this software will send warning emails to a company’s employees if they are about to send a new type of email that may contain sensitive data to someone outside the organisation.
Interestingly, the lead backer in this round was Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley’s most successful venture capital funds, who have backed US tech giants such as WhatsApp, Airbnb, Paypal, Youtube, and Apple. Their participation is a prestigious boost to this London’s based startup’s prospects.
led by: accel
Perhaps less well-known than the other startups in this post, Privitar develops “privacy risk” software. This is software which helps companies and public sector organisations safely access and analyse the data they possess without violating the privacy of the individuals to who the data actually belongs, and without violating privacy laws. This is very relevant at a time when Facebook and other tech giants come under huge amounts of scrutiny for how they handle the huge amounts of user data they regularly use.
Current customers include HSBC and the NHS. Accel, another of Silicon Valley’s most prolific VCs, led this latest funding round. Interestingly, Cambridge-based IQ Capital, which tends to focus on the Cambridge tech scene, also participated.
Note: in this list we exluded all equity funding rounds led by non-venture capital funds, such as private equity firms like KKR, or corporate venture funds like Google Ventures