Email security startup Tessian raises $13M led by Balderton and Accel

Tessian (formerly called CheckRecipient), the London-based startup that is deploying machine learning to improve email security, has raised $13 million in Series A funding. Leading the round is Balderton Capital, and existing backer Accel. A number of previous investors also followed on, including Amadeus Capital Partners, Crane, LocalGlobe, Winton Ventures, and Walking Ventures.

Founded in 2013 by three engineering graduates from Imperial College — Tim Sadler, Tom Adams and Ed Bishopon — Tessian is built on the premise that humans are the weak link in company email and data security. This can either be through mistakes, such as a wrongly intended recipient, or through nefarious employee activity. By applying “machine intelligence” to monitoring company email, the startup has developed various tools to help prevent this.

Once installed on a company’s email systems, Tessian’s machine learning tech analyses an enterprise’s email networks to understand normal and abnormal email sending patterns and behaviours. It then attempts to detects anomalies in outgoing emails and warns users about potential mistakes before an email is sent. This, the startup says, makes it different to legacy rule-based technologies and that Tessian requires “no admin from security teams and no end-user behaviour change”.

One neat aspect is that Tessian can get to work retroactively, producing historical reports that show how many misaddressed emails an organisation has sent prior to the installation date. That is bound to help with sales, even if it could give an enterprise’s security team quite a shock, especially in light of recent GDPR data regulation in Europe. The new EU directive stipulates that companies must report data breaches involving personal information to their local regulator and face fines as high as 4 percent of global turnover for the worst data breaches.

In a call late last week with Tessian CEO and co-founder Tim Sadler, he told me the company plans to use the additional funding for R&D, including the launch of new product, and to expand its sales and marketing teams. Since the startup’s seed round last year, the Tessian team has grown from 13 to 50 people.

In terms of future products, Sadler explained that is looking to apply its tech to in-bound email, in addition to Tessian’s current out-bound products. One way to think about email, he says, is that an email address is like an IP address for humans, enabling human to human networks. However, in terms of security, not only are humans an obvious weak point, acting as the gatekeeper to the network and the data that resides on it, email by design is inherently open.

To that end, Sadler tells me that next on Tessian’s roadmap is a way to make in-bound email less prone to data breaches. This will include using Tessian’s machine intelligence to identify spoofed emails or other unusual communication.

“What Tessian have done — and this is why we are so excited about them — is apply machine intelligence to understand how humans communicate with each other and use that deeper understanding to secure enterprise email networks,” says Balderton Capital Partner Suranga Chandratillake. “The genius of this approach is that while the product focus today is on email — by far the most used communication channel in the corporate enterprise — their technology can be applied to all communication channels in time. And, as we all communicate in larger volumes and on more channels, that represents a vast opportunity”.

Meanwhile, Sadler says the startup’s customers span legal, healthcare and financial services, but that any enterprise handling sensitive data are a potential fit. “World leading organisations like Schroders, Man Group and Dentons and over 70 of the UK’s leading law firms are now using platform to protect their email networks,” adds the company.

Marley Spoon, the cook-at-home meal kit service, announces IPO

Marley Spoon, the meal kit subscription service that competes with the likes of Blue Apron and HelloFresh, has filed for an IPO in Australia. The Berlin-headquartered company is aiming to raise 70 million Australian Dollars (approximately $53m), and has chosen to list on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in part because Australia is one of its strongest markets. It also operates in the U.S. and in four European countries, including Germany.

The IPO, which should complete in early July, will give Marley Spoon an indicative market capitalisation of ~200 million AUD (~$152m) on listing, priced at $1.42 per CDI. The majority of capital to be raised has already been placed with various public market institutional investors in Australia and a number of other eligible jurisdictions, while a minority will be made available to Australian resident investors via an allocation from their broker in a couple of week’s time, as per regulatory rules.

As with a number of other competing recipe kit services, the Marley Spoon proposition sees it deliver pre-portioned fresh ingredients for each recipe offered, so as to make it easier, more inspiring, and more cost-effective to cook at home. However, co-founder and CEO Fabian Siegel — who was previously co-CEO of online take-out marketplace Delivery Hero — has long argued that the weekly grocery shop, and to some extent restuarants, is the company’s direct competition.

To help with this, in the U.S. Marley Spoon has a partnership with Martha Stewart under the Martha & Marley Spoon brand. More recently, the company launched a cheaper, more mass-market offering called Dinnerly in a bid to make meal-kits less price sensitive and widen the product category’s appeal.

Siegel says the primary channel of customer acquisition is via customer referrals — for which no incentives are currently offered. In terms of paid marketing, Facebook trumps Google, since nobody really searches for recipe kits online and awareness that the product category exists at all is and remains the main challenge.

To that end, Marley Spoon claims 110,000 active customers across Australia, the U.S., Austria, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands (about a tenth the size of HelloFresh in the U.S.), and has forecast revenue of 93 million Euros this year.

Regards the decision to list on ASX, as of March this year, Australia represented 37 per cent of its revenue, which is slightly ahead of the U.S. and Europe. Siegel also tells me Marley Spoon is already break-even in Australia and is expected to be profitable in the country in the second half of the 2018 financial year, a pattern the company is aiming to replicate in other markets.

Asked why Marley Spoon has shunned further VC or private equity funding, Siegel, who was previously a Partner at Rocket Internet’s venture arm GFC, says he wants to be in it for the long term, and that an IPO — which sees 34 per cent of the company listed — means that the management team retains control. “You shouldn’t just blindly do what other people do, you have to understand what venture capital means for you,” he says, noting that VC was crucial to start the business and get it off the ground, but now he has decided it is “not the right thing for us”.

Specifically, since the channel switch from offline to online hasn’t yet really happened — which Siegel says it will eventually — he believes an IPO buys Marley Spoon enough time to grow the company at the same pace as the market for online grocery develops, rather than spending excessively on customer acquisition and other short term growth strategies.

“It’s a unique approach… We are still at day one now and we still have to prove to ourselves and the rest of the world that this in the end will have been the better strategy,” he says, candidly. But if it is, there’s a lot more of the $6.1 trillion global grocery market to eat into.

TransferWise partners with France’s second largest bank BPCE Groupe

TransferWise might be best known for its international money transfer app, but the European fintech unicorn has always had ambitions of being a broader platform play entirely agnostic of how you access the service. This includes providing banks with access to the TransferWise API to power their own international money transfer features. However, perhaps understandably — given that the company also competes with banks — these partnerships have been small in number.

With that said, today TransferWise is adding what looks like its most significant banking partner to date: BPCE Groupe, France’s second largest bank. The partnership will see TransferWise provide international money transfer services for BPCE Groupe’s 15 million or so customers, which, the company notes, is the first time a major bank in Europe will directly integrate TransferWise’s API into its mobile banking apps.

TransferWise’s existing bank partnerships are with Estonia’s LHV, and German challenger bank N26. It was due to add U.K. challenger bank Starling to the list, but the integration with the bank’s app never materialised and TechCrunch learned last week that the partnership has now dissolved entirely.

Meanwhile, the partnership between Groupe BPCE/Natixis Payments and TransferWise isn’t set to be launched until the beginning of 2019. Once it does launch, the bank’s customers be able to send money outside of the eurozone at TransferWise’s standard fees via the banks’ app.

“Both TransferWise and BPCE are committed to offering the best possible service and the fairest deal to their customers and this collaboration is an important step in making that a reality for everyone,” says TransferWise. “The service will enable BPCE customers to send money to over 60 countries at TransferWise’s usual low fee of 0.5 per cent on most currency routes and at the mid-market exchange rate”.

Adds Kristo Käärmann, co-founder and CEO of TransferWise: “TransferWise has a mission to make money move around the world as fast and as cheaply as email. This partnership is a momentous step on that journey – for the first time a major mainstream bank is offering its customers the chance to benefit from TransferWise’s lightning fast, low cost service. It’s proof that we can scale our technology, which will allow other big institutions to seamlessly integrate with the service”.

On that note, it will be interesting to see how TransferWise continues to walk the tight rope of partnering whilst, in some ways and with increasing feature parity, competing with the same potential partners.

The original target for the company’s consumer and business money transfer app was incumbent banks who typically charge high fees for international money transfers and aren’t always transparent about the way they mark up the underlying exchange rate. And more recently it has launched its “Borderless” account, a multi-currency banking product that includes a debit card and lets you deposit, send and spend money. However, TransferWise co-founder and Chairman Taavet Hinrikus has always insisted that the Borderless account is designed to work as a companion product to your main current account and not a fully fledged bank replacement.

White Star Capital raises new $180M fund to help startups go international

Global venture capital firm White Star Capital has closed a second fund of $180 million, money it plans to invest in “transatlantic” companies that need help to go international. The VC already has a presence in London, New York, and Montreal, and as part if its new fund is adding Paris and Tokyo to the list.

Oversubscribed from an initial target of $140 million, apparently, White Star says it will invest in around 20 new companies from the new fund, writing opening cheques of between $1 million and $6 million. White Star’s first fund of $70 million closed in 2015 and the VC has backed around 26 startups to date. Notably, the firm has already invested in eight companies from its second fund.

They span Seed to Series B and include fintech and insurtech companies Borrowell (Canada) and Clark (Germany), as well as “disruptive commerce” models Vention (Canada), Meero (France), and Butternut Box (U.K.). The fund has also invested in digital health companies Echo (U.K.) and Dialogue (Canada), as well as data-as-a-service company Unacast (US).

LPs in the new fund include institutional investors such as Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Fonds de solidarité FTQ (FSTQ), the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Korea Venture Investment Corporation (KVIC), Investissement Quebec, ARKEA Group, Mizuho Securities, Swen Capital Partners, Isomer Capital, Walter Financial, Clerville Investment Management, Temaris Capital, Simone Investments, and Portag3 Ventures. In addition, a number of multinational corporate groups have invested including Veolia, La Capitale, Corporate Groupe ADP, Ubisoft and Unisys Corporation through Canal Ventures.

In a call last week, White Star Capital Managing Partner and co-founder Eric Martineau-Fortin told me the VC will look to focus on three specific areas of investment. They are fintech, “disruptive commerce”, and algorithms and sensors.

Asked if most of the unbundling of various consumer financial services was now “done” and that we are now likely to see a next phase of consolidation, the VC didn’t disagree but pointed me to insurance, which is an industry still very much ripe for the picking. White Star has already made two insurtech investments and I got the impression it isn’t done yet.

The firm is also keeping an eye on how technologies like Blockchain is developing but Martineau-Fortin said he hasn’t been persuaded that the use cases were there quite yet.

More broadly, White Star’s new fund will continue to seek out companies that use data as a competitive advantage and where the fund’s “operational experience and physical presence can help companies scale internationally”.

Meanwhile, to help beef up its own global presence, White Star Capital has recruited Matthieu Lattes, who was previously a VC specialist at Rothschild, as its new Partner in Paris. In addition, Shun Nagao has joined as a Venture Partner in Tokyo, and Lylan Masterman has been promoted to Partner in the VC firm’s office in New York.

Alongside Martineau-Fortin (who tells me he is partly relocating from New York to Paris to lead the firm’s presence in France), the firm’s other personnel are Jean-Francois Marcoux (the former co-founder of mobile game publisher Ludia), and Christian Hernandez Gallardo (a former Facebook executive) who heads up White Star’s London operations.

Adds Martineau-Fortin: “Our growing team has extensive operational experience and we are passionate about supporting ambitious entrepreneurs with truly global ambitions. Internationalisation represents a huge opportunity for many high-growth companies and our global reach means we can support companies looking to scale outside of their home market. We become active partners to all the entrepreneurs we work with and the new fund will enable us to help even more companies realise their potential”.

Dot lets you invest in property without the hassle of a traditional mortgage

Dot, a new U.K. startup de-cloaking today, aims to make it easy to invest in property without the hassle of taking out a traditional ‘buy to let’ mortgage. The company is founded by Gray Stern, who previously co-founded London-based Buy to Let mortgage lender Landbay, and so knows at least a thing or two about investing in property. Namely, that it doesn’t need to be as arduous as it currently is.

In fact, Dot’s headline draw is that it makes property ownership a one-click affair via the “Dot Button” it wants to embed on property listings sites, including estate agents and property developers. Under the hood of the offering is what the startup describes as a “point-of-sale finance and management solution” that can be wrapped around any property that meets Dot’s lending criteria.

If you want to purchase the property as an investment, you simply click the button, pay the required deposit, and Dot will acquire and manage the property on your behalf, advancing 70 percent of the purchase price in the form of its pre-approved or “instant mortgage”. In addition, the property is furnished and Dot takes out buildings, contents and rent guarantee insurance. After those expenses, you receive monthly rent from the property, minus management fees and interest paid on your Dot mortgage.

Technically, once the property is purchased it is moved into a passive investment structure: an SPV known as a “Dot Container”. This structure holds the asset on your behalf (you effectively become the SPV’s beneficial owner/shareholder).

When you’re ready to sell, in theory a Dot Container can move from owner to owner without conveyancing, and can be refinanced without requiring new mortgage documents (via Dot Platform, Dot’s mortgage marketplace). Alternatively, the property can be put on the open market. Either way, as the SPV’s sole shareholder, you benefit from any increase in the valuation of the property, less the remaining balance of the mortgage.

“Dot enables anyone with a 30 percent deposit to become a professional property investor instantly, with none of the hassle of being a landlord,” explains Stern. “We do this by providing U.K. and U.S. estate agents and property developers with a pre-approved finance and management solution — a Dot Container — that can hold any suitable property. The agent can then offer Dot as a payment option (via the embedded Dot Button), turning their previously static listings into turnkey investments that anyone, anywhere can buy online on a fully financed and managed basis.

“Every Dot Container comes complete with a pre-approved mortgage, insurance, legal/conveyancing, tax compliance and reporting, lettings and management, furnishings and everything else required to turn that property into a compliant, well-managed and good-looking rental home. Dot takes care of the entire end-to-end process… and because we are lending a large portion of the total cost we have a vested interest in managing your property well”.

Stern says that Dot differs from property crowd-investing type platforms, such as Property Partner or Bricklane, which typically let you buy shares in a portion of a property or a property portfolio and aren’t coupled with a financing option.

“Dot’s solution is for sole investors or couples looking to build property portfolios that they control, we do not offer fractional ownership,” he adds. “Our clients own the asset and while they give Dot management rights, they can also remove Dot at any time, sell at any time, refinance their loans at any time. Dot’s challenge is to make our offer sufficiently compelling that they won’t want to”.

Meanwhile, Dot has raised $1.5 million in a pre-seed round from Stage Dot O, an L.A.-based venture-build firm run by Roofstock co-founder Devin Wade and ex hedge fund manager Mike Self.

This UK startup thinks it can win the self-driving car race with better machine learning

A new U.K. self-driving car startup founded by Amar Shah and Alex Kendall, two machine learning PhDs from University of Cambridge, is de-cloaking today. Wayve — backed by New York-based Compound, Europe’s Fly Ventures, and Brent Hoberman’s Firstminute Capital — is building what it describes as “end-to-end machine learning algorithms” to make autonomous vehicles a reality, an approach it claims is different to much of the conventional thinking on self-driving cars.

Specifically, as Wayve CEO Shah explained in a call last week, the young company believes that the key to making an autonomous vehicle that is truly just that (i.e. able to drive safely in any environment it is asked to), is a much greater emphasis on the self-learning capability of its software. In other words, self-driving cars is an AI problem first and foremost, and one that he and co-founder Kendall argue requires a very specific machine-learning development skill set.

“Wayve is building intelligent software to decide how to control a vehicle on all public roads,” he tells me. “Rather than hand-engineering our solution with heavily rule-based systems, we aim to build data-driven machine learning at every layer of our system, which would learn from experience and not simply be given if-else statements. Our learning-based system will be safer in unfamiliar situations than a rule-based system which would behave unpredictably in a situation it has not seen before”.

To explain his thinking in laymen’s terms, Shah points to the way a human who is relatively proficient in driving in one city can quickly adapt to the differences in a completely new city, without having to be given extra training or instruction beforehand. It may take around 30 minutes or even a few hours to become fully climatized to new driving conditions or environment, but humans don’t need very much new data to do so.

“Humans have a fascinating ability to perform complex tasks in the real world, because our brains allow us to learn quickly and transfer knowledge across our many experiences,” he says. “We want to give our vehicles better brains, not more hardware”.

To problem, thus far, the pair argue, is that companies like Google and Uber are throwing an engineering mindset at making vehicles autonomous, in the sense of designing rule-based systems that try to pre-empt and deal with every edge case, whilst in tandem adding more sensors and capturing more data. This might produce encouraging results in the specific, narrow setting it has been engineered for, but won’t have maximum payoff longer term.

“Right now, big tech companies have cars with many different sensors of a handful of different types. Their attitude is to have more and more sensors to do more and more difficult driving tasks,” says Shah. “If I ask you to do a difficult athletic obstacle course, something like Ninja warrior, having more eyes isn’t really going to help you much. What you need is better coordination – it’s the mind-muscle connection that’s the limiting factor. In driving, it’s really the way you use your sensory information that’s key (the AI-wheel connection in the car), not the number of cameras and radars and LIDARs”.

But if a more sophisticated machine-learning approach is the correct one, surely Google (which has several AI efforts under its parent company, including being the owner of DeepMind), would already be going down that avenue, too?

“The big teams are distracted by getting something working because they have stakeholders who have been investing for a decade into autonomous driving. They are getting impatient,” the Wayve co-founder pushes back. “How will Alphabet tell their shareholders ‘we’ve invested X billion USD into Waymo and its predecessor with a team of 1,000s, but we are now throwing that approach all down the drain and hiring more AI people to solve driving’. It’s a hard sell having spent billions and when they are close to a simple product. Same reason politicians make bad long-term decisions… their output is only short-term”.

“Wayve has a very differentiated technical approach versus most other autonomous vehicle startups,” echoes Fly Ventures’ Gabriel Matuschka. “It’s a 10x improvement over the rules-based approach taken from legacy robotics to hard-code the driving actions that the vehicle takes once it understands what it sees. Wayve uses end-to-end machine learning to drive cars autonomously, with little data, in novel environments. This means that their software enables a car to drive itself using only understanding of what it can see, just like humans do”.

To that end, the ten-person Wayve is said to be made up of experts in robotics, computer vision and artificial intelligence from both Cambridge and Oxford universities, who have previously worked at the likes of NASA, Google, Facebook, Skydio and Microsoft. Their work ranges from using deep learning for visual scene understanding to autonomous decision-making in uncertain environments. Noteworthy also is that Professor Zoubin Ghahramani, Chief Scientist of Uber, is an investor in Wayve.

“There are very few teams out there with the academic background and technical capabilities to at all have a credible shot at this. Wayve is one of them,” adds Matuschka. “Some people in the industry question if Wayve’s novel approach will work. You only stand a chance to compete against Google, Uber, et al. if you try, and are able to do something that the large players haven’t done so far or don’t believe in yet. Then you can have a head start”.

Whisk, the smart food platform that makes recipes shoppable, acquires competitor Avocando

Whisk, the U.K. startup that has built a B2B data platform to power various food apps, including making online recipes ‘shoppable’, has acquired Avocando, a competitor based in Germany.

The exact financial terms of the deal remain undisclosed, although TechCrunch understands it was all-cash and that Whisk is acquiring the tech, customer base, integrations, and team. Related to this, Avocando’s founders are joining Whisk.

“The team is joining Whisk to help scale a joint global vision to help leading businesses create integrated and meaningful digital food experiences using cutting-edge technology,” says Whisk in a statement.

To that end, Whisk’s “smart food platform” enables app developers, publishers and online supermarkets/grocery stories to do a number of interesting things.

The first relates to making recipes shoppable i.e. making it incredibly easy to order the ingredients needed to cook a recipe listed online or in an app. Specifically, Whisk’s platform parses ingredients in a recipe, and matches it to products at local grocery stores based on user preferences (e.g. “50g of butter, cubed” matched to “250g Tesco Salted Butter”). It then interfaces with the store to fill the users basket with the needed items.

The second is recipe personalisation. Based on user preferences (e.g. disliked ingredients, diet, previous behaviour, deals at a favourite store, and trending recipes based on location), Whisk is able to create personalised recipe feeds, search results, and meal plans.

The third aspect is an Internet-of-Things play. This is seeing Whisk’s data power experiences that connect IoT devices with different parts of a user’s journey. Think: smart fridges connected to recipes.

“As the e-commerce grocery market quickly accelerates across Europe, players are increasingly looking for ways to connect recipe content to grocery retailers and provide consumers with personalized nutrition, planning and purchase options right from the comfort of their kitchen,” says the startup.

Whisk says its platform powers experiences for over 100,000,000 monthly users through the applications of its clients. They include retailers like Walmart, Amazon, Instacart, and Tesco who use Whisk to enable online grocery shopping via recipes. On the IoT front, Samsung is using Whisk to build smart food applications that take user preferences, what’s in their fridge, what offers are in the supermarket, and recommends recipes. Other customers include publishers, such as the BBC, and food brands like McCormick, Nestle, Unilever, and General Mills.

Meanwhile, Whisk says it is currently focused on the U.S., U.K. and Australia, and with today’s acquisition will expand services across Europe. “Together, Germany, France and Spain represent a larger e-commerce grocery market than both the U.S. and U.K. individually, with the largest online recipe usage per capita figures in the world,” adds the company.

AnyDesk scores €6.5M for its remote desktop software

AnyDesk, a startup that offers remote desktop software powered by a bespoke video codec, has scored €6.5 million in Series A funding. Leading the round is EQT Ventures, with participation from angel investors, including Chris Hitchen, and previous backer Andreas Burike.

The Stuttgart, Germany-based company says it will use the injection of cash for further development of the AnyDesk product and to grow the technical and commercial teams.

“AnyDesk’s mission can be summarised as overcoming distances,” co-founder and CEO Philipp Weiser tells TechCrunch. “Today, people need to work with their teams and content just as quickly and effectively when working remotely as they do when in the office. Legacy remote desktop offerings do not enable this — they are complicated, frustrating and slow. At best, you can do a presentation or help a colleague install a printer. Some ideas are born out of frustration and we decided to re-engineer the remote desktop for today’s workplace”.

To that end, as well as modern-day apps for Windows, MacOS, various flavours of Linux/Unix, Android and iOS, the AnyDesk team has created a proprietary video codec called “DeskRT” that has been engineered especially for graphical user interfaces. It transmits 60 frames per seconds and prioritises low latency.

As a result, the startup says users generally experience high quality video and sound, and image transmission that is fast and fluid enough to forget that you are using a different computer. That’s because, unlike traditional screen sharing, AnyDesk is built for collaboration.

“We created AnyDesk so that anyone, anywhere can get their work done,” says Weiser. “More than 50 million users worldwide have downloaded AnyDesk. We have more than 7,000 business customers, including Spidercam, Amedes and Sun Chemical”.

There is a free version of AnyDesk for personal use, and various professional tiers, all the way up to large enterprise use.

Meanwhile, the AnyDesk co-founder concedes that there a number of other players in the rather crowded remote desktop software space. They include LogMeIn, TeamViewer, Splashtop, and Citrix GoTo. However, he claims AnyDesk is better than current offerings as the startup has approached the remote desktop from a “software-design focused angle” and created an architecture and a custom video codec specifically for the purpose of low latency transmission.

“Some competing products use expensive hardware for this, but this is not the case with AnyDesk. We’ve achieved superior performance in a software-only solution. This means AnyDesk provides people with the experience they’ve come to expect when consuming content. When you view a website or video on your devices, chances are you don’t think about the web browser or media player working in the background. You are focused on the content. AnyDesk works in the same way, running behind-the-scenes so you can be productive, creative and get on with your work”.

As an aside, EQT Ventures is talking up the way it discovered AnyDesk, namely via the VC firm’s “Motherbrain” AI platform. The software claims to scan the tech startup ecosystem online for specific signals related to a company’s performance. Based on these digital footprints, it then flags the most promising companies and surfaces the relevant structured and unstructured data to the EQT Ventures team.

Of course, this sort of approach isn’t unique to EQT — most VC firms of a certain size use data tracking as part of their deal discovery and evaluation, and newer VCs such as InReach Ventures and Fly Ventures make a virtue of this — but it is perhaps noteworthy nonetheless.

Online mortgage broker Trussle raises £13.6M Series B

Trussle, the U.K. online mortgage broker that competes most directly with Atomico-backed Habito, has closed £13.6 million in Series B funding.

Notably, the round is led by Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investments — a division of Goldman Sachs — and Propel Venture Partners, a fund backed by European banking giant BBVA.

In addition, a number of other investors also participated including Finch Capital, which led Trussle’s Series A fund raise, and Seedcamp, which has backed the fintech startup from the get-go.

Launched in 2016, Trussle moves the entire mortgage process online, bringing with it much-needed transparency. One aspect to this — powered by the data it amassing and machine learning — is making it infinitely easier to ‘switch’ mortgage when a better deal or lower interest rate becomes available. The same technology-driven approach is used for those looking to find and apply for a new or first time mortgage.

In a brief call this morning, Trussle co-founder and CEO Ishaan Malhi told me that the new capital will be used to further scale up the company, noting that the Trussle team has grown from 14 to 70 people since its Series A in February 2017. A significant portion of these are in product development as the fintech startup moves from what Malhi describes as a transactional proposition — where customers use Trussle at the point of taking out a mortgage — to a “lifetime proposition” that supports customers when they first start thinking about owning their own home and then throughout their financed home ownership.

As an example of this, he pointed me towards Trussle’s mortgage monitoring service, which launched last year. It constantly monitors the market and alerts you when money can be saved by switching to another deal.

However, the longer term vision — and presumably part of what attracted investors — is to return more value based on the data Trussle captures. This could include telling you when it may be advantageous to overpay and giving you an easy to understand dashboard that clearly shows where you are at in the repayment process.

More broadly, Trussle wants to play a major role and making home ownership a reality for many for whom is it increasingly prohibitive (think: Generation Rent). To do this, he doesn’t rule out partnerships with other fintech startups aligned to that same mission.

Adds Malhi in a statement: “The backing from two prolific and globally renowned fintech investors recognises the brilliant progress we’ve made, but also the scale of our ambition. The funding will enable us to invest significantly in building our brand and our product, but fundamentally will accelerate us towards our vision of digitising the end-to-end journey to make home ownership more affordable and accessible to all”.

Daniel Jones is said to have left Global Founders Capital to ‘raise his own fund’

Global Founders Capital, the venture capital arm of Rocket Internet, has seen a number of its London investment team leave over the last couple of years, but the most significant departure may have only just happened.

According to multiple sources, Daniel Jones, General Partner at GFC, has left the VC firm and is thought to be planning to raise his own fund. A spokesperson for GFC declined to comment on the record when asked to confirm he is no longer at GFC. Jones couldn’t be reached for comment at the time of publication.

Rumours of Jones’ departure began circulating in late March, and sometime in April portfolio companies were informed by GFC about changes in the U.K. team and specifically that he was leaving. Separately I understand from several sources that the reason being given by GFC is that Jones has decided to take up the challenge of raising a fund of his own.

Perhaps a sign of how depleted the GFC London team is right now — in the last two years, the firm has lost associate Julien Bek to Accel, associate Julia Morrongiello to Point Nine Capital, and principle Nicholas Stocks to White Star Capital — a number of portfolio companies are being told that Rocket Internet co-founder and CEO Oli Samwer is to be their main contact for now going forward. He’s primarily being supported by GFC Partner Levin Bunz, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Meanwhile, Jones’ exit from GFC is bound to be a loss to the U.K. tech startup scene, even if he does go on to eventually raise his own fund. He was and remains a popular figure amongst GFC portfolio companies and as a General Partner was always somebody thought to have the ear of Samwer, and therefore an influential figure at GFC and Rocket Internet.

As one source with knowledge of how GFC operated in the U.K. put it: “Daniel Jones was the most important non-Samwer at Global Founders. He constituted at least half of the decision-making and the majority of the legwork on every term sheet GFC issued.”

According to his LinkedIn profile, Jones’ U.K. GFC investments include Goodlord, Echo and Nested. In the last few years, the stage-agnostic VC firm has also backed U.K. startups Quiqup, OpenRent, and HomeTouch, amongst others.