Early backers of Britain’s Freetrade become millionaires – live updates

Early crowdfunding backers of Freetrade, a British stock trading app, have seen the value of their investments in the company rise to be worth millions of pounds.

At least six people who participated in the company’s 2016 crowdfunding campaign to raise £100,000 now have stakes worth at least £1m, Sifted reports.

Rising demand for services like Freetrade, driven in part due to the frenzy over Gamestop shares, has seen the London start-up’s valuation rise to more than £265m.

Elsewhere, Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank has invested $2.8bn (£2bn) into Norwegian robotics start-up AutoStore in return for 40pc of the company.

Coming up later today, Intel will hold a press event this afternoon where it’s expected to unveil new chips under the leadership of new chief executive Pat Gelsinger.

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9:54AM

ICYMI The inner workings of Big Tech cartels

Incendiary accusations of collusion between Silicon Valley giants have been at heart of US business culture. Andrew Orlowski takes a look at whether Big Tech firms have become free market champions or a cosy cartel. Read his feature here

The most damaging of the accusations to land on the tech giants is incendiary. It’s the accusation that they do rather more than peacefully co-exist – that today, they step aside to assure each other’s interests. They have been caught once before, being fined $325m in 2011 for conducting a wage-fixing cartel that kept Valley engineers’ salaries low. But these new allegations involve entire markets.

9:04AM

Freetrade crowdfunding backers become millionaires

At least six early backers of British stock trading app Freetrade have seen their stakes in the company rise to be worth at least £1m after its valuation rose to more than £265m.

The London financial technology business launched a £100,000 crowdfunding campaign in 2016 months after it was founded.

Investors who backed the business with at least £18,000 at the time are now sitting on stakes worth more than £1m, Sifted reports.

One early crowdfunding investor in Freetrade who continued to put more money into the business as it grew now has a stake worth £8.4m.

Freetrade has been one of the main British beneficiaries of the recent surge in demand from retail investors who pushed the share prices of Gamestop and other “meme stocks” up earlier this year.

Adam Dodds’, Freetrade’s chief executive, told The Telegraph in January that the business saw the number of new customers multiply 10 times in a single day.

However, retail investors eager to purchase Gamestop shares later turned their back on Freetrade after the business was forced by its currency exchange provider Barclays to block purchases of US shares at the end of January.

“We received no warning of what we consider an extremely poor decision,” Mr Dodds said at the time.

Many fledgling start-ups including Freetrade turn to crowdfunding services as a way to top up institutional funding rounds. Other financial technology businesses including Monzo and Revolut have carried out similar campaigns.

However, the risky nature of start-ups means that crowdfunding backers can stand to lose their entire investments.

Backers of London start-up Sugru, a moldable glue product beloved by technology investors, lost up to 90pc of their investments when the company was sold in 2018.

7:32AM

SoftBank backs Norway’s AutoStore with $2.8bn 

SoftBank recently sold a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics, another robotics business

SoftBank recently sold a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics, another robotics business

Credit:
AFP

SoftBank’s latest technology investment is in Norwegian robotics business AutoStore, which uses robots to transform warehouses into ultra-efficient storage facilities that don’t require costly humans to operate.

The Japanese technology conglomerate spent $2.8bn (£2bn) to acquire a 40pc stake in the company, which uses powered robots and a network of cubes that store items in so-called “bins” for easy retrieval.

The deal values the business at $7.7bn, it has been reported.

The start-up had been owned by private equity business Thomas H. Lee Partners while investment fund EQT also retained a stake.

SoftBank has for years been interested in robotics as a key field for its investments. In 2017, it acquired robotics business Boston Dynamics from Google’s parent company but has since sold a controlling stake in the company to Hyundai.

7:29AM

Five things to start your day  

1) GameStop plans to cash in on trading frenzy $1bn with share sale Shares initially sank after retailer revealed huge sell-off in bid to profit off Reddit traders’ interest 

2) LG to exit smartphone business after $4.5bn in losses over six years Company has struggled to compete against Samsung and Apple, as well as Chinese manufacturers

3) Google wins ten-year legal battle with Oracle in US Supreme Court Judges ruled that Google’s copying of Oracle-owned code was ‘fair use’, ending a $9bn dispute that threatened to overturn the tech industry 

4) Are tech giants market champions or a cosy cartel? Incendiary accusations of collusion between Silicon Valley giants strike at heart of US business culture 

5) Tesla caught in the crossfire of a brewing tech Cold War with China The American firm has been accused of using its cars to spy on the Asian state, a key market for it

Coming up today

Intel will hold a press event this afternoon where it’s expected to unveil new chips under the leadership of new chief executive Pat Gelsinger.

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