Brex - The first corporate card for startups

Pedro Franceschi (left) and Henrique Dubugras are the cofounders of Brex. 

Pedro Franceschi (left) and Henrique Dubugras are the cofounders of Brex. 

Brex is the new San Fransisco based startup providing corporate credit cards to startups. The startup has raised a total of $57 million in funding from Peter Thiel, Y Combinator and early Facebook investor Yuri Milner. 



Apple will contribute over $350 billion into US economy over the next five years

Earlier this year Apple announced that it will be contributing $350 billion into the US economy over the next five years. 

The investments will concentrate on three areas: direct employment by Apple, spending and investment with Apple’s domestic suppliers and manufacturers, and the digital App Store economy.

Ony $75 billion of that total number will come from capital expenditures, new investments in manufacturing, and its repatriation tax payment. The rest of the number is due to normal growth and spending.

Apple CEO Tim Cook commented in the announcement that “We believe deeply in the power of American ingenuity, and we are focusing our investments in areas where we can have a direct impact on job creation and job preparedness. We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible.”

Bill Gates has invested millions into these five Silicon Valley startups

Bill Gates is most famous for founding Microsoft; the world's largest software business with partner Paul Allen, but did you know the names of all the other companies he invests into behind the scenes. See our list of the top five below. 



A startup founded in 2016, aiming to detect cancer when it's still curable. The company believes a special type of blood screen could be the cure. Other investors include Jeff Bezoz and Google ventures. They have gathered $1.2 billion in investments to date.


A startup founded in 2010, develops highly-efficient power generators for companies, buildings and microgrids. Their engines use 25% less fuel than traditional powered generators. The company has raised $133 million to date.

A company with over 150 million users in 196 countries publishes online petitions. The company has raised $83 million to date.


A startup founded in 2002 creates products that help electric grid systems work efficiently. Varentec  claims that its devices can help utility operators reduce wasted voltage, manage peak power demands, and avoid overloading circuits. Gates has invested on multiple rounds and now the company has gathered a total of $41.9 million in venture capital.

Impossible Foods

A startup founded in 2011 which produces plant-based "meat." that aims to taste like the real thing. The similar meat flavour comes from an ingredient called heme. The ingredient also allows the meat to bleed like a regular beef burger. The burgers are now available at over 1,400 restaurants across New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. Impossible Foods has raised an estimated $387.5 million to date, with Bill Gates participating in three funding rounds that totalled $208 million from 2013 to 2017. 

If that wasn’t enough Gates has also invested in Memphis Meats, another meat-based company, growing "chicken," "duck," and "beef" from animal cells in a lab. To date the company has made lab-grown chicken strips, lab-grown meatballs, and lab-grown duck. The team expects to start offering its products to the public in 2021. In 2017, Gates was involved in a $17 million Series A funding round. He also invested in a third meat based start up called Beyond Meat in LA, in 2015. The Series E funding round totalled to $17 million.

Apple Ordered to Pay 11bn After Tax Investigation

Photo Credit:  Sabin Paul Croce

Photo Credit: Sabin Paul Croce

The EU has ruled that Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland were illegal and the tech giant has been ordered to pay €13bn in unpaid taxes to the Irish government. A tax agreement between Apple and Ireland, that allowed the company to pay as low as 0.005% on its European profit was anti-competitive. The firm has been under investigation for 2 years, following efforts to clamp down on tax avoidance by large corporations. Europe’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “this decision sends a clear message. Member states cannot give unfair tax benefits to selected companies, European or foreign, large or small.” Apple has made £36.5bn in profits last year, so the order represents just over 100 days of its profits.


UK Tourism Rises as Pound Drops After Brexit

Photo Credit:  KateMonkey

Photo Credit: KateMonkey

Up to 70% of Britons are choosing to ‘staycation’ in the wake of brexit, according toa report by Barclays. The figures also reveal that people are spending more on holidays-at-home than in previous years, with the average increasing to £613 in 2016, compared to £575 last year. The government has published a tourism action plan, that will see measures being taken to capitalise on the increase and further promote the UK as a holiday destination. Prime Minister, Theresa May, commented "We are making it easier for visitors to travel beyond London and experience all of the world-class attractions the UK has to offer, to make sure the benefits of this thriving industry are felt by the many and not the few.”


Octopus Investments launches Fintech Initiative for Startups

Photo Credit:  Davide D'Amico

Photo Credit: Davide D'Amico

The UK based fund management firm is looking to recruit start-ups for its new accelerator programme, with a promise to invest in those that prove successful. 

In an attempt to ‘rebuild the financial services sector’ the 12 week programme will provide mentoring and facilities as well as potential access to Octopus Investments’ distribution channels. The first product to emerge from the programme is a P2P lending platform called ‘Octopus Choice’. Richard Wazacz, head of Octopus Labs, says: “Octopus Labs takes the existing strengths of our business and adds a start-up dimension. The result is a powerful new force that will quickly develop new products and services to form part of the Octopus stable.”



Cookies P2P payments launches in Germany

Photo Credit:  Warren R.M. Stuart

Photo Credit: Warren R.M. Stuart

Cookies, a Berlin-based start-up, has released a beta version of its mobile payments app to selected users. The app allows users to send and request payments using only a contact email or mobile number. Security is maintained by requiring a PIN or fingerprint for each transaction. Founded by Lamine Cheloufi and Garry Krugljakow—both former employees of digital banking firm N26—Cookies’ USP is its communication feature, which allows users to chat via an instant messenger service associated with each transaction. The firm claims that the app is compatible with all German banks, but It is unclear if or when they plan to launch it worldwide.



UK Government Plans Crackdown on Rogue Financial Advisors

Photo Credit:  J D Mack

Photo Credit: J D Mack

Financial advisors who promote aggressive tax avoidance schemes could face heavy fines, under new rules proposed by the UK Treasury. Currently, firms convicted of tax avoidance face severe penalties, but those who devise the schemes bear little risk. A new consultation document outlines plans for accountants, lawyers and consultants associated with tax avoidance to face fines equating up to 100% of any lost revenue. The new proposals follow PM Theresa May’s pledge to curb tax avoidance by large corporations.

People who peddle tax avoidance schemes deny the country of vital tax revenue and this government is determined to make sure they pay. The vast majority of their schemes don’t work and can land their users in court facing large tax bills and other costs.
— Jane Ellison, Financial Secretary

VC for European startups has fallen

Research firm, Pitchbook has released figures that reveal venture capital funding for European technology startups has fallen by £1.1 billion. In the second quarter of 2015, total funding stood at £3.2 billion, in comparison the quarter that ended last week, where total funding equalled £2.1 billion. Although experts believe that the UK’s decision to leave the EU has had an impact, it is believed that VC’s are being more mindful and particular in 2016 of where they invest their money. Christian Miele, vice president of venture capital firm, said to Business Insider UK: "Clearly VCs (in the last quarter) were keen to only back the startups they perceived as being the most robust and filled with the most potential, an about-turn from the free-flowing investment seen in 2015."


Richard Branson’s pitch competition crowns winners

Photo Credit:  Jarle Naustvik

Photo Credit: Jarle Naustvik

The winners of the Virgin Media Business VOOM 2016 Awards have been announced and include Scottish-based, recycled road asphalt manufacturer, MacRebur, and London-based, bio-bean which recycles wasted coffee grounds and turns them into sustainable bio-fuels. Hosted at ITV Studios by Konnie Huq, six finalists pitched their ideas to an impressive panel of judges, including Richard Branson, Tyra Banks, SPANX founder Sara Blakely, vlogger Marcus Butler, and Virgin Media Business’ Peter Kelly. Each startup has won a £250,000 ad campaign and £50,000 in cash.


Volkswagen emission settlements tally over $15bn

Photo Credit:  Ulrika

Photo Credit: Ulrika

While official numbers will be announced today in Washington, Volkswagen are looking at a bill of over $15 billion cash in order to settle the diesel emissions scandal that they admitted to in September 2015. The largest ever automotive buyback in U.S. history and the most expensive automotive-industry scandal, Volkswagen admitted to intentionally misleading environmental regulators by installing secret software that allowed U.S. vehicles to emit up to 40 times legally allowed pollution, accounting for approximately 475,000 cars. The Guardian reported that current owners of 2.0 litre diesel VW 2009-2015 cars will receive an average of $5,000 in compensation, as well as the estimated value of the vehicle as of September 2015. Prior owners will receive half of this and individuals who leased cars will also get compensation. These settlements, along with approximately $5 billion extra to offset excess diesel emissions and boost zero emissions vehicles, plus a $500 million settlement with U.S. state attorney generals, will equate to more than $15 billion. German prosecutors are currently investigating former Volkswagen CEO, Martin Winterkorn and another unidentified executive as to whether they intentionally manipulated markets by delaying admission to the scandal. 


Money management startup, Loot secures £1.5m

Oliver Purdue, founder of Loot, received £1.5 million in funding by Austrian early-stage fund, Speedinvest and Global Founders Capital. Founded in 2014 by University of the West of England graduate, the money management startup for university students takes control of their finances by combining traditional bank account features with add ons to help users stick to a budget. Loot hopes to generate revenue through international transfers and targeted promotions. A feature that will soon be available on the money management app will allow students to compare their spending habits to that of their peers and offer students tailored saving plans. Loot is currently available to students at seven UK universities, and Purdue intends to use the funding to support marketing and recruitment as it looks to expand.


Brexit business summary

The stock market and the pound have managed to regain some ground with the FTSE 100 index now at a loss of only 1.9pc and FTSE 250 up by 7.3pc. The pound is now at $1.37899 after falling to $1.3236. Financial institutions and homebuilders have been hit hardest with companies such as Barclays, Lloyds Bank and Bovis Homes experiencing losses of around 20%. Global companies still remain concerned about potential need for job cuts and loss of profits in the region. Simon Walker, director-general of the Institute of Directors said earlier, “… top priority is placed on negotiating a new arrangement that gives UK companies access to the single market, and the much-needed skills of EU workers.”


Tencent Acquires Supercell For $8.6 Billion

China’s biggest gaming group Tencent Holdings Ltd. has announced it is buying an 84% majority stake in the Finnish company Supercell, in a deal worth approximately $8.6 billion, the largest gaming acquisition in history. Supercell is the maker of the popular ‘Clash of Clans’ mobile game, and Tencent’s acquisition includes the entire 72.2% stake of Supercell’s current majority owner, Japanese telecommunications firm SoftBank Group Corp. Tencent said it will buy the majority stake in three stages through a wholly-owned consortium, and the deal is expected to be completed during the third quarter this year, given that it receives regulatory approval.


Smith & Wesson Reports 31% Jump In Sales

American defence products manufacturer Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. has announced its financial results for fiscal year 2016. Net revenues increased 31% to $723 million, compared to FY 2015, and net income jumped nearly 89% to $94 million. Similarly, basic EPS rose from 0.92 to 1.72. CEO James Debney said the full-year performance reflects the successful execution of the firm’s long-term strategy. For example, several new products were launched within Smith & Wesson’s firearms division, and its accessories business segment delivered double-digit revenue growth. CFO Jeff Buchanan said the company will focus on strengthening its balance sheet in FY 2017 in order to facilitate business growth.


German 10-Year Bond Yield Turns Negative

The 10-year German government bond yield has entered into negative territory, for the first time ever. The long-term benchmark bond recorded a yield of minus 0.01% on Tuesday, as more investors are investing in safe-haven assets out of concern the UK might vote to leave the EU in the referendum on 23 June. During turbulent times, German bonds are usually considered a safe investment, due to very low risk of default. However, other forces than the British referendum are also behind the negative bond yields; low inflation, low economic growth and low interest rates have for many years contributed to declining German bond yields.