Lessons learned from Silicon Valley legend at Digital Festival
A Silicon Valley legend actively looking to invest in tech start-ups in Wales has shared his practical advice with companies on the lookout for cash at Digital Festival.
Keith Teare built and sold one of the first internet services providers in Europe, EasyNet, before moving to California and founding the $1.5bn valued RealNames Corporation, whose technology was embedded into the Microsoft browser. Now Executive Chair of Accelerated Digital Venture, he said: “We’re a £200m fund and our remit is to send 80% of our funding to the regions, like Cardiff. EasyNet grew from revenue and in 15 months made enough money to list on AIM and when BSkyB bought us we were worth $1bn, but venture capitalists wouldn’t give us any money because they heard my Yorkshire accent and my partner’s Plymouth accent. Fortunately, it’s not like that now for young companies.
“We get thousands of applications every year for funding but the single biggest thing missing thing in every application is vision. What does this look like when it works? What are you aiming for? The second thing is execution. So if you can combine thinking big-vision with acting small-execution that persuades an investor that you can do this. And three – don’t get ahead of yourself, don’t think you’ve succeeded before you have.”
Now in its sixth year, Digital Festival – organised by Innovation Point in partnership with Welsh Government and headline sponsored by GoCompare – saw 2,500 delegates across two days hear tech leaders from across the globe tackle tomorrow’s big issues taking in mega-trends like 5G, AI, VR, IoT, GDPR, blockchain and big data, looking at how they affect day-to-day lives as we live, work and play.
Teare followed David Rowan, WIRED UK founding editor, on the main stage. Rowan stopped in Cardiff on a global quest for models of innovation and told the audience: “things will never move this slowly again”. He shared the six things he’s discovered that resonate with all successful innovators as empowering talent, building an ecosystem, importing a mind-set, enabling collisions, leveraging emerging tech and reframing your value. Rowan said of the latter: “You thought you were a particular kind of business but if you break off a little bit and grow that, that could be where your future is at. Qantas made a record loss – $5bn – a few years ago. They had one good part, the loyalty programme where they have half of the population of Australia in it. So they now build businesses on top of this, coming up with new products and prototypes. They’ve come up with a health insurance business, a golf club, a food delivery business and more. It now accounts for 30% of the profits and by 2022 it’ll be bigger than the rest of the business.”
The second day of the festival saw an informative selection of interactive workshops, panels and keynotes for delegates to learn from and find their future in tomorrow’s digital world. Paul King, Chief Security Officer, Cisco UK & Ireland, addressed the latest security threats and further events discussed recruitment in the digital age; the role of semi-conductors in the digital economy; connected healthcare; smart manufacturing; legaltech and regtech; 5G; chatbots; the future of agriculture; gaming and structuring teams in the digital age.
CEO oforganisersInnovation Point, David Warrender, said:“Now in its sixth year, the Digital Festival has grown delegate numbers to well over 2,000 people with visitors from as far afield as the USA, Japan, China and Ghana. We also present over 100 speakers from around the world. Testament to this growth is our inclusion for the second year running in TechRadar’s ‘Top Tech Conferences: The Ultimate B2B tech events and show guide for 2018.’
“As well as Digital Festival, Innovation Point continues with its core work of helping tech companies to find growth funding in areas such as 5G, Cyber, and supports tech innovators and entrepreneurs within the Welsh digital economy with projects like the IoTA (an equity backed Internet of Things Accelerator) based at Barclays Eagle Labs, regular monthly Digital Tuesday meet-up events, and investor pitch opportunity events for our tech scale-up businesses to the London Stock Exchange and Digital Catapult.
“The tech market is competitive and global but Digital Festival continues to open up great opportunity for this region. That’s a good story for us all.”
The first ever Top Women inWelsh Technology – an awards ceremony crowning the women driving the digital industry in Wales – was announced at the festival. Following a public nomination process, judges chose from hundreds of women across sectors in Wales including females who’ve founded companies working worldwide, saving lives, creating careers, innovating and boosting the economy.
The Top Women in Welsh Technology are:
- Dr Elin Haf Davies, co-founder, aparito
- Aimee Bateman, CEO and founder, Careercake.com
- Gemma Hallet, Founder, miFuture
- Rachel Clacher, co-founder, Moneypenny
- Victoria Norman, CEO and Founder, Signum Health
- Dr Debbie Garside, CEO GeoLang creator of the Ascema Platform for Data Loss Prevention
- Sarah Edwards, Managing Director, Capital Networks Solutions Limited
- Lisa Matthews-Jones, Portfolio Manager, Arts Council of Wales
- Hannah Dee, senior lecturer, Computer Science, Aberystwyth University
- Kirsty Williams, co-founder, DashHound.
Headline sponsors GoCompare presented on its new GoFurther Academy and how it wants to bring new recruitment and skills opportunities. Lee Griffin, founder and president of GoCompare said: “Digital Festival gave us a great opportunity to engage with the thriving tech community in south Wales and take part in valuable conversations around key industry areas such as machine learning, and recognising and supporting women in tech and skills development in the industry.
“We also couldn’t be happier to have launched our new skills initiative, the GoFurther Academy, and believe our significant investment will have long-term benefits for talent development, the economy and the growing tech community in south Wales.
“Over the following months our hope is to expand our partnerships with colleges, schools and universities in south Wales, many of which we were able spend time with at Digital Festival, to give opportunities to local talent, while continuing to invest in the great team we already have at GoCompare.”
Economy Secretary Ken Skates said: “I am pleased to attend the sixth Digital Wales Festival which provides us with an excellent opportunity to consider the many economic and societal possibilities technology provides. There is no doubt that our future prosperity will be defined by how we take advantage of the opportunities presented by digital technologies. This is something that is right of the heart of my Economic Action Plan, and from now any businesses seeking Welsh Government support will need to consider and demonstrate how they can future proof themselves.”
Highlights from the rest of the festival can be found here.
UK might need negative rates if recovery disappoints – BoE’s Vlieghe
By David Milliken and William Schomberg
LONDON (Reuters) – The Bank of England might need to cut interest rates below zero later this year or in 2022 if a recovery in the economy disappoints, especially if there is persistent unemployment, policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe said on Friday.
Vlieghe said he thought the likeliest scenario was that the economy would recover strongly as forecast by the central bank earlier this month, meaning a further loosening of monetary policy would not be needed.
Data published on Friday suggested the economy had stabilised after a new COVID-19 lockdown hit retailers last month, while businesses and consumers are hopeful a fast vaccination campaign will spur a recovery.
Vlieghe said in a speech published by the BoE that there was a risk of lasting job market weakness hurting wages and prices.
“In such a scenario, I judge more monetary stimulus would be appropriate, and I would favour a negative Bank Rate as the tool to implement the stimulus,” he said.
“The time to implement it would be whenever the data, or the balance of risks around it, suggest that the recovery is falling short of fully eliminating economic slack, which might be later this year or into next year,” he added.
Vlieghe’s comments are similar to those of fellow policymaker Michael Saunders, who said on Thursday negative rates could be the BoE’s best tool in future.
Earlier this month the BoE gave British financial institutions six months to get ready for the possible introduction of negative interest rates, though it stressed that no decision had been taken on whether to implement them.
Investors saw the move as reducing the likelihood of the BoE following other central banks and adopting negative rates.
Some senior BoE policymakers, such as Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden, believe that adding to the central bank’s 875 billion pounds ($1.22 trillion) of government bond purchases remains the best way of boosting the economy if needed.
Vlieghe underscored the scale of the hit to Britain’s economy and said it was clear the country was not experiencing a V-shaped recovery, adding it was more like “something between a swoosh-shaped recovery and a W-shaped recovery.”
“I want to emphasise how far we still have to travel in this recovery,” he said, adding that it was “highly uncertain” how much of the pent-up savings amassed by households during the lockdowns would be spent.
By contrast, last week the BoE’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, likened the economy to a “coiled spring.”
Vlieghe also warned against raising interest rates if the economy appeared to be outperforming expectations.
“It is perfectly possible that we have a short period of pent up demand, after which demand eases back again,” he said.
Higher interest rates were unlikely to be appropriate until 2023 or 2024, he said.
($1 = 0.7146 pounds)
(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by William Schomberg)
UK economy shows signs of stabilisation after new lockdown hit
By William Schomberg and David Milliken
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s economy has stabilised after a new COVID-19 lockdown last month hit retailers, and business and consumers are hopeful the vaccination campaign will spur a recovery, data showed on Friday.
The IHS Markit/CIPS flash composite Purchasing Managers’ Index, a survey of businesses, suggested the economy was barely shrinking in the first half of February as companies adjusted to the latest restrictions.
A separate survey of households showed consumers at their most confident since the pandemic began.
Britain’s economy had its biggest slump in 300 years in 2020, when it contracted by 10%, and will shrink by 4% in the first three months of 2021, the Bank of England predicts.
The central bank expects a strong subsequent recovery because of the COVID-19 vaccination programme – though policymaker Gertjan Vlieghe said in a speech on Friday that the BoE could need to cut interest rates below zero later this year if unemployment stayed high.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due on Monday to announce the next steps in England’s lockdown but has said any easing of restrictions will be gradual.
Official data for January underscored the impact of the latest lockdown on retailers.
Retail sales volumes slumped by 8.2% from December, a much bigger fall than the 2.5% decrease forecast in a Reuters poll of economists, and the second largest on record.
“The only good thing about the current lockdown is that it’s no way near as bad for the economy as the first one,” Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
The smaller fall in retail sales than last April’s 18% plunge reflected growth in online shopping.
BORROWING SURGE SLOWED IN JANUARY
There was some better news for finance minister Rishi Sunak as he prepares to announce Britain’s next annual budget on March 3.
Though public sector borrowing of 8.8 billion pounds ($12.3 billion) was the first January deficit in a decade, it was much less than the 24.5 billion pounds forecast in a Reuters poll.
That took borrowing since the start of the financial year in April to 270.6 billion pounds, reflecting a surge in spending and tax cuts ordered by Sunak.
The figure does not count losses on government-backed loans which could add 30 billion pounds to the shortfall this year, but the deficit is likely to be smaller than official forecasts, the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank said.
Sunak is expected to extend a costly wage subsidy programme, at least for the hardest-hit sectors, but he said the time for a reckoning would come.
“It’s right that once our economy begins to recover, we should look to return the public finances to a more sustainable footing and I’ll always be honest with the British people about how we will do this,” he said.
Some economists expect higher taxes sooner rather than later.
“Big tax rises eventually will have to be announced, with 2022 likely to be the worst year, so that they will be far from voters’ minds by the time of the next general election in May 2024,” Samuel Tombs, at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said.
Public debt rose to 2.115 trillion pounds, or 97.9% of gross domestic product – a percentage not seen since the early 1960s.
The PMI survey and a separate measure of manufacturing from the Confederation of British Industry, showing factory orders suffering the smallest hit in a year, gave Sunak some cause for optimism.
IHS Markit’s chief business economist, Chris Williamson, said the improvement in business expectations suggested the economy was “poised for recovery.”
However the PMI survey showed factory output in February grew at its slowest rate in nine months. Many firms reported extra costs and disruption to supply chains from new post-Brexit barriers to trade with the European Union since Jan. 1.
Vlieghe warned against over-interpreting any early signs of growth. “It is perfectly possible that we have a short period of pent up demand, after which demand eases back again,” he said.
“We are experiencing something between a swoosh-shaped recovery and a W-shaped recovery. We are clearly not experiencing a V-shaped recovery.”
($1 = 0.7160 pounds)
(Editing by Angus MacSwan and Timothy Heritage)
Oil extends losses as Texas prepares to ramp up output
By Devika Krishna Kumar
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Oil prices fell for a second day on Friday, retreating further from recent highs as Texas energy companies began preparations to restart oil and gas fields shuttered by freezing weather.
Brent crude futures were down 33 cents, or 0.5%, at $63.60 a barrel by 11:06 a.m. (1606 GMT) U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 60 cents, or 1%, to $59.92.
This week, both benchmarks had climbed to the highest in more than a year.
“Price pullback thus far appears corrective and is slight within the context of this month’s major upside price acceleration,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates.
Unusually cold weather in Texas and the Plains states curtailed up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude production and 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas, analysts estimated.
Texas refiners halted about a fifth of the nation’s oil processing amid power outages and severe cold.
Companies were expected to prepare for production restarts on Friday as electric power and water services slowly resume, sources said.
“While much of the selling relates to a gradual resumption of power in the Gulf coast region ahead of a significant temperature warmup, the magnitude of this week’s loss of supply may require further discounting given much uncertainty regarding the extent and possible duration of lost output,” Ritterbusch said.
Oil fell despite a surprise drop in U.S. crude stockpiles in the week to Feb. 12, before the big freeze. Inventories fell by 7.3 million barrels to 461.8 million barrels, their lowest since March, the Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday. [EIA/S]
The United States on Thursday said it was ready to talk to Iran about returning to a 2015 agreement that aimed to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Still, analysts did not expect near-term reversal of sanctions on Iran that were imposed by the previous U.S. administration.
“This breakthrough increases the probability that we may see Iran returning to the oil market soon, although there is much to be discussed and a new deal will not be a carbon-copy of the 2015 nuclear deal,” said StoneX analyst Kevin Solomon.
(Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar in London and Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Jason Neely, David Goodman and David Gregorio)
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