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The VC arm of Google’s parent company is betting its billions on life-enhancing healthcare startups (GOOG)

  • GV is the venture capital arm of Google’s parent company Alphabet, and used to be called Google Ventures.
  • The investment firm has backed over 50 healthcare and life science startups looking to reduce human suffering and help people live longer.
  • The size of GV’s cheques range from $100,000 to hundreds of millions.

Google Ventures partner Tom HulmeGoogle became one of the biggest companies in the world after it launched a search engine in 1998 that surpassed the abilities of market leaders Ask Jeeves and Yahoo.

But the $650 billion (£497 billion) business, which today sits under parent company Alphabet, is now looking to cash in on the success of companies operating far beyond the realm of software and search engines — with a particular focus on healthcare.

Through its GV venture capital arm (formerly Google Ventures prior to the restructuring of Google), Alphabet is taking an equity stake in companies looking to reduce human suffering and increase human life expectancy. 

These are firms aiming to limit aging and improve how we treat diseases by researching areas like genomics, cell therapy, and biotechnology.

Founded in 2009 by Bill Marris, who left last August, GV has backed more than 300 companies and has over $2.4 billion (£1.9 billion) at its disposal. It provides startups with funding, while also giving them engineering support, PR and marketing advice, and introductions to relevant people at Google.

GV is investing roughly a third of the capital it gets from Alphabet into healthcare and life science startups. It obviously hopes to make a financial profit on its healthcare investments, but says that it’s not the only motive. The investment partners at GV also want to ensure that the companies they’re backing are given the best opportunity possible to improve the world we live in.

Krishna Yeshwant, a doctor who leads GV’s life sciences and health team, told Business Insider: “One of the best things about investing in healthcare is that we can do well by doing good.

“Life expectancy is just one (important) measure of that. If we saw an approach we thought was exciting in human life extension we would absolutely invest. However, we invest across all aspects of life sciences and healthcare delivery, with the primary intent being to reduce human suffering.”

GV: Life science startups can become the next tech megacorporations

Several of GV’s 12 partners are hunting for potential healthcare and life science deals around the world — but the UK and Ireland are a particular hotbed of activity for the VC.

Speaking to Business Insider at The Ivy in London straight off the back of a meeting with some GV-backed founders, Tom Hulme, a partner at GV, said he’s “absolutely” confident that some of today’s healthcare startups will evolve into multibillion dollar corporations in the same way that GV portfolio company Uber has.

I would say by definition these problems [that healthcare startups are working on] are incredibly impactful to a large proportion of humanity and my belief is that will create a large economic opportunity,” said Hulme.

“That doesn’t mean overcharging or gouging the end customer. It means these problems are so ubiquitous that actually you can have very fairly priced organisations that become massive businesses.”

GV has backed over 50 healthcare companies worldwide to date, with investments ranging from $100,000 (£76,000) to tens of millions of dollars.

Hulme said he’s comfortable with GV’s team size in Europe (two partners and a small support team) even though it was reduced significantly in December 2015 when GV folded a dedicated $125 million (£96 million) European fund into a larger global pot. “The main reason I’m comfortable is we’re bolstered by an amazing team in the US,” said Hulme, who studied physics at Bristol University followed by an MBA at Harvard Business School.

GV set up its European fund in October 2014 but closed it down just over a year later, with a report in The Financial Times claiming that tension developed between GV’s European and US teams on investment strategy. GV denies the claims.

GV is capitalising on the IP coming out of Oxbridge

oxford shutterstock alexey fedorenkoOf the startups in the GV portfolio, Hulme is particularly bullish about the prospects of Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), which provides capital and scaling expertise to Oxford University businesses based on interesting intellectual property (IP).

OSI has raised £580 million, making it the largest private university fund in the UK. It’s unclear how much GV put in.

“You could think of it as a fund,” said Hulme in reference to OSI. “I tend to think of it as a really interesting company that’s transferring IP effectively. One of the interesting challenges of Oxford is if you look at their base of academic research, it is world class. And I don’t think that’s ever translated into a throughput of startups. In many ways I think Cambridge’s funnel was more efficient historically because of Cambridge Angels and CIC (Cambridge Innovation Capital).”

OSI has made over 40 investments and about half of those investments have been into life science companies. “The quality is absolutely exceptional,” Hulme claimed. “They have a relationship with the tech transfer office [at the University of Oxford] and they can get referred into any science department, be it medicine, genomics, etc.”

Hulme said he wouldn’t be surprised if OSI turns into one of the UK’s largest companies in the next 10 years, adding that he expects it to create hundreds of jobs in turn.

Another life science company in the GV stable is Dublin-based Genomics Medicine Ireland, which has raised $40 million (£31 million) from GV and others to carry out genomic research across Ireland while examining the broader relationship between genetics, health, and disease.

Genomics Medicine Ireland

There is also Cambridge Epigenetix, which is a biosciences company building easy-to-use epigenetic tools that can be used to study and modify human genes. The five-year-old company has raised $26.5 million (£20.46 million) from GV, Silicon Valley investor Sequoia Capital, and others.

“The revenues are potentially a fair way off [for Cambridge Epigenetix], but the size of the problem we’re solving makes us completely comfortable with deferring revenue,” said Hulme.

“We’ve chosen to select companies where I believe that economic return is completely aligned with human well-being. So I’m equally as excited about that as the cash return.”

There could be more UK investments on the way soon. “We’re currently looking at [another] one in London and another in Oxford,” said Hulme.

GV has a “patient capital” approach to investing

There’s no immediate pressure for the companies in GV’s portfolio to start generating profits for shareholders.

Alphabet does not specify exactly how much money GV should make on its investments, according to Hulme. “The reason for that is the timeline is unknown. What I know they do judge GV on is the historical returns or the progress today that the portfolio is making.

“And they’ve been great. Alphabet is absolutely satisfied with that, which I think is kind of reflected in the fact that (very generally) the fund has tended to increase in size over time.”

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NOW WATCH: We tried the $10-a-month movie theater service MoviePass — and it’s more trouble than we expected

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Uber is making rides more expensive so it can give UK drivers up to £5,000 if they buy greener cars

Uber clair air plan

Uber has promised to commit millions of pounds towards combating air pollution in London and the UK through a new “Clean Air Fund”, which will subsidise driver purchases of eco-friendly cars.

The San Francisco taxi-hailing company announced its “Clean Air Plan” on Friday (as rival Taxify halted its operations after running into regulatory issues) alongside a number of measures that should help to make the city’s air less toxic.

Uber said it is committing £2 million to the Clean Air Fund, which will launch next month. The fund will be used to hand drivers up to £5,000 towards the cost of upgrading their normal car to a fully electric vehicle, such as a Toyota Prius.

And the firm promised to add 35p more to the fund every time someone takes a ride through its app in London. That means, for example, £350 will be added to the fund after 3,000 rides. But there’s a catch. All Uber rides in London are going to become 35p more expensive for passengers. 

Uber said it expects drivers to claim in excess of £150 million during the fund’s life, which has no end date. A spokesperson for the company told Business Insider that Uber expects the remaining £148 million to be raised through trips but the company wouldn’t rule out topping up the fund “if necessary”.

Uber said all of its uberX vehicles in the 40 UK towns and cities it operates will be hybrid or fully electric by 2022, adding that there will be no diesel vehicles on the platform by that time. The goal is to have all uberX drivers in London using hybrid or fully electric cars by the end of 2019.

Some 50% of Uber’s London fleet are already hybrid vehicles or fully electric. But Uber has 40,000 drivers in London and many of them don’t have environmentally-friendly cars. As a result, the company contributes its fair share of emissions to the city.

Fred Jones (Head of Cities for Uber UK)In a bid to get diesel cars off the road, Uber is launching a scrappage scheme in a bid to get 1,000 of the most polluting cars off London’s roads.

Uber said the first 1,000 people in London to scrap a pre-Euro 4 diesel vehicle and provide an official scrap certificate will get up to £1,500 of Uber credit.

Fred Jones, Uber’s head of UK cities, said in a statement: “Air pollution is a growing problem and we’re determined to play our part in tackling it with this bold plan.

“Londoners already know many cars on our app are hybrids, but we want to go much further and go all electric in the capital. Our scrappage scheme will also take polluting vehicles off the road and encourage Londoners to get into a shared car to connect with public transport instead.”

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No-one is sure what the 'iPhone 8' will really be called

iPhone 8 MKBHD

For all the hype and leaks around the upcoming “iPhone 8,” there remains one area of uncertainty: Its real name.

No-one is sure what the eagerly anticipated flagship smartphone from Apple is going to be called.

We do know plenty of other key details about the device. Due to be formally unveiled on September 12, it will mark ten years since the launch of the original iPhone, and is slated to have an almost edge-to-edge OLED screen as part of a radical redesign.

The physical home button will be ditched in favour of on-screen options, while the camera is being revamped to take advantage of Apple’s new augmented reality tech. It is also believe to feature facial unlocking technology and a glass back.

But the name is still a mystery. So what are the options?

8, Edition, Pro, X?

For starters, there’s iPhone 8. This is what most pundits — myself included — are calling it by default while it’s still not officially confirmed. It differentiates the high-end device from the other two iPhones Apple is also expected to launch on September 12. These will be more incremental updates, largely keeping the design of the iPhone 7 and (presumably) selling for cheaper than the iPhone 8. (These are sometimes tentatively being referred to as the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus — but more on them shortly!)

But there are other possibilities floating round for the iPhone 8. One is the iPhone Pro, a name suggested by Apple blogger John Gruber. It’d be in keeping with how Apple names its other high-end hardware products — the MacBook Pro, the Mac Pro, the iMac Pro, and so on.

iPhone 8 'notch'Another rumour that has got a lot of traction is the iPhone Edition. At the start of September, Apple news site 9to5Mac reported that phone case makers believe it will be use the “Edition” name, and are getting ready to print merchandise based on it. It’s also a name that has been rumoured at least as far back as March 2017, and would make sense. Apple has named special edition products “Edition” before — just look at the $17,000 gold Apple Watch Edition.

A fourth option: The iPhone X. Dutch news site iCulture reports, citing an unnamed “reliable source,” that the next iPhone will use the name “X” — an apparent reference to its tenth birthday. Evan Blass, a reliable journalist who specialises in tech leaks, lent weight to this theory, writing on Twitter: “FWIW, I’ve also heard ‘iPhone X.'”

In short: While we know a lot else about the handset, the true name of the “iPhone 8” may remain a surprise until the official launch.

We might skip the -s this year

Copper Gold iPhone 8Lastly, remember the non-special “iPhone 7s and 7s Plus” I mentioned? Well, they might not actually be called that.

Typically, Apple alternates its name for the iPhone each year — one year it’s a new number, the next it’s an -s. iPhone 5s in 2013, iPhone 6 in 2014, iPhone 6s in 2015, iPhone 7 in 2016. This implies that this year the regular iPhone is due to be the iPhone 7s — but multiple reports suggest it will instead be the iPhone 8.

Both iCulture and 9to5Mac believe that they will be called the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, while the higher-end special edition device takes a different name.

Just don’t expect Apple to confirm or deny any of this, as it almost never comments on rumours. We’ll have to wait until September 12 to know the truth.

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NOW WATCH: Everything we know about the Apple iPhone 8 — which should be announced next week

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THE SELF-INSTALLED SMART HOME REPORT: Why current smart home device owners are appealing to tech companies

This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

Not that long ago, many home-appliance and consumer-electronics makers were gearing up for what they thought would soon be a rapidly growing market for smart home devices.

The instant popularity of the Nest thermostat, introduced in 2011, seemed to confirm their hopes. But those expectations were dashed in the coming years as the market for connected home devices later stagnated. 

Even with these challenges, many of the biggest consumer technology companies are now moving into the smart home market. For example, Apple, which recently released its self-installed smart home ecosystem, called the Apple Home, traditionally doesn’t move into a market until it’s very mature and only when it can release a perfected product. Further, Google this fall launched the Google Home and its companion ecosystem, hoping to jump into the voice-activated smart home speaker market, which Amazon currently dominates with its Echo product line. 

In a new report, BI Intelligence examines the demographics of the average smart home device owner and discuss why current smart home device owners are appealing to tech companies. The report also examines the plans of various tech giants in the smart home market and discuss their monetization strategies, and makes suggestions for how these companies can position themselves to make their products and devices more appealing to the mass market.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Tech companies primarily enter the market to enhance a core revenue stream or service, while device makers desire to collect data to improve their products and prevent costly recalls.
  • We forecast there will be $4.8 trillion in aggregate IoT investment between 2016 and 2021.
  • These companies are also seeking to create an early-mover advantage for themselves, where they gain an advantage by this head start on adoption.
  • Major barriers to mass market adoption that still must overcome include technological fragmentation and persistently high device prices.

In full, the report:

  • Details the market strategy of prominent tech companies and device makers, and analyzes why which ones are best poised to succeed once adoption ticks up.
  • Offers insight into current ownership through an exclusive survey from BI Intelligence and analyzes what demographics will drive adoption moving forward.
  • Explains in detail which companies are poised to succeed in the market in the coming years as adoption increases and mass market consumers begin to purchase smart home devices.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the IoT, choose one of these options:

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of smart homes.

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A company building the YouTube of virtual reality music highlights the biggest issue with VR

kiss band

LONDON — Imagine watching a rock concert from the very front of the stage, a hairs-width from the singer, in front of 10,000 screaming fans. It’s not just the best seat in the house, it’s totally impossible.

But that what MelodyVR is building — a virtual reality (VR) platform that lets you watch concerts from the “unobtainable seat in the house,” right on stage, up close and extremely personal.

In reality though, it doesn’t work like that. In the British company’s Camden, North London offices in August, I tried the tech out for myself. Faces were blurry, details indistinct, pixels noticeable. It felt like I was watching everything through a gauze screen.

None of this is MelodyVR’s fault. Instead, it’s a clear illustration of one of the key problems facing virtual reality businesses right now: VR headsets still just aren’t up to scratch.

The YouTube of music in virtual reality

MelodyVR is building what is essentially the YouTube for virtual reality music. Its library ranges from videos of gigs to intimate, original content recorded for exclusively for the platform — one demo has a female vocalist performing in the sun in Brighton, England. And then there’s interactive experiences, the VR equivalent of music videos, where the music itself can pulsate around you and react to your presence.

It went public in May 2016, listing on AIM, and has several hundred artists on the platform, including Kiss, Kaiser Chiefs, The Who, and Bloc Party. But it hasn’t actually launched its product to the public yet. Instead, it’s planning to hold off until the next wave of VR headsets releases.

It is intended to launch on all of the major VR platforms; I tried it on Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR. Some of the demos I tried were fantastic — in particular an interactive music video that let me paint luminescent vines in the air with my hands, pulsing and unwinding in time to the music. Put simply, it was captivating. But the recordings of concerts were less impressive.

Oculus RiftThe founders are candid about the limitations of current hardware, but are optimistic about the next year or so. “The hardware experience provides a good experience, but it’s not an amazing experience in terms of resolution,” I was told.

“From where we are last year … it is night and day. The experience was okay. The experience this year is good, and we think the experience next year will be amazing. And that’s really all down to mobile phone displays. Whether it’s Samsung with an S8 or a Rift, they’ll all based on the same tech.”

They added: “I think we’ve probably got another six to 12 months before we lose that screen door effect, which is for us a frustration. It’s another reason why we haven’t shipped the product yet, which is when we want music fans to have their first experience, we want it to be amazing. We think it’s pretty good, but it’s maybe … 20, 30% away from being that crystal clear resolution you get with a 4K display or higher.”

‘Consumers just don’t care for it that much’

Matt Miesnieks, a partner at Super Ventures, an augmented reality-focused investment fund, agreed that hardware still presents problems for video companies. “The other type of company that has dropped off the radar in the 12 months is anyone doing 360-degree video. Capturing video, playing it back in Gear VR, for the same reason. Consumers just don’t care for it that much, so certainly to get that next level of sort of user engagement, there needs to be a new generation of technology,” he said.

“That involves, in terms of content capturing, more of a light field. That light field would let you lean forward and backward within the video. And then there’s input, how do you control the video … And then obviously just resolution and bandwidth on devices, ergonomics, all that stuff is getting better. [But] it’s certainly not getting market traction beyond early adopters.”

In theory, though, MelodyVR is an incredibly enticing proposition. It’s the concert experience like you’ve never had it before, with impossible angles available from the comfort of your sofa. The company is a perfect example of the promise — and frustrations — of virtual reality.

Additional reporting by Shona Ghosh.

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The 'Apple of China' is revealing its new smartphone 1 day before the iPhone 8 launches (AAPL)

xioami mi mix 2

On September 12, Apple is due to formally announce the eagerly anticipated iPhone 8 — a high-end device with an almost edge-to-edge screen.

One day before, on September 11, another high-end device with an almost edge-to-edge screen will launch — from Xiaomi, a tech startup sometimes referred to as the “Apple of China.”

As previously reported by The Verge, The Chinese electronics firm is gearing up to formally reveal the Mi Mix 2. A designer has already shared a “conceptual product design” video, while a managing director has teased its design in a tweet.

Xiaomi, once the most valuable startup in the world, has previously built phones that are similar in design to Apple’s — so much so that Apple design chief Jony Ive once accused the company and others like it of “theft.” Its CEO has also adopted a Steve Jobs-esque demeanor, borrowing his outfit and signature “one more thing” line.

But in recent years, Xiaomi’s products have been more differentiated — and the firm has even poked fun at Apple in presentations, making unflattering comparisons between its products and Apple’s allegedly inferior offerings.

Tweet Embed:
https://twitter.com/mims/statuses/902789915548594180
Mi MIX 2 😎 😎 😎 #excited pic.twitter.com/W68XIqk6Gx

The iPhone 8 — alternately referred to as the iPhone Edition, iPhone X, or iPhone Pro — marks ten years since the first iPhone was unveiled. It is rumoured to feature a radical redesign with an almost bezel-free screen with no physical home button, a revamped camera, facial recognition tech for unlocking the device, and a glass back.

But its almost edge-to-edge screen, while new for Apple, isn’t the first of its kind. The original Xiaomi Mi Mix, announced in 2016, helped pioneer the design. Other major manufacturers including Samsung have also already launched flagship phones with near-edge-to-edge screens earlier in 2017.

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We tried the AI software companies like Goldman Sachs and Unilever use to analyze job applicants

We got to experience HireVue’s AI technology that allows companies to sort and grade video job applicants. Below is a transcript of the video.

Rich Feloni: I’m Rich Feloni, strategy reporter at Business Insider. I first heard about HireVue when I wrote about Unilever’s experiment in hiring. Unilever is one of many large companies that is incorporating artificial intelligence into their recruitment efforts. HireVue uses video analysis to screen employees and rate them before a recruiter even gets to look at their interviews.

Loren Larsen: I’m Loren Larsen. I’m the chief technology officer at HireVue. HireVue has a platform that simplifies the job interviewing process. The most common use of that is what we call an on-demand interview where you create a set of questions. They respond on video, and then we use artificial intelligence algorithms to evaluate their performance and then we analyze the interview and predict their performance, based on the interview.

Rich Feloni: HireVue set up an application for me where it was 11 interview questions. I used my iPhone. The entire time I felt very awkward and very self-conscious because I was looking at a video of myself.

Larsen: And then we made an analysis of the features that are important for that job and produced what we call an insight score. Which is essentially his ranking compared to all the other candidates that we’ve seen. Fortunately Rich did really well in this interview.

Feloni: Basically what this is just doing is looking for things like eye contact, enthusiasm, if this is someone who’s going to be working with clients face-to-face. Do they smile or are they down cast? Are they looking away from the camera? So some of my skepticism was averted when I actually saw how the product worked.

Larsen: The machine is going to look at 25,000 different features and complex relationships between those. It might see things that I’m not able to see the human.

Feloni: AI in recruiting at this point is still basically in its infancy. I think what HireVue is doing is interesting. They’re going into uncharted territory. It seems that a lot of large companies are happy with the results.

Larsen: Of the candidates that we screened for this, he was 2nd. He had a 65% insight score. So we actually want to make him an offer.

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'I was terrifed': Women in tech explain why they don't report sexual harassment

pao reuters

Silicon Valley firms are facing unprecedented scrutiny about the way they handle sexual harassment, after a slew of cases from woman claiming discriminiation, inappropriate behaviour, and even assault.

In 2015, there was Ellen Pao, who launched a landmark but unsuccessful suit against her former employer, investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. Earlier this year, former Uber employee Susan Fowler alleged harassment and discrimination and claimed her former manager had propositioned her. And then there were the dozen female founders and venture capital partners who came forward to allege harassment from vaunted Silicon Valley names like 500 Startups founder Dave McClure, Binary Capital cofounder Justin Caldbeck, and Lowercase Capital founder Chris Sacca.

All in all, it feels like more women are speaking out about bad treatment than ever before. But these women are outliers — because most sexual harassment goes unreported.

US nonprofit Women Who Tech has started to collect anonymous stories from women too afraid to speak out, as part of a wider survey of 950 workers in tech including both men and women. It’s early days, so only 10 women have shared their stories so far.

Here is why the women said they don’t go to their bosses:

  • By then, I had already more-or-less decided to leave the company. I feared retaliation and further ill-will from my supervisor, and publicity about my issue among my department management (supervisor’s supervisor) and was not keen to proceed knowing I might need his support (professional reference) after I left the org.
  • Because my director is so untouchable. And I was terrified I would be dismissed as overreacting, and be taken off the team. I needed work.
  • Such behavior seemed commonplace and accepted. Most male execs joked amongst each other. Once I was talking about a project with a senior exec in hallway. A new intern walked by, and he commented “I wonder what she would look like without pants on.”
  • I did not feel there was sufficient documentation. The most egregious sexual harassment occurred in my car, with only myself and the harasser present. He was highly inebriated.
  • It happens so frequently, that it felt like the norm. I guess I felt like I could handle it.

There are common themes: not feeling like they had the proof, not wanting to kick up a fuss, and fearing retaliation.

Women Who Tech’s survey found 53% of female respondents had experienced some kind of harassment at work, versus 18% of men.

Most women who were harassed said it had come from another employee or their supervisor. And 72% said they suffered sexist discrimination, 51% said they received offensive slurs, and 45% said they suffered sexual harassment.

The concerns from male employees was different: most said they suffered from offensive slurs or jokes, ageism, or comments about their professional character. Sexual and gender harassment was low on the list.

You can see the full survey here.

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2 businesses connected to former Ve Interactive boss David Brown have gone into liquidation

ve interactive ceo david joseph brown

Two businesses connected to David J. Brown, the startup founder ousted from ad tech startup Ve Interactive, have gone into liquidation with hundreds of thousands of pounds owed to staff and HMRC.

The two firms are boutique shop Clerkenwell London, and high-end furniture maker Tree Couture. Their insolvency marks the continued unravelling of Brown’s business ventures after Ve Interactive was rescued from administration by a consortium of its investors.

Despite the fact the firms were meant to be separate, Brown allegedly spent £11.5 million of Ve Interactive’s money propping up these other ventures, according to a Sunday Times report. Brown described the allegations as “cheap jibes,” and has issued a legal challenge to the article.

Brown, who is now being investigated by Ve Interactive’s new management, set up Clerkenwell London in 2013. His investment firm Thinkers HQ is the only listed shareholder. It’s also listed as a shareholder in Tree Couture, alongside designer Troo Heath-Crew. Thinkers HQ has itself has gone into liquidation, according to The Financial Times.

According to company filings, Clerkenwell London has filed for a creditors’ voluntary liquidation — essentially meaning the firm has realised it can’t pay its debts. The company owes more than £5.5 million to its creditors. Some £5 million of that is owed to Thinkers HQ, but there’s also £132,570 owed to HMRC, and more than £15,000 owed to employees for wages and holiday pay.

The company also owes £1,200 to Blippar, another UK tech startup who former employees said faces cashflow problems.Clerkenwell London liquidation

According to the filings, Clerkenwell House has around £73,000 in assets which it will initially use to pay off its former employees. That leaves administrators with around £58,000 to pay off the multi-million pound debt.

There are no filings showing Tree Couture’s creditors available yet. The administrator for both companies, Ian Yerrill of Yerrill Murphy, did not respond to a request for comment.

It isn’t clear whether Brown remains involved with either company. When Thinkers HQ was liquidated, Brown’s lawyer told The Financial Times he hadn’t been involved with the management of the company for several years. He didn’t respond to a request for comment.

It’s possible several other businesses linked to Thinkers HQ are on the brink of liquidation. Clark is also director of several other businesses connected to Thinkers: fashion company Guirado Design, and cigar website Humadore.com. Neither company’s website works, and Humadore.com has applied to be struck off the UK’s public register of companies.

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NOW WATCH: We tried the $10-a-month movie theater service MoviePass — and it’s more trouble than we expected

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10 things in tech you need to know today (FB, AAPL, SNAP, GOOG)

Elon Musk SpaceX falcon 9 reusable rocket launch landing BI Graphics 4x3

Good morning! Here is the tech news you need to know this Thursday.

1. Samsung officially announced the Galaxy Note 8, coming on September 15. The successor to the ill-fated Note 7 has design and specs similar to the Galaxy S8+, but adds a dual camera setup, the signature S-Pen, and a starting price of $930 (£750).

2. Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth is reportedly taking over all of Facebook’s hardware efforts, including the company’s famous Building 8 and Oculus. His team is already working on a video-chat device, which will be the first of a series of consumer gadgets such as a Echo-like smart speaker, 360-degree cameras, and “futuristic wearables.”

3. Apple is reportedly lagging behind its competitors in the self-driving technology race. A person who worked on the project told Business Insider that Apple is now “where Google was three years ago,” and that the scaled down team working on the technology is “still in turmoil” after last year’s major internal reorganisation.

4. The US Federal Trade Commission has approved Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods. In a statement, it said that it was no longer investigating into the $13.7 billion (£10.7 billion) deal, initially deemed as potentially anti-competitive.

5. Samsung Mobile’s president DJ Koh said that the company is working on a smart speaker. It’s not clear whether the device will use Samsung’s own Bixby smart assistant, but it will compete directly against products like Google’s Home and the Amazon Echo when it launches.

6. Snap’s vice president of content Nick Bell said that he expects the company to publish scripted shows on Snapchat by the end of the year. He claimed that “mobile is not a TV killer,” and that with its mobile-focused programmes Snap wants to “complement” television instead.

7. Elon Musk revealed the design of SpaceX’s new space suits in an Instagram post. The CEO made it clear that the suit shown is not a mockup but an actual render, and that balancing the aesthetics with usability was “incredibly hard.”

8. Facebook is rolling out a new feature that will allow users to take 360 degree photos from inside the app. Users will then be able to share the picture or use it as their new cover photo.

9. Google and Walmart are partnering to offer voice shopping through Google Assistant on the Home smart speaker. Specifically, consumers will be able to use Walmart’s “Easy Reorder” feature that works integrated with Google’s “Express” shopping service.

10. Google will now offer a clinically validated screening quiz to users searching for “depression” on the web engine. The feature is currently live exclusively in the United States, and only works on mobile.

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NOW WATCH: 5 things the iPhone still can’t do

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