In the loop: New Farfetch fashion accelerator, IMF tech giant worries and Theranos staff shoot reporter in a game

If you’ve missed the news this week, then we’ve got you covered. From tech sexism to how Amazon Echo can save the high street, check out this smattering of the most important stories for startups from the past seven days.

In the loop: New Farfetch fashion accelerator

Farfetch to launch a fashion accelerator

Ever since José Neves first launched Farfetch, the fashion e-commerce platform, the company has gone from strength to strength. Now the business aims to share some of its innovative insights by launching an accelerator.

The new Dream Assembly accelerator is also backed by Burberry and 500 Startups, the VC firm, and will pick ten fashion startups for its 12-week programme, which will be placed in Lisbon. The lucky entrepreneurs picked for the programme will not only get help developing ideas but will also see their services implemented in Farfetch’s own business model.

But Farfetch is hardly alone in launching a company-run accelerator aimed at boosting its own model. For instance, John Lewis and L’Oréal have also launched similar programmes in the years gone by. For entrepreneurs, it seems as if haute couture is only getting hauter and hauter.

IMF chief fears tech titans are becoming too powerful

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is concerned about how mighty Silicon Valley giants are becoming. During a press conference to kick off the IMF’s spring meeting, she expressed her worries that these tech titans are stifling competition and innovation.

However, Lagarde noted that she’s not considering breaking up these businesses to be a viable option as it would require dealing with too much complexity. Nevertheless, she added that the IMF is studying ways to deal with the problem.

While Lagarde may not be considering bringing out the big sledgehammer, Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner for competition, has previously not ruled out breaking up Google for anti-competitive behaviour.

No matter how you look at it, it’s clear that the pressure is on for Silicon Valley.

House of Lords report suggests way to make UK a world leader in ethical AI

From announcing a strategy aiming to make the UK even stronger in fintech to the rollout of 5G across the country, the government is serious about making Britain a world leader in tech. And now a House of Lords select committee has released a report outlining how the UK can become an ethical leader in artificial intelligence (AI).

One of the suggestions is the establishment of an ethical AI code which would be based on the principal that AI should only be developed for the common good and benefit of humanity and operate on principles of intelligibility and fairness. Closely related to this, the committee also suggested that AI should never be able to hurt, destroy or deceive human beings.

Moreover, it argued that AI shouldn’t diminish the data rights or privacy of individuals, families or communities. Finally, it suggested that all citizens should have the right to be educated to enable them to flourish mentally, emotionally and economically alongside AI.

With several tech giants pledging this week to never create cyber weapons, it seems as if being ethical is becoming an increasingly big concern for the industry.

Theranos employees created video game where they shoot the reporter that exposed them

Most startups fail. However, few fall from such an altitude and so spectacularly as Theranos, the US startup once valued at $9bn thanks to its revolutionising blood-testing technology. There was only one problem, the tech didn’t exist.

After the Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou revealed the company to be a hoax, the startup’s value plummeted to near bankruptcy and Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, has faced criminal suits and has been barred from serving

as a director of a company for ten years. However, some has apparently blamed Carreyrou for the former unicorn’s demise. This week a video hit the internet showing Theranos employees playing a Space Invaders-like game where the UFOs shot down had been replaced with the journalist’s head.

If you ask us, it’s hardly reporters’ fault if a company misleads its investors and clients. Although, we might be slightly biased on the issue.

What UK tech startups can learn from Microsoft’s alleged sexism

In the age of the #MeToo movement, companies must be vigilant against sexism and discrimination in their own ranks or risk being outed in the public. This was something Microsoft experienced this week when the tech titan was accused of nurturing an unfriendly environment for women. Fortunately, there are at least some lessons UK startups can learn from these alleged incidents.

This former Google employee is making property deals easier with Settled

After almost a decade working with Google and seeing how technology was transforming people’s lives for the better, Gemma Young was left puzzled as to why she wasn’t seeing similar efforts to fix the broken property market. But when her friend lost the chance to get her dream house, Young decided that she’d do something about it herself and launched Settled. And as she told us in the interview published this week, she’s only just getting started.

How that deepfake Obama reminded us about the risks of fake news

This week saw a video of former president Barack Obama go viral. While it seemed as if the former commander-in-chief was insulting The Donald, it was soon revealed that this was a deepfake video created by Get Out director Jordan Peele. It also shone a light on the challenges startups face when battling untruths on the web.

The world’s top ten venture capitalists revealed

Being picked by a successful venture capitalist can be the vote of confidence you need to get a leg up  and leave the competition shrinking in the rearview mirror. But as CB Insights, the VC database, and The New York Times showed this week when they ranked the 100 most influential VCs around the globe, some investors are more powerful than others. Lucky for you, we’ve drilled deep into the list to bring you a rundown of the top ten stars.

UK tech leaders thinks consumer trust is at a record low

It’s clear that the Cambridge Analytica scandal has caused consumers confidence in Facebook to plummet. But a new report from Tech London Advocates, the network for tech professionals in the UK capital, revealed that the UK tech leaders fear that consumers trust in the sector is at a record low. Fortunately, the researchers also outlined a few ways to amend this particular low.

We asked Alexa if voice-controlled devices could save the high street

Traditional bricks and mortar retailers have struggled with the competition from online vendors for the last decade. Ironically, while new technology has caused many iconic brands to roll back their operations, innovations could also potentially help save them. For instance, we asked market experts this week about how Google Home and Amazon Echo could be the answer to retailers’ prayers.

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Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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