In the loop: the continuous woes of traditional retailers, the Zuck goes to Washington and UK VC investments fall

Have you caught up on the most important startup news? No worries, we’ve got you covered with our weekly roundup. Find out why Goldman Sachs doesn’t consider finding cures for some diseases to be a good thing and read about Zopa’s new fundraising round, s

In the loop: the continuous woes of traditional retailers

More worries for high-street retailers as Mothercare and Carpetright close stores

The high street is changing. A combination of intensified competition from online vendors and inflation outgrowing wage growth has forced companies like Toys R Us, Jaeger and BHS to roll back their operations. And it seems as if the retail apocalypse has only just begun.

Following disappointing sales, this week saw rumours about both Carpetright, the flooring and carpet vendor, and Mothercare, the baby-centric retailer, planning to close a huge number of locations. Carpetright is reportedly planning to close 92 stores while Mothercare may shut down more than 40 shops.

Even though it’s sad to see traditional retailers struggle, that’s just how the free market works. If you don’t change with the times and adopt the latest tech to update your customer experience, then sales will only continue to drop.

Goldman Sachs warns biotech companies not to find cures too good

Entrepreneurs are increasingly eying the potential of combining their business knowhow with gene therapy to help cure diseases. However, a new report from Goldman Sachs warns that developing cures too efficient may leave businesses without customers.

The report titled The Genome Revolution outlines the investor opportunities in the market estimated to be worth $4.8tn. According to CNBC, the analyst behind the research wrote in a note to clients: “While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow.”

Instead, Goldman Sachs argued that investors should inject money into solutions helping bigger markets, curing diseases with high incidence and to constantly expand their portfolio.

All in all altruism seems to play second fiddle to capitalism.

Lender Zopa reportedly targets £400m valuation with new fundraising round

If there’s one thing Britain’s startup ecosystem excels at, it’s nurturing successful fintech enterprises. And now another enterprise may be joining the high-valued ranks of Funding Circle, MarketInvoice and Atom Bank.

Zopa, the peer-to-peer lender, is planning to raise a £125m round, according to Sky News. This will push the company’s valuation to a soaring £400m and is rumoured to serve as a pre-IPO funding round.

Exciting times indeed for Zopa and another vote of confidence for London’s ability to help fintech startups scale.

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman’s racism debacle

Given Reddit’s central idea is to enable discussions ranging from how Barack Obama would look if he power-lifted more to whether feminism is impeaching men’s rights, it’s not surprising the social-media platform has had its fair share of controversy. Although, it’s not every day its CEO Steve Huffman finds himself at the centre of them.

He sparked outrage earlier this week when stating that racism wasn’t against Reddit’s policy, according to The Verge. Following an intense backlash, he later updated his statement, saying that “while racism itself isn’t against the rules, it’s not welcome here.” Instead, Huffman argued that people finding xenophobic subreddits should engage in the debate rather than trying to silence it.

The remarks came as platforms like Facebook and Twitter are encouraged to do more to tackle hate speech on their sites.

Facebook’s data scandal urged startups to consider their data practises

This week saw Mark Zuckerberg testify in front of the congress in two marathon sessions. During two days the Facebook founder was asked about privacy and how the Cambridge Analytica scandal could happen in the first place. Data issues are also a hot topic across the pond with the General Data Protection Regulation coming into force on Friday May 25. That’s why we asked our expert panel how startups should think about data moving forward.

The employee habits UK bosses hate

Being a boss of a businesses brings a beautiful buoyancy of freedom. However, while all startups stand on the shoulders of their most talented employees, there are a few staff habits that always tend to grind employers’ gears the wrong way. This week CV-Library, the job board, revealed exactly which employee behaviours they hate the most.

UK VC investment dropped in Q1

No successful startup ecosystem can flourish without an apt influx of VC investment. Worryingly, it seems as if Brexit has left investors clutching their chequebooks tighter in the first quarter of 2018, according to KPMG Enterprise. Fortunately, there’s reason for optimism as the government and the EU agreed in March for a 21-month transition period after Britain leaves the union.

More startups are fighting fake news

When we asked Dhruv Ghulati, co-founder and CEO of Factmata, the startup using AI to detect falsehoods online, about the rise of fake news he noted that it had become big problem. “And I guarantee you that it’s getting worse,” he added. Fortunately, as we showed this week, he and other entrepreneurs are now fighting back against fallacious stories online.

Hostmaker’s CEO opens up about going against his father’s wishes

Having spotted a gap in the homestay market, Nakul Sharma leapt on the opportunity to provide hotel-quality services for Airbnb hosts in 2013. Now his startup Hostmaker is rapidly expanding its services across Europe. Although, as the CEO and co-founder revealed to us in our profile this week, if he’d listened to his dad, he’d never have had the chance.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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