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London tech set to reach new heights in 2022: These are the hottest unicorns in the capital right now

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Over the last decade, the UK tech industry has grown ten folds and is now buzzing with tech activity. 

The entrepreneurial spirit is thriving, and a growing number of ambitious and innovative companies are laying down the foundation, encouraged by a growing ecosystem and government policies. 

Raised $25.5B in 2021

According to the latest report from London & Partners and Dealroom.co, London startup investment reached an all-time high in 2021 of $25.5B, growing 2.3x YoY. 

London’s tech sector has shown resilience despite the various challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit. It competes strongly on the world stage against global tech hubs like the Bay Area, New York, India, and Shanghai. 

In fact, London ranks fourth globally for investment raised in 2021 behind the Bay Area ($100.9B), New York ($47.5B), and Greater Boston ($29.9B). The report adds that Berlin was the only other European city to make it into the top ten list with $11B in tech VC investment. 

20 new unicorns in 2021

As per the report, London added 20 new unicorns to its ranks in 2021, more than any other previous 12-month period. This figure takes London’s total unicorn count to 75. TFN take a look at all these stellar unicorns.

Depop

Founder/s: Simon Beckerman

Valuation: $1.6B

Depop is the fashion marketplace where users can buy, sell, discover and explore unique fashion. To date, the company has more than 21M registered users in 147 countries. The company was founded in 2011 and is headquartered in London with offices in Manchester, New York, and Sydney. In June, Etsy, a New York-based marketplace acquired Depop for $1.625B.

Zego

Founder/s: Harry Franks, Sten Saar, Stuart Kelly

Valuation: $1.1B

Zego is a commercial motor insurance provider that powers opportunities for businesses, from entire fleets of vehicles to self-employed drivers and riders. The company combines technology and data sources to offer insurance products that save businesses time and money.

Tractable

Founder/s: Adrien Cohen, Alexandre Dalyac, Razvan Ranca

Valuation: $1B

Tractable is a software company that develops artificial intelligence for accident and disaster recovery. Through AI, the company’s platform assesses damage to any car and predicts repair costs. By providing AI solutions to insurers, Tractable helps to settle claims quickly and efficiently, which in turn impacts livelihoods.

Arqit

Founder/s: David Williams

Valuation: $1.4B

Arqit supplies a quantum encryption Platform-as-a-Service which makes the communications links of any networked device secure against current and future forms of attack. 

The company’s product, QuantumCloud, enables any device to download a lightweight software agent, creating encryption keys in conjunction with any other device.

Starling Bank

Founder/s: Anne Boden

Valuation: $1.7B

Starling Bank is a mobile banking platform that offers personal, joint, and business accounts. It has more than 2M current accounts including 350,000 business accounts. The bank’s deposit base has increased from £1B to more than £6B. 

PPRO

Founder/s: Philipp Nieland, Tobias Schreyer

Valuation: $1B

PPRO is a global provider of local payments infrastructure, powering growth for payment service providers. Numerous payment companies, including Citi, Mollie, PayPal, Worldpay, leverage PPRO’s unified platform, and local payment methods to boost sales in over 100 e-commerce markets worldwide.

Genius Sports

Founder/s: Mark Locke, Robert Smithson 

Valuation: $3.5B

Genius Sports is a global platform in sports data technology, distribution, and commercialisation services. From enabling sports to better collect and manage their data to applying it to power better fan engagement, Genius Sports delivers the difference to sports, betting, and media partners globally. 

LMAX Group

Founder/s: Martin Thompson

Valuation: $1B

The LMAX Group is an independent operator of institutional execution venues for FX and cryptocurrency trading. LMAX Group services funds, banks, asset managers, and retail brokerages in over 100 countries.

Global-e

Founder/s: Amir Schlachet, Nir Debbi, Shahar Tamari

Valuation: $3.5B

Global-e is the platform to enable and accelerate global, direct-to-consumer cross-border e-commerce. The company’s platform helps retailers and brands increase international traffic conversion and grow sales by offering customers in over 200 destinations.

Thought Machine

Founder/s: Paul Taylor

Valuation: $1B

Thought Machine is a fintech company that builds cloud-native technology to revolutionise core banking. The company aims to cure one of the banking industry’s primary problems: its reliance on outdated IT infrastructure. The company’s solution ‘Vault’ is a retail banking platform that is capable of being configured easily to suit the needs of any bank.

Bought by many

Founder/s: Guy Farley, Steven Mendel

Valuation: $2.4B

Bought By Many is a pet insurance provider that aims to make the world a better place for pets and their parents. The company is known for introducing pet insurance and wellness policies, such as cover for pre-existing conditions, and was the first pet insurance provider in the UK to offer online claims.

Blockchain.com

Founder/s: Benjamin Reeves, Nicolas Cary, Peter Smith

Valuation: $5.2B

Blockchain.com is a platform that offers ways to buy, hold, and use cryptocurrency.

SaltPay

Founder/s: Ali Mazanderani, Eduardo Pontes

Valuation: $1B

SaltPay was founded with a mission to create affordably, and secure payment solutions that can help SMEs to manage and grow their operations better.

Image credits: Philip Belamant

Zilch

Founder/s: Philip Belamant

Valuation: $2B

Zilch is a buy now, pay later app competing directly with Klarna and allows its customers to shop wherever Mastercard is accepted.

Motorway

Founder/s: Alex Buttle, Harry Jones, Tom Leathes

Valuation: $1B

Motorway is an online used-car marketplace for professional car dealers that sells their cars using their smartphones. With more than 4,000 professional car dealers directly bidding on vehicles, the platform enables customers to sell their car for up to £1,000 more in as little as 24 hours.

Image credits: Alexander Kent-Braham and Oliver Kent-Braham

Marshmallow

Founder/s: Alexander Kent-Braham, David Goate, Oliver Kent-Braham

Valuation: $1.3B

Marshmallow is a digital motor insurtech startup founded to modernise the insurance industry with the ultimate aim of using data to provide more affordable insurance to customers who fall outside the typical “good risk” profile.

TrueLayer

Founder/s: Francesco Simoneschi, Luca Martinetti

Valuation: $1B

TrueLayer is an open banking platform that makes it easy for anyone to build better financial experiences. The fintech platform is utilised to build financial apps that connect to bank data, verify accounts, and access transactions.

Currencycloud

Founder/s: Mike Laven, Nigel Verdon, Richard Arundel, Stephen Lemon

Valuation: $1B

Currencycloud specialises in a fully cloud-based platform for B2B cross-border payments. The platform provides banks, fintechs, and businesses the capability to move money across borders, and transact globally in multiple currencies, fast. 

64 mega-rounds

London witnessed a massive surge in mega-rounds of $100M+ last year, accounting for over 60% of all funding. There were 64 mega-rounds in London last year, up from 19 in 2020 and 18 in 2019. 

Some of the largest deals include: 

  • an $800M funding for Revolut  
  • a $600M funding for Monzo
  • a $900M funding for Octopus Energy
  • an $850M funding for Hopin 

The findings also show that the enterprise value of London’s tech companies (founded since 2000) passed half a trillion dollars in 2021, growing 70% in value on the previous year. 

London VC firms in 2021

London-based VC firms raised $9.9bn in new funds in 2021, providing record levels of dry powder to pump into London-based tech companies this year, states the report. Major new London-based VC funds announced in 2021 includes:

  • Index Ventures – $3.1B 
  • Balderton – $600M 
  • 83North $550M. 

The findings also revealed that US investors are also increasingly looking at London’s tech sector, with 39% of all capital coming from the US into London in 2021, more than any other region and up from 30% in 2020.

Fastest growing sectors in London

As per the report, fintech remains one of the biggest sectors for funding followed by telecoms, health, and impact tech. 

In fact, London-based fintech firms raised $11.7B, accounting for 46% of investment in 2021, while telecoms and healthtech companies raised $2.6B and $1.6B respectively. Enterprise software investments also remained high at $2.5B. 

Laura Citron, CEO at London & Partners said: “London is now a truly mature global technology capital – we have big pools of later-stage funding, nearly two new unicorn companies every month, and massive funding rounds and exits. This data shows that London is not only a brilliant place for entrepreneurs to start businesses, but also to grow them to a global scale. London has it all – capital, talent, customers, a supportive ecosystem, and a fantastic place to live.”

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