Tag Archives: London
LONDON (Reuters) – Dozens of stallholders, pitching anything from a happy retirement to commercial property to the future of electronics, set up shop in central London last weekend to pitch their wares.
The companies and their salesmen were not there to part ways with the actual product, however. They just wanted to encourage buying into the digital coin craze that is raising billions of dollars.
At what organizers claimed to be Britain’s first large-scale “Crypto Investor Show”, attendees were looking to get in on the next initial coin offering (ICO).
The talk of Silicon Valley, ICOs are a mostly unregulated funding mechanism for start-ups to raise capital by creating and then issuing their own virtual coins or tokens. Last year, they raised a record sum as interest in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin surged.
“I came here to learn about ICOs. You have to do your research, but I would invest, it’s the upcoming thing,” said 30-year-old Shahzad Anwar, who installs electric charging points and had traveled down from the central England town of Solihull with his brother to attend.
“To me, stocks and shares and bonds are over, they are done,” he said, as attendees listened to a pitch at a nearby stall for an ICO wanting to raise tens of millions of dollars to build and race a supercar. Another promised to build a network of rest homes for the elderly.
Regulators say ICOs are highly speculative and investors should be prepared to lose everything. Unlike stocks, most ICOs do not confer ownership rights in the underlying business, just the possibility that the tokens will be worth more in future.
Supporters say ICOs are revolutionizing the capital-raising industry, a crowdfunding alternative that gives ordinary people the chance to invest in start-ups, normally the preserve of the venture capitalist elite.
From circulating on tiny online chatrooms a few years ago, cryptocurrencies and ICOs have moved to the mainstream, with public advertising common.
Some companies have pushed back, however. Facebook said it would ban all crypto adverts because of the risks to investors. Twitter said it was taking measures to prevent cryptocurrency-related accounts from running scams on its platform.
London regularly hosts conferences on blockchain, the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies, where tech wizards exchange ideas, but the London show was geared towards the general public as well as experts.
The crowds arrived, some families for a day out, touring the stalls and listening to panelists. As well as marketing, there were sessions that discussed the risks.
Several attendees who worked in the industry said they were disappointed with the ICOs on offer, with staff hired for the day to hand out flyers and with little understanding of blockchain technology, or if it was even relevant to their idea.
“Don’t fall for some of the marketing out there … [You have to ask] is it actually solving a problem or is it just making one up?” said Linda Leaney at Globcoin, which claims to be a stable cryptocurrency backed by global currencies and gold.
One Leeds-based company, offering a token backed by commercial property, crypto trading and the founder’s online discount shopping platform, said it had raised $ 4 million in seed investment, and was targeting $ 10 million, with bonus tokens and referral awards for attendees that emailed their details.
Nearby, one programmer and salesman after another took to a small stage to explain their business. No company promised anyone a specific financial return, and aside from the price of each token and early-bird discounts, they stuck to talking up their product.
Sam Smit, a 34-year-old electronics engineer from Horsham in southern England, is a self-styled “dirty flipper” – someone who buys a token at the pre-ICO stage before token sales are opened to the general public, then sells them when they begin trading on an exchange.
“Have you seen `Wolf of Wall Street’? This is the same, pump and dump!” he said, referring to the 2013 film about the stock broker and convicted fraudster Jordan Belfort.
“People here are illiterate idiots. Often after the pre-ICO stage, it’s already too late to buy,” he said – while admitting that he had lost around $ 400,000 in January when cryptocurrency prices slumped.
Editing by Sujata Rao, Larry King
LONDON (Reuters) – Uber [UBER.UL] will defend its right to operate in London in a court hearing on Monday after the app was deemed unfit to run a taxi service and stripped of its license in its most important European market.
Regulator Transport for London (TfL) shocked the Silicon Valley firm by rejecting its license renewal bid in September, citing its approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks on drivers.
Uber’s 40,000 drivers, representing around one in three of all private hire vehicles on the British capital’s roads, can continue to take passengers until the appeals process is exhausted, which could take years.
The legal battle pitches one of the world’s richest cities against a tech giant known for its forays into new markets around the world that have prompted bans, restrictions and protests, including by drivers of London’s famous black cabs.
Uber’s lawyers will begin their appeal at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday, in what is expected to be a largely administrative hearing designed to set a date for a fuller hearing next year.
Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi has apologized to Londoners and met TfL Commissioner Mike Brown in October for what both sides described as constructive talks.
Brown told Reuters in November that “there are some discussions going on to make sure they are compliant.”
Months of legal wrangling are likely unless the Silicon Valley app, valued at around $ 70 billion with investors including Goldman Sachs (GS.N), can come to a new arrangement with the regulator.
“We continue having constructive discussions with Transport for London in order to resolve this,” an Uber spokesman said ahead of the hearing. “As our new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said, we are determined to make things right.”
Losing its London license was just one of many blows to Uber this year as a stream of executives left amid controversies involving allegations of sexual harassment and issues surrounding data privacy and business practices.
In Britain, Uber is looking to appoint a new boss after Jo Bertram announced her departure less than two weeks after London’s decision.
It also faces potential problems in the northern English city of Sheffield where its license has been suspended and in Brighton, southern England, where local officials extended the firm’s license for only six months to give them more time to consider the outcome of the dispute in London.
Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Keith Weir
LONDON (Reuters) – Uber’s [UBER.UL] appeal process against a decision by London’s transport regulator to strip the taxi app of its operating license in the British capital could take years, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said on Thursday.
Transport for London shocked Uber in September by deeming it unfit to run a taxi service and refusing to renew its license, a decision the Silicon Valley firm is appealing.
“My understanding is that it could go on for a number of years,” Khan said at a monthly question session when asked about how long the appeals process could last.
Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison
Less than a month into the job, new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is headed to London to try to negotiate the restoration of the company’s operating license in the British capital.
On September 22, Transport for London (TfL) ruled that Uber was unfit to operate as it decided not to renew the company’s license, which is due to expire on Saturday. TfL cited previous issues reporting criminal offenses and background checks on drivers, calling Uber not “fit and proper” to operate in London. According to Reuters, Khosrowshahi will meet with Mike Brown, the head of the London transport system, on Tuesday.
News of Khosrowshahi’s meeting closely follows Prime Minister Theresa May’s statement that the London withdrawal of Uber is “disproportionate,” putting thousands of jobs at risk. The prime minister acknowledged safety concerns associated with the ride-hailing company, but called for a level playing field between private firms like Uber and London taxis.
London is one of Uber’s most important global markets, with nearly 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 drivers using the app. After the TfL announced its decision to revoke Uber’s license, more than 800,000 Londoners have signed a petition supporting Uber. And following Khosrowshahi’s apology earlier this week, London mayor Sadiq Khan appears open to discussions, reportedly asking the TfL to be available to meet with him.
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An Uber spokesman said that Khosrowshahi “is looking forward to meeting with the Commissioner next week. As he said on Monday, we want to work with London to make things right.”
While Uber may be eager to make nice, there is one group that is not so unhappy with the TfL ruling. Addison Lee, which is the second biggest private ride company in London behind Uber, sees an opportunity to gain more riders from Uber’s ban. The company plans to increase its 3,600 drivers in London to approximately 4,450. But Uber will still be able to operate in the capital until the appeals process has been completed, which could take months.
You’ve seen AI achieve incredible things like defeat world champions at Go, describe photos for the visually impaired and operate an elevator. But now, a startup in London has finally figured a genuinely useful application: brewing quality beers. IntelligentX offers four basic beers, including a classic British golden ale, a British bitter kissed with grapefruit, a hoppy American pale ale and a smokey marmite brew. Once you’ve tasted them, you can chat with the company’s Messenger bot to share your feedback, which its IBM Watson-based AI uses to improve on its recipes. That means that each batch of beer will…
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