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Losing Depop to US ownership makes the British tech sector look secondhand | Apps

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Depop, the fashion resale app, has joined fellow British tech companies such as Arm Holdings and DeepMind in heading to a deep pool of investment outside its homeland.

London-based Depop’s acquisition by Brooklyn-based Etsy for $1.6bn (£1.1bn) last week came just days after Oxford-based WaveOptics, a maker of displays used in augmented-reality glasses, was bought up by the Santa Monica-headquartered owner of Snapchat for $500m.

Depop may not be of such strategic importance to the UK economy as the likes of Arm, or fellow chip-maker Imagination Technologies, both bought by foreign buyers. But its 30 million users – a number that has tripled in less than three years – are mostly under 26 and mark out the future direction of retail: more online, sustainable and social.

London crowed about securing the listing of Deliveroo, where the poor performance of the share price has reflected concerns about the welfare of its thousands of delivery drivers. Depop marked out a more hopeful future – but with it now in Etsy’s hands, British retailers have no obvious way of following the lead of John Lewis and then Marks & Spencer, which invested in Ocado, enabling both to buy their way into the fast-growing world of online grocery shopping.

Initially, Depop was a tale of triumph for the UK. Entrepreneur Simon Beckerman founded the company in Italy in 2011 but moved to London in 2015 after winning $8m in funding from Balderton Capital, the UK-based investment firm which has previously backed Betfair and the online lingerie specialist Figleaves.

The business now has offices as far afield as New York and Sydney, but is led from the UK, where it built its market from an aesthetic steeped in British fashion trends, from Burberry coats and chunky trainers fit for a Spice Girl to Y2K fashions born out of clubs in London and Manchester.

It taps into Generation Z’s obsession with “side hustles” – a way to earn money outside one’s day-to-day life. Trading in cast-offs is a rapidly expanding activity expected to grow 15-20% a year for the next five years, outgrowing fast fashion.

That growth is not only fuelling more established players such as eBay, but generating new entrants such as Vinted, Poshmark and The RealReal, which provide a challenge to traditional high street brands.

The resale market is becoming increasingly mainstream, with even the UK supermarket Asda trying out secondhand sections in stores, in partnership with Preloved Vintage Wholesale. Department store John Lewis, furnishings group Ikea and sports retailer Decathlon are all experimenting with resale businesses too.

Technology is enabling that growth, as parents sell baby clothes via Facebook and young people trade sought-after trainers from their own Instagram shops. Selfridges now has an outlet for vintage fashion specialist Vestiaire Collective, while handbag label Mulberry is refurbishing and reselling its used products online.

Etsy is to allow Depop to continue as a standalone business run by the existing team from London. That is some good news at least for jobs and knowhow in the UK, although with upstarts such as Vinted and Asos’s marketplace already on its tail, it’s not clear if Etsy will enable Depop to keep its edgy, underground feel.

The change in ownership also will not prevent young UK entrepreneurs developing, via Depop, skills in online selling, design and merchandising that could lay the foundations for new standalone businesses.

There is hope the UK can capitalise on their expertise to keep the resale sector on British shores, even if we can’t compete with the deep pockets of the US tech giants.

AMC cinemas become star of their own Wall Street drama

What do you do when legions of small investors are buying your company’s shares to use as a stick with which to beat Wall Street? The answer for AMC Entertainment – the world’s largest cinema company and owner of the Odeon chain in the UK – is to make sure they’re buying at least some of that stock from you.

AMC has become a focal point for amateur investors coordinating via Twitter and Reddit to buy shares in previously unpopular companies – called “meme stocks” – hoping to catch pantomime-villain hedge funds in a “short squeeze”.

When the same thing happened to GameStop, the US video game retailer was little more than a passenger in the proceedings.

AMC is trying to ride the tiger. In January, it escaped bankruptcy thanks to a $917m debt-and-equity cash-raising exercise. Now, instead of thinking about survival, it is capitalising on the surge in its stock price to issue more new shares at higher values that it could otherwise have achieved. It has even offered investors free popcorn.

Cash from new investors can be used to pay down some of the rescue debt and even to expand.

Last Tuesday, it sold stock for $230.5m to Mudrick Capital Management (a hedge fund, ironically), having previously raised $428m in mid-May, when the small-investor frenzy began lifting its share price. And on Thursday, it filed to sell 11.5 million more shares.

Speaking via Twitter, increasingly the platform of choice for market-moving statements, chief executive Adam Aron said this was “not mindless dilution, but rather this is very smart raising of cash so that we can grow this company”.

He is banking on vaccinations and a pent-up flurry of blockbuster movies to deliver a dramatic turnaround for a firm that looked like a total turkey just a few months ago.

Whether one sees the “meme stock” phenomenon epitomised by GameStop and AMC as an exercise in futility, borderline market manipulation, or a welcome piece of anti-Wall Street online activism, Aron seems to have found a solution that works for AMC. It may not be long before his own cinemas are showing the movie.

Exxon chief on short leash after shareholder uprising

ExxonMobil’s chief executive, Darren Woods, has has the dubious honour of overseeing probably the most calamitous period in the oil giant’s history since taking the reins a little over four years ago. Under his watch the company has lost a third of its market value, been ousted from the Dow Jones index, and reported its first annual loss since Exxon and Mobil merged in 1998.

But it is Woods’s handling of ExxonMobil’s first major shareholder rebellion that is likely to raise questions over his future at the helm of America’s biggest oil company. Engine No 1, the upstart hedge fund that toppled three senior business figures from the Exxon board last week, did not target Woods. But its boardroom coup has been seen by industry observers as a clear indictment of his leadership.

Engine No 1 put forward four alternative board members after accusing Exxon of failing to adapt to the climate crisis – and the company’s largest shareholders agreed. Investors may be willing to forgive Woods for inheriting a difficult situation before the Covid-19 oil slump, but his failure to set a future-proof vision for navigating the transition to low-carbon energy has become deeply worrying for its long-term institutional stakeholders, which include some of the biggest money managers in the world.

Woods survived the boardroom battle because a greater concern – over the short term – would be losing the chief executive at a time of major upheaval for the board, and when existential decisions for the company still hang in the balance. Shareholders voted in favour of his position on the board at the annual meeting, but the disruption has assured that this future will be far tougher than he expected.

Before next year’s meeting, Woods will need to prove that he is up to the challenge, and set out a clear future for one of the world’s biggest climate polluters in a net-zero-carbon world. The chief executive may be down, but he is not out. Yet.

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Angharad Yeo: the 10 funniest things I have ever seen (on the internet) | Comedy

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I am a child of the internet. I was always drawn to computers and tech, and used to beg my dad to bring us to his office on a weekend so we could use the high-speed internet to play Neopets games. As I got older it was all MSN, MySpace, Paramore fan forums, Tumblr, Twitter and now TikTok. I want nothing more than to zone out and look at my little pictures.

One of my favourite things about the internet is that it allows you to see everyone’s best joke. The moment in their life where they were at their absolute funniest – whether it be because they had a moment of brilliant wit or because they got pulled through a panel roof while practising for a high school play (I assume).

The internet has rotted my brain with the following content. Please now allow it to rot yours.

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The Pandemic Years have (and continue to be) difficult for everyone. Who among us has not, at one time or another, needed to just explain themselves by saying: “It’s mental illness, innit?”

2. Perfect burger

When I showed this video to my fiancee, she flatly said: “I like how absurdist it is.” That’s her code for, “I don’t get it, but I’m happy you’re happy.” And I am happy. Look at how confident and brave this burger is – ready to take on the world, come what may. I wish to be the burger.

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I have been to court precisely once because I inadvertently got in a cop’s way and he was grumpy about it so he booked me. The penalty was dismissed but not before I cried in front of the judge trying to explain what happened because I was so stressed out. Court is a daunting place and I simply cannot imagine walking in there with any level of irreverence. However, I’m extremely glad there are people who simply do not care, will say whatever damn thing and then an internet angel turns them into TikToks.

4. Turtle choir

This tweet is made all the more majestic by the vaguely threatening Sylvanian Families-style profile picture, on a Twitter account named @bigfatmoosepssy.

5. Trying coffee with pasta water

Climate change is slowly turning the Earth into a barren ball of pain as Mother Nature smacks us for being extremely bad. Even though individual responsibility for climate change isn’t enough to turn the tide, I still applaud those who try. Twitter user @madibskatin woke up in the morning and decided to be the change she wants to see in the world, tastebuds be damned. One could argue that it’s pretty obvious that pasta water isn’t going to make a good coffee but like my dad says as he puts pineapple juice in his coffee: “If no one tries it, how will we know? What if it’s secretly good?”

6. Soaring, flying

If you look closely, this video is actually a metaphor for the ways in which we attempt to break free from our circumstances, yet are entirely at the mercy of them.

7. You cannot trick me

This may be a parody Twitter account, but the spirit of Gail Walden speaks truths. There is no victory sweeter than that which is gained on thine enemy’s own soil.

8. Self-deprecating jokes

Humour is a coping mechanism. I am coping.

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Dairy products are delicious. Ice-cream? Revolutionary. Cheese? Life-changing. Whipped cream on a pavlova? Essential. But milk? Disgusting. It’s not a drink, it’s a stepping stone to greater things.

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I am absolutely 100% not at all lactose intolerant (I promise) so I don’t relate to this video at all (not even a bit).

Angharad Yeo is the host of Double J Weekends, 9am – midday, Saturdays and Sundays.



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F5 cuts revenue 2022 forecasts amid low network chip stocks • The Register

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The artist formerly know as F5 Networks – it moved to plain old F5 in November – is clipping revenue forecasts for fiscal ’22 by $30m to $90m because it can’t source enough specialised chips to produce systems.

The continued impact of the shortfall was outlined in F5’s Q1 results to 31 December and subsequent earnings conference call, during which chief exec François Locoh-Donou opened up on the challenge of suppliers cancelling orders because they can’t meet demand.

“As a result of persistent strong system demand, our systems backlog continued to grow in Q1,” he said. “Over the last 30 days, suppliers of critical components that span a number of our platforms have informed us of significant increases in decommits.

“These came in the form of both order delivery delays and sudden and pronounced reduction in shipment quantities. The step function decline in components availability is significantly restricting our ability to meet our customers’ continued strong demand for our systems.

“Like others in the industry, we are seeing worsening availability of specialized networking chipsets. Within the last 30 days, we have learned that deliveries for 52-week lead time components or at a year ago have been pushed out and that our expected quantities have been reduced.”

Group turnover grew 10 per cent year-on-year to $687m in F5’s Q1, fuelled by a 47 per cent leap in software to $163m, 2 per cent in services to $344m, and 1 per cent in hardware to $180m.

“Our software transition continues to gain momentum,” said Locoh-Donou, adding later in the earnings call: “While we are solely disappointed that supply chain challenges have gated our ability to fulfil customer demand for systems in the near term, we are more confident than ever in our position, our strategy and our long-term opportunity.”

The backlog grew by 10 per cent so the sales pipeline is looking healthy, said the exec, who was at great pains throughout the call to tell analysts: “It absolutely is a supply issue. And the revision we’ve just done to our annual guidance is 100 per cent linked to the supply issue.”

For the year, F5 now expects sales to grow 4-8 per cent ($610m to $650m).

“The issue with our supply chain has deteriorated steadily. And last year, we were not able to ship the demand, which is why our backlog grew so much during the year.

“Things have been getting worse. And at the beginning of our fiscal year, when we were doing the planning for this year, we actually took into account the number of decommits that we were getting from various suppliers and a situation that was already very tight on a number of components.”

He said in the past month it was seeing more than 400 cancellations from suppliers, “and we were running about 30 per cent less than that even just a month ago – the situation is quite unprecedented.”

In a bid to ameliorate the supply situation, F5 said it is working to design and qualify replacement parts – which may improve thing in the second half of the year. It is also trying to pre-order more components.

F5 is confident that it will not see orders cancelled. “The demand we have is very real. Our lead times, unfortunately, have gotten progressively worse over the last five, six quarters, but we haven’t seen any increase in order cancellation, and we don’t expect to see that going forward,” Locoh-Donou stated.

Supply chain problems with silicon components have been hitting companies in the IT industry and beyond for multiple quarters now, and networking vendors are no less vulnerable.

Last year, Arista warned that lead times for key chips were extending out to 60 weeks, twice what would be expected before the pandemic. Both Arista and Juniper announced they were being forced to bump up prices in November, while Cisco warned its buyers and investors that supply chain issues were likely to persist for several months more, although it expected to see some improvement in the situation for Q3 and Q4, taking us into the second half of 2022. ®

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Cork data centre equipment maker Edpac acquired for €29m

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Munters, a Swedish air treatment technology company, will use the Edpac acquisition to expand into the European market.

Irish data centre equipment manufacturer Edpac has been acquired by Swedish company Munters in a €29m deal.

Based in Carrigaline, Co Cork, Edpac manufactures cooling equipment and air handling systems for data centres in the European market, with additional sales in the Middle East, South America and Asia.

For Munters, which has significant operations in North America, the acquisition is an opportunity for it to expand in the European market. Once complete, the deal will see the transfer of Munters’ technologies and engineering capabilities to Ireland.

“The European data centre market is a prioritised segment for Munters, and the acquisition is a significant step in our growth strategy,” said Klas Forsström, president and chief executive of Munters.

Forsström said that Munters’ experience in the North American market will provide Edpac with “opportunities for further profitable growth” by collaborating on “technology development and establishing unified processes”.

Edpac has two manufacturing facilities in Ireland – Newmarket and Carrigaline – and employs around 150 people in the country. Currently a manufacturing partner for Munters, Edpac sees approximately 7pc of its revenue come from the sale of Munters products.

In the financial year ending April 2021, Edpac reported net sales of €17m and earnings before tax of €1.7m. According to The Irish Times, Edpac managing director Noel Lynch has led the company since it was bought from its Swiss parent in 1991.

“We are excited to welcome Edpac to Munters. Edpac brings an attractive, differentiated customer base and high-quality products,” Forsström said, adding that Edpac’s operating model “is a perfect match with Munters ways of working.”

Founded in 1955, Munters aims to create energy efficient air treatment technologies for customers in a wide range of industries. Listed on Nasdaq Stockholm, it employees 3,300 employees across 30 countries – with annual sales exceeding 7bn Swedish krona in 2020.

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