Bosses of cyber security firm Darktrace set for a £3bn float windfall: Tech start-ups flood to market weeks after Deliveroo debacle
Darktrace has revealed plans for a blockbuster float in London just weeks after Deliveroo’s botched debut.
The Cambridge-based cyber-security business has yet to price its shares but could be worth as much as £3billion – putting bosses in line for tens of millions of pounds.
The decision will be seen as a vote of confidence in the Square Mile after worries that the food delivery app’s disastrous float would make other tech firms wary of following suit.
Darktrace boss Poppy Gustafsson (pictured) said the firm was not like Deliveroo and that it followed in the footsteps of mathematicians Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace and Alan Turing
Darktrace boss Poppy Gustafsson said yesterday that the two companies were not alike and that her firm followed in the footsteps of British mathematicians Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace and Alan Turing.
The Cambridge-based company, which is backed by Autonomy tycoon Mike Lynch, has developed world-leading software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to fend off cyber-security attacks.
Atom Bank to ponder Spac
Atom Bank also revealed it is considering a stock market listing via a so-called ‘blank cheque’ vehicle, in a hectic day for the tech sector.
Mark Mullen, the digital bank’s boss, said the option of floating through a special purpose acquisition company (Spac) was ‘interesting and intriguing’.
Spacs have become a popular way for tech companies to list because they allow the firms to bypass the traditional float process.
Online used car platform Cazoo, which the Daily Mail and General Trust owns shares in, recently unveiled plans to float in New York via a Spac.
If it is valued at £3billion, Gustafsson, 38, stands to make nearly £20million while co-founders Dave Palmer, Emily Orton, Jack Stockdale and Nicole Eagan could make another £120million between them.
The former British and American intelligence service veterans and Cambridge mathematicians founded Darktrace in 2013.
Lynch, who is battling extradition to the US over fraud allegations which he denies, also owns around 19 per cent of shares and could make nearly £600million.
The tech tycoon was Darktrace’s first major investor and top figures at the company are veterans of Autonomy and his investment fund Invoke Capital – although Lynch stopped working with the business after his legal troubles began.
Darktrace warned yesterday that its share price could be undermined if Lynch loses the court cases and is forced to sell his holdings.
Top advisers to Darktrace include former MI5 director Lord Evans, former top CIA veteran Alan Wade and former home secretary Amber Rudd.
Gustafsson said the decision to press ahead with a stock market float was ‘a major milestone in Darktrace’s history, and a historic day for the UK’s thriving technology sector’.
She added: ‘Darktrace’s success is testament to the strength of the UK’s world-leading science base and long history of mathematical discovery and computing inventions, from Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace to Alan Turing. We are proud to be part of that tradition of British innovation.’
Gustafsson also insisted that she has no qualms about the listing, despite Deliveroo’s recent flop.
When the food delivery company floated in London two weeks ago, it was shunned by big institutional funds over concerns about working practices and shares then crashed by 27 per cent on their first day.
But Gustafsson, who has been chief executive since 2016, said the fiasco had not worried her.
‘We have created a fundamental technology where we have artificial intelligence in a business, actively defending that business from threats.
‘Deliveroo is a technology-enabled service. When I talk to investors, they love that this business is sustainable.’
It has grown to employ some 1,500 staff and boasts 4,700 customers, including Rolls-Royce and Coca-Cola. Last year it generated £145million in revenues and £6.5million in adjusted profits.
Big buzz over pensions app
Pensionbee was valued at up to £384million yesterday as it moved closer to a London float.
The savings app, which lets people manage their pensions from a smartphone, said shares will be priced at 175p.
That implies a market capitalisation of £384million – meaning boss Romina Savova could receive a £140million windfall.
Pensionbee will raise £55million by selling 35.5m new shares, with the money used to fund expansion plans.
Small investors are lining up to take part and more than 12,000 Pensionbee customers have registered an interest so far.
Pensionbee was founded by Savova, 35, and Jonathan Parsons, 38, the firm’s technology chief, in 2014.
The app allows customers to merge their existing retirement pots into one plan.
Both executives will receive salaries worth £175,000 per year. They can also receive long-term bonuses worth up to £218,750, annual bonuses worth up to £175,000 and pension contributions of £8,750, taking their maximum annual packages to £577,500 depending on performance.