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Connected newsletter: Wayflyer flies higher as start-up funding figures make for grim reading

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Greetings from a ridiculously cold Helsinki where I’m here for Slush, which bills itself as the “most founder-focused tech event on earth.” The temperatures may be below freezing but there is a warm welcome for anyone foolish enough to visit at this time of the year.

The Irish are out in force here with Enterprise Ireland hosting a stand and start-ups galore looking to find customers, partners and investors. I’ll have a wrap of the conference as soon as my fingers unfreeze...

Speaking of the latter and there was grim reading in Atomico’s latest ‘State of European Tech’ earlier this week, which shows a huge drop in funding for Irish tech start-ups.

Talk to anyone in the sector and they’ll largely concur with the findings of fewer deals for early-stage firms. It isn’t something that’s just restricted to Ireland with the rest of the Europe and the US also reporting a decline in transactions. Nonetheless, Atomico warned that Ireland’s share of European funding went down 0.4 percentage points in the 2021-23 period.

In more positive news, Cork has been named as a runner-up in a competition to find the most innovative rising city in Europe. Will we ever hear the end of it? I doubt it.

Funding may have become rarer but it is by no means extinct. Belfast-based software company Cloudsmith announced an impressive $11 million raise on Monday. In addition, Offr, an Irish property tech company, confirmed it had secured €2.1 million in an oversubscribed funding round co-led by Barclays.

In an interesting development, Molten Ventures, the Dublin and London-listed venture capital firm, acquired Forward Partners, an early VC funder, in a £41.4 million (€47.7 million) deal.

There was also a nice bit of recognition for Swoop, the fintech led by Andrea Reynolds and Ciarán Burke, as it was named as the fastest-growing Irish technology business in this year’s Deloitte ‘Fast 50’ ranking.

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It was a big week for Irish tech unicorns. Wayflyer, the fintech that provides loans to e-commerce companies, forecast revenues of up to €70 million this year as it hit monthly profitability in October. Elsewhere, Workhuman reported a 29 per cent rise in revenues to over $1 billion last year. Its legal action also continued this week. Talking of which, here’s some good background on that case written by my colleague Catherine Sanz at the weekend.

It’s been a busy time for companies filing accounts locally. Among the firms whose 2022 numbers we covered over the last few days were TikTok, FreeNow, Airbnb and Meta.

Denis O'Brien also made headlines this week with his views on the role of Meta and Google in Africa, claiming the tech giants are “greedy f**ks” and accused them of not paying enough tax in the continent.

All the best,



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Features from elsewhere

European VC ecosystem heavily biased against female founders (TheNextWeb)

The new dating app etiquette (Washington Post