Silicon Round-up: Dropbox shrugs off EU data protection threat

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The new proposals would make it harder for US companies to take data on EU citizens outside of Europe and some have seen Apple’s recently announced plans to spend €1.7 billion building data centres in Ireland and Denmark as a pre-emptive move to deal with the rules.

But Dropbox, the file sharing service that lets you store things in the clouds, isn’t worried.

The US business recently opened its first London office and UK boss Mark van der Linden is unfazed by the proposals, saying: “I’m a businessman and I prefer to concentrate on things we can control. We work hard to protect user’s information – it’s our number one priority. We’re using industry leading techniques to enhance security.

He adds: “I follow the news, I’ve seen the proposals. What we’re doing now is focusing on what we control and the growth of the business.”

However van der Linden wouldn’t rule out the possibility of cutting back on investment in Europe if the changes are enacted, saying only: “With the proposals in the stage they’re in it’s too soon to speculate.”

Dropbox, which relies on moving data about, is aggressively targeting business customers at the moment as part of its growth plan.

Channel 4, AA and Hailo already use its service in the UK, van der Linden says.

“In the past year, without a presence here, the amount of businesses using Dropbox for Business has doubled,” says van der Linden. “It felt like the right time for us to come here.”

Sharing start-ups club together with Sharing Economy UK

Start-ups pushing the ‘sharing economy’ now have a unified voice, with the launch today of a trade body that will fight for the right to rent things.

Airbnb, One Fine Stay and ZipCar are among the founding members of Sharing Economy UK (SEUK), which plans to “champion the sector, ensure best practice and act as a single voice for the industry”.

For those who don’t know, the sharing economy is a loose term for marketplace businesses that let people rent everything from homes to tools on a short term basis.

SEUK will be chaired by Debbie Wosskow, the boss of LoveHomeSwap.

Wosskow led a review of the ‘sharing economy’ for the Government last year and one of her key recommendations was that the industry should form a trade body.

“The first thing and the most important thing is best practice,” says Wosskow. “We’re launching a code of conduct. It’s going to be a framework of values, a framework of principles and a look at best practice.

“We need a kitemark that helps consumers understand that the businesses they’re interacting with – whether they’re home swapping, or ride sharing or renting their items – are absolutely certified.”

Given the range of businesses that the sector covers, Wosskow admits that there may have to be some subcategories to the code of conduct.

But there are some areas that affect all businesses in the sector, such as “insurance, consumer protection, and regulation in general terms.”

Goldman goes tech hunting in Twickenham

London’s buzzing technology scene has attracted the attention of none other than Goldman Sachs.

The investment bank has this week led a £25 million funding round for ‘online Ikea’ Worldstores.

The seven-year-old business, based in Twickenham, sells furniture online and also owns a consortium of other websites and businesses, including kids clothing retailer Kiddicare.

Worldstores, which is also backed by London venture capital firm Balderton, plans to use the new cash injection to launch next day delivery.

This is hardly the first time that Goldman has found itself rubbing shoulders with jean-wearing venture capitalist.

Goldman invested in Facebook in 2010, doubling its money with the social network’s 2012 stock market listing.

And the bank has made a total of 205 investments in growing tech companies, according to CrunchBase, including heavyweights such as Uber, Dropbox and LinkedIn.

But the fact that Goldman is looking across the pond for investment shows that London’s tech scene is being taken very seriously.

It may also be a reflection of the fact that start-ups in the US are fetching ever larger price tags, meaning its getting hard and harder to find value.

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March 6, 2015 |
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