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Tech guru raises $500m to invest in Camden, the ‘New Palo Alto’

·2-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Saul Klein, the tech entrepreneur and investor behind companies such as Cazoo, Wise and Nanopore, has raised $500m to invest in tech companies at all stages from their first days through to publicly-quoted stocks.

Klein says that now is a great time to be investing in tech stocks, despite the plunging valuations of companies already listed on public markets in London and New York. He said: “Great companies still need capital and the pricing is significantly more rational than it was for the last 18 months.”

The former CEO of LoveFilm believes Camden, where his fund is based, is at the heart of a region capable of producing Europe’s biggest tech successes in the next 20 years - an area he has dubbed the ‘New Palo Alto’.

Klein coined the phrase New Palo Alto to describe the region that includes London, Paris, Amsterdam, Manchester and Cambridge - all less than four hours from central London by train. But he also warns that tech investors and founders need to create not just a New Palo Alto, but a different one.

He says: “From our base in Somers Town, next to St Pancras, we find income inequality and lack of social mobility, cheek by jowl with the future of genomics, AI and the creative industries. That is why we have taken the decision to invest 10% of the profits from our management company and 2% of carry into our foundation, which is already supporting 23 local charities and projects in our neighbourhood.”

And he’s concerned that UK savers and pensioners have missed out and will continue to miss out on the growth potential of technology, because of the old-fashioned attitudes of the City.

“Despite being the third best producer of high growth private companies globally, this geography is still underserved by investors, especially at the breakout and scale-up stages. Not only is there an acute funding gap at the scale-up stage here, less than 20% of the capital invested at that stage is domestic, so when companies in our region are acquired or move to the public markets, UK pensioners and savers miss out, while their Canadian, Australian and Singaporean equivalents benefit.”

In future LocalGlobe will be known as Phoenix Court Group, reflecting its new home in a Camden Council owned property that was a former trade union office.

Phoenix Court Works, the foundation, is currently supporting programs like Newton Ventures, which is training future venture capital investors from diverse backgrounds, and Launchpad, an initiative with Black Girl Fest designed to help young black entrepreneurs get their first investment.

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