In today’s ExchangeWire news digest: billionaire Elon Musk has increased his shares in Twitter to become the platform's largest stakeholder; the UK government has revealed plans to become a 'global hub' for the crypto industry; and Barcelona-based start-up Amenitiz has raised USD $30m (£22.8m) in a Series A funding round.
Elon Musk becomes Twitter’s largest stakeholder
Billionaire Elon Musk has purchased a USD $2.89bn (£2.3bn) stake in Twitter, increasing his total shares to 9.2% . The purchase has made Musk the largest stakeholder in the social media company, with a stake more than four times the 2.25% holding of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.
The entrepreneur, whose business ventures include founding SpaceX and heading Tesla Inc., has over 80 million followers on Twitter and is a frequent user of the platform. Musk has, however, been highly critical of the site, having recently stated he was “giving serious thought” to developing his own social media platform after questioning whether Twitter had adhered to the principles of free speech.
Following the announcement of Musk’s purchase on Monday (4th April), Twitter’s shares rocketed by over 25% in pre-market trading, adding around USD $8bn (£6bn) to the company’s stock price. The jump in stock price also elevated the value of Musk’s shares to over USD $3.5bn (£2.6bn).
Analysts predict that the shareholding from Musk could lead to the billionaire becoming interested enough in Twitter to buy it out entirely. Speaking to The Guardian, Wedbush Securities analyst, Dan Ives, commented, “We would expect this passive stake as just the start of broader conversations with the Twitter board/management that could ultimately lead to an active stake and a potential more aggressive ownership role of Twitter.”
Musk is yet to make an official statement regarding the purchase, but has taken to Twitter to ask users whether they would like the option to edit tweets on the platform. Musk has previously acted on the consensus of his Twitter followers; in November 2021, Musk sold shares of around USD $5bn (£3.7bn) in Tesla based on the results of a poll he published to the site.
UK government reveals aim to become ‘global hub’ for crypto industry
The UK government has outlined plans to become an international centre for the crypto industry, proposing a Royal Mint NFT, new regulations for stablecoins, and numerous other measures to attract digital asset companies.
Speaking on Monday (4th April), economic secretary to the Treasury and city minister, John Glen, stated that the government was committed to showing “the UK is open for business and open for crypto businesses” adding that “We see enormous potential in crypto.”
Glen’s speech signals a shift from the UK government’s previous stance regarding cryptocurrency businesses entering the UK market. As recently as January 2022, government ministers were considering a crackdown on the promotion of cryptocurrencies and NFTs in the interest of preventing vulnerable people from falling into debt.
The measures outlined in Glen’s speech include: bringing stablecoins into the UK’s existing laws around electronic payments; consulting on a “world-leading regime” for regulating trade in alternative cryptocurrencies (including bitcoin); examining the tax treatment of decentralised finance (DeFi) loans and crypto users’ ability to earn interest on their savings; asking the Law Commission to consider the legal status of decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs); establishing a Cryptoasset Engagement Group chaired by UK regulators and held for UK regulators and crypto businesses; and exploring blockchain technology as an option for issuing debt.
The UK finance minister, Rishi Sunak, has also commissioned the Royal Mint to create and issue an NFT by summer 2022, as an “an emblem of the forward looking approach we are determined to take.”
Glen went on to describe the UK’s move towards crypto as the government “widening the gaze” of its work on crypto regulation and developing new rules to create a “world-leading regime for the rest of the market”.
Amenitiz secures USD $30m to expand European presence
Amenitiz, an SaaS maker which sells software-as-a-service to streamline the administration of B&Bs and independent hotels, has secured USD $30m (£22.8m) in a Series A funding round.
The funding round was led by Eight Roads, with Chalfen Ventures and current investors Backed, Point-Nine, and Otium Capital, and comes only a few months after the start-up announced a USD $7.5m (£5.7m) seed.
Founded in 2018, Amenitiz’s fully-integrated software platform allows hotels and B&Bs to run day-to-day operations, such as guest management, invoicing, and communication. Amenitiz’s platform also hosts a website builder and a channel manager, helping independent hotels and guest houses to manage third-party platforms where their property may be advertised (e.g. booking.com, Expedia etc), in addition to connecting customers to third party software tools for any extra requirements they may have.
The funding secured in this Series A round will be used to expand Amenitiz’s presence in Europe, and enhance its product offering. The Barcelona-based start-up also has plans to develop its team, planning to grow from 150 people to about 350 by the end of 2022.
Speaking to TechCrunch, Amenitiz’s CEO, Alexandre Guinefolleau, said, “When we raised our seed round with Point-Nine, we did it with very specific goals in mind. We wanted to build our internationalisation playbook with the opening of Spain and Italy, launch AmenitizPay to simplify the way our hotels manage payments and start recruiting some strong leadership while also scaling the team (which we have done from 30 to 150 employees in 2021).
“With all those boxes ticked and seeing strong investor interest, we decided that now would be a good time to accelerate, raise another round and keep scaling in Europe.”