Facebook chief targets UK acquisitions


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The Independent Online

Facebook may soon be getting its chequebook out for a UK start-up after a leading executive said it was looking at acquiring talent to beef up its mobile expertise.

Julien Codorniou, head of Facebook’s gaming and app partnerships across Europe, said: “Anywhere you see mobile talent, we see opportunities.

“In the UK we’ve done a few talent acquisitions. We look at many, many opportunities.”

Facebook was last month linked to a deal to acquire London-based artificial intelligence company DeepMind, which was eventually snapped up by Google for £400m.

Oxford-based games developer NaturalMotion was also recently acquired by US gaming giant Zynga in a £317m takeover. Deals such as these are known as acqui-hires, where talented developers are bought into a company through a buyout of their start-up.

Facebook is sitting on an $11bn cash pile, giving it ample resources to buy-in talent, and Mr Codorniou said that London was a one of five hotspots for mobile app development in Europe.

Mr Codorniou singled out London-based event booking app YPlan a “a very important partner” and tipped SpaceApe, the developer behind games such as Samurai Seige, as a promising UK start-up.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has taken great pains to transform the social network into a ‘mobile first’ company and last week Facebook launched a new standalone smartphone app called Paper.

Mr Codorniou, who helps companies build on Facebook or integrate it into their apps, echoed Mr Zuckerberg’s focus, saying: “Most of the companies we work with are mobile first or mobile only. It’s very, very mobile. “

Last month Mr Zuckerberg reported that almost half the people who use Facebook now do so from their smart phones, while mobile advertising income now makes up 53 per cent of all ad revenue.

Mr Codorniou predicted that this year online shopping would be transformed by smartphones: “The first industry to be disrupted by mobile was gaming and the next will be e-commerce.”

Meanwhile, a London start-up that lets small businesses avoid steep fees when exchanging currency has raised over £5m in funding, as the UK’s alternative finance industry continues to gather momentum.

Kantox has raised €6.4m from French venture capital firm Partech Ventures, Spanish investment firm Cabiedes & Partners and existing investor FXStreet. The start-up, headquartered in the heart of the City of London by Bishopsgate, provides a platform for small and medium businesses to exchange foreign currency at a cheaper rate than offered by banks.