Monday, 30 December 2013

Backscratching: The Future Fifty

The Future 50

Today I stumbled across The Future Fifty, a government backed initiative designed to help support high growth companies by matching "qualifying companies" with "publicly funded schemes and incentives".

Now that sounds like a good thing to me.

Here's the thing though; I was browsing the companies on the list wondering how they were selected and I noticed that there seemed an unusual correlation between the constituents of the "Advisory Panel" (or to quote the FT, the "Independent Panel") and the companies on the list.  So I did a very quick online check against the Advisory Panel's companies' portfolios and the Future Fifty constituents and this is what I found;

Robin Klein, Partner at Index Ventures who have 12 companies on the list (Farfetch, Funding Circle, HouseTrip, Just Eat, Mimecast Services,,, Onefinestay, Photobox, Secret Escapes, SwiftKey) and Robin Klein sits on the boards of another 2 (Zoopla, Skimlinks)

Tim Bunting, Partner at Balderton Capital who have 5 companies on the list (Achica, HouseTrip, Medicanimal, Worldstores, Zopa)

Sonali De Rycker, Partner at Accel Partners who have 5 Companies on the list (Calastone, Hailo, Housetrip, Lyst, Mind Candy)

There are other links (e.g. Antony Clavel of Summit Ventures & Acturis, Jonathon Goodwin of PROFounders & &  but I got bored at this point and remembered I have proper work to do.

So What?

Eliminating double counts (e.g. HouseTrip is involved with Balderton, Accel and Index) this quick search showed direct links between the Advisory Panel and 23 of the 50 "qualifying companies".  I am fairly confident that a little more digging would find other links as this was just a quick piece of Google based research.

Now this means either;

  1. The Advisory Panel has been very well selected as they have direct links with roughly half of the companies in the UK that are most qualified to receive this support.  In fact Robin Klein alone has links with 14 of them, 28% of all "qualifying companies".

  2. The Advisory Panel is not "independent" but is biased towards companies they are involved with. This would mean that in finance and politics it's all about backscratching and who you know.

It's probably the first one.  I mean there's no way that this government would allow a bunch of well networked people to funnel exceptional governmental support towards companies in which they have a direct personal interest.  That just wouldn't happen. 

matches qualifying companies with publicly funded schemes and incentives relevant to their stage of growth and specific needs