Feeds

How's Cameron's favourite Shoreditch startup doing? Oh.

Last.fm scrobbled deeper into debt

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

If Cameron and his Number 10 advisors are to believed, the future of the British economy powered by Shoreditch web startups is going to be so bright, we'll all need sunglasses. The Conservatives have sought to promote Old Street's webtastic firms as epitomes of entrepreneurship.

So how are they faring? Let's look at one that was singled out by David Cameron in his 2010 speech extolling Silicon Roundabout - Last.fm. “Brought to you by 70 passionate kids from our office in East London, we play our part in changing the way music is discovered and enjoyed, forever," Last.fm boasts on its website. "Hey, someone’s got to do it.”

According to the company's accounts, Last.fm's losses increased in 2010, the last year for which records are publicly available. The annual loss grew from £2.89m in 2009 to over £5m in 2010. That was on a turnover of just £7.992m in 2010 (2009: £7.283m). Administrative expenses increased from £2.95m to over £8m.

A year ago, the Guardian suggested that Last.fm was moving "closer to profit" - but that isn't evident in the financials. It's moving in the opposite direction.

US broadcaster CBS acquired Last.fm for £280m in 2007 and treats it (somewhat generously) as a 'going concern'.

Cameron meets a Shoreditch nontrepreneur

David Cameron wants more successes like Last.fm, channelling funding via the Business Department to the controversial quango Tech City UK, which promotes webby startups. TCUK has burned through £1.79m so far - including over a million on administrative expenses.

"Tech City sends a message about the whole of the UK,” said Cameron in November.

Mind you, so do those accounts. Last.fm has accumulated debts of £29m over its lifetime.

Since the mid-1970s, when it broke away from the post-war consensus, the Conservatives have been wary of industrial intervention - of using taxpayer money to promote loss-making industries. Back then it was British Leyland - today it's nontrepreneurs. Is the Conservatives' 21st Century industrial policy really got any wiser? ®

Bootnote

This isn't the complete picture, of course. Just as with a pyramid scheme, the first in (and first to bail) can prosper. Angel investor Stefan Glaenzer reportedly made £22m from the sale of Last.fm and the co-founders £19m each.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
10 Top Tips For PRs Considering Whether To Phone The Register
You'll Read These And LOL Even Though They're Serious
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.