Star Tech offers UK investors share in Silicon Valley profits

Sunday, 7th May 2017

By James Titcomb - Sunday Telegraph


AN INVESTMENT firm plans to give Britons the chance to back Silicon Valley’s most high-profile companies before they go public.

Star Tech, founded by a group of investors, is raising $5m (£3.9m) to invest in the likes of Uber and AirBnB and it claims to be the first company of its kind in Britain to “democratise” investing in private technology firms, a field that is typically restricted to private equity and venture capitalists.

Tech companies have boomed in recent years and fetched enormous valuations when sold or listed. As start-ups waited longer to go public, a vibrant secondary market exists, allowing existing investors and staff to sell shares, but US law restricts who can buy them.

Star Tech has invested $1m of its founder’s money in companies including Spotify, Pinterest and Dropbox, and says it plans to list as a fund in Guernsey or float in London.

It is targeting wealthy investors and small institutions to raise funds and says while investors must be accredited under US securities law at first, this will lapse once it expands.

Star Tech is being led by Ian Wallis, a former tech investor and corporate finance executive, along with stockbroking veteran Malcolm Burne.

“The secondary market is a dynamic sector [in the US] and we’re scaling it to a UK and European audience that has been locked out”. Mr Wallis said. The company will invest in large, proven private tech companies where there was “less risk of failure”, he said.