Ex-unicorn Ve Interactive has raised £15 million after a scandal-filled year

Ve Interactive Martin TonnesenVe InteractiveVe Global CEO Morten Tonnesen.

One-time advertising tech unicorn Ve Interactive has raised £15 million from its investors to aid its turnaround, after a turbulent year involving job cuts, a change of CEO, and near-insolvency.

Ve Global, as the company is now called, has raised the money from existing backers including Aston Ventures, which formed part of the firm’s buyout consortium in April.

A spokesman wouldn’t confirm investors by name, but said the backers comprised those who stuck around after Ve was rescued from administration. Apart from Aston Ventures, that included MyVoucherCodes.co.uk founder Mark Pearson and US investor Andy Astrachan.

Ve Interactive was a much-hyped British startup with a valuation pegged at more than $US1 billion (£753 million) and around 800 staff globally. Its cofounder and CEO, David Brown, refused to take venture capital investment, instead raising money from wealthy individuals. The firm imploded spectacularly earlier this year, when Ve was unable to make payroll and Brown stepped down.

The firm went into a pre-pack administration in April, and Aston Ventures teamed up with Mark Pearson to acquire the business. The new management then launched an investigation into Brown’s alleged use of Ve’s funds to prop up several other ventures. Brown also allegedly spent money on fine wines, high-end furniture from his office, and central London flats. Ve’s new owners went on to lay off a fifth of its UK workforce in June, according to The Financial Times.

The new management would like to forget about Ve’s past — though stories connected to cofounder Brown persist, with two businesses connected to both him and Ve also going into administration this month.

The new cash will go towards bolstering Ve’s global headcount, now at around 500. A spokesman said the firm now had the company to pursue key strategic hires. It will also expand beyond its core retail conversion products, and perhaps beyond digital advertising altogether. It also wants to expand into China and India.

When Ve’s new management put cost-cutting measures in place in June, the company moved to WeWork offices in Moorgate. But the firm will now move to the upmarket White Collar Factory workspace in Shoreditch, which features its own rooftop running track and also houses Adobe.

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