The Startups 100 award ceremony took place on April 12th in London, where music streaming service Spotify was crowned the winner. The award was presented by tech blog TechCrunch Europe editor (and one-time Apprentice star) Mike Butcher, who was one of the judges and thus, apparently, aware of the result before it was revealed. But yesterday, Butcher wrote a confess-all blog, accusing the organisers of the awards of misleading the public. ‘Spotify didn’t win the Startup 100 awards’, he wrote, pausing dramatically. ‘[Short-term money-lending website] Wonga did.’ So there you have it. Allegedly.
If the allegations are true, what could possibly have caused such wickedness? Butcher accuses the Telegraph, the awards’ media sponsor, of putting pressure on the organisers to avoid listing Wonga as the winner. ‘I’ve learned from sources that it was a conversation inside the newspaper that allegedly vetoed Wonga’s win, based on its high profile as a short term money lender,’ he says.
Wonga has attracted controversy for, amongst other things, its high APR rates (at the moment, it’s 4,214% - although these figures are a bit misleading since they’re very specifically not meant to be long-term loans). But would the Telegraph really engage in such dastardly behaviour? It appeared to say not in a response to Butcher’s blog, suggesting the decision was all down to the event’s organisers.
Judging by some of the comments on the story, though, some people wouldn’t have been particularly impressed by either result. ‘Neither of these two businesses is a real start-up,’ pointed out one. That’s probably an argument for another day…