Summary:

Bebo co-founder turned digital investor Paul Birch and Skype chairman Michael van Swaaij have invested “hundreds of thousands of pounds” in…

Crunch.co.uk

Bebo co-founder turned digital investor Paul Birch and Skype chairman Michael van Swaaij have invested “hundreds of thousands of pounds” in Crunch.co.uk, an accounting site for freelancers and contractors which launched in April.

The man behind the site is Darren Fell, who founded email marketing firm Pure and sold it for $7.8 million (£4.8 million). The release says the company was valued at £2 million before the deal and it charges £59.50 a month for its online accounting tool.

Van Swaaij plans to leave Skype and focus on Crunch and other ventures when (or perhaps if) eBay’s planned sale of its 65 percent stake in Skype to a private investor group for $1.9 billion goes through.

Birch says he’s backing the venture because of his own accounting frustrations as a freelancer and disappointment with accountancy firms that “use Excel spreadsheets as the mainstay of my interaction with them”. Birch invested £150,000 in mobile social network Wubud last year

It might be attractive to investors, but it’s far from the only online accounting site: Freeagentcentral.com, Kashflow.co.uk, Xero and Clearbooks.co.uk are just some of them. But by focusing on sole traders and freelancers, and with its all-too-appropriate name, Crunch.co.uk is trying to differentiate itself by targeting the thousands of people who have lost jobs in the recession and are looking to build self-employed careers.

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