Shoreditch is no Palo Alto. For all David Cameron’s declared intention to boost London’s role as a world-class “Tech City”, we don’t yet have the scale of available investment of Valley firms such as Kleiner Perkins, nor the entrepreneurial confidence that created multi-billion businesses such as Yahoo and Zynga.
There are, for sure, a bunch of London tech firms that may one day be sold or go public at a billion-pound valuation — fast-growth businesses such as Wonga, Mind Candy and Badoo. And we certainly attract the international talent that favours London as a startup base — which is why Skype and Spotify are based here rather than in Scandinavia. But the Valley is still way ahead in terms of value creation. What’s it got apart from sunshine that east London lacks?
For one, it’s still not very British to declare a brash intention to dominate the world with our entrepreneurial drive. The very name “Silicon Roundabout ” is self-mocking. “A roundabout doesn’t exactly evoke global clout,” says Jawbone creator Alexander Asseily, who last year returned to London after running his successful startup in the Valley.
Why must it be London? Why can’t they choose a place serviced by a good airport, e.g. Manchester or an airport which can be made good, e.g. Teesside and do what our Trade Min did over in Russia – create a tax-free and regulation suspending zone and a trade village near an ancient rural centre full of picturesque charm? That’s apparently, when Moscow can keep its hands off it, attracting a great deal of interest.