Prediction: Tech Will Be Bigger than Banking in London
I rang in 2013 in London, pausing for champagne in the midst of a whirlwind week of meetings. I’m calling it: within the decade, tech is going to be as big as banking in London -- perhaps bigger. London is creating the ideal conditions for technology to blast off. Here’s how I see each facet of a perfect tech ecosystem falling into place in London:
- Great Britain has fared the global recession fairly well. While continental Europe fights to save itself from the financial abyss, London is wasting no time getting ahead. There is a race to claim the title of “Technology Capital of Europe,” and London is going all out to win it.
- There are a ton of rich people in London. As soon as people earn a few hundred thousand dollars in San Francisco, they feel compelled to start investing in startups. In London, it is simply not expected or “trendy” to be an angel investor. That will change.
- London already has four significant technology projects under way. I would put money on the success of all four. These are big, big ventures that are going to draw a lot of talent. For this reason, I believe that technology is going to grow to dwarf banking in terms of employment within the decade. Tech is just getting started.
- London is fricking HUGE. If you are an American and have never been to London, go. It will blow you away. It is awesome. It is made up of foreigners, millions of them, from all around the world -- all excited to be in a city of awesome opportunity.
- It’s the American Invasion. Americans are flooding into London. Google just signed a new 1m sqft development at Kings Cross. Amazon, Facebook, Airbnb, and Uber all have offices in London and are growing teams there. With these American companies comes their passion for tech.
The big city is getting smaller thanks to transportation. Public transportation is finally getting sorted out in London. With the big push from preparing for the 2012 Olympics, it looks like the city will have not just a good, but an awesome transportation system within the next couple years. Actually, I don’t know a city on London’s scale with a better one.
I am not a fan of politicians -- indeed, I think politics is a market ripe for technological disruption! -- but despite my reservations, I can see David Cameron’s coalition government taking action to support technology’s growth.
- The government is really promoting the small business sector. No longer does one have to be big, inefficient, and overpriced in order to win a government contract. Today, the government is actually targeting smaller, younger companies to fill their contracts.
- So far, taxes are looking sensible for entrepreneurs. Not so for France -- which I suspect will mean that many highly paid, creative tech people in London are going to be French speaking!
- The government is employing some people who really understand the sector. I’m very impressed by Joanna Shields’s recent appointment to Tech City Investment Organisation, and I think that Benjamin Southworth is another “non-politicalized” individual who is really passionate for all the right reasons.
The many corporates headquartered in London need innovation to stay relevant. San Francisco is thriving with corporates wanting to partner with startups on innovative new products and ideas. While I was in London, major retailer Jessops went bust and HMV went bust -- turns out that a tech firm called Amazon.com and an event called Christmas finally closed out these big brands’ long-foreseen demises.
And finally... RocketSpace is coming to London
RocketSpace is coming. I can’t wait to apply what RocketSpace has learned in San Francisco in London. We want to help London assemble all these elements that together can create a perfect tech ecosystem. RocketSpace fuels the technology economy -- it is what we do, it is what we are passionate about. We have so much to offer, so many budding entrepreneurs to help. The writing is on the wall in London -- the time is now. We’re dreaming big. See you there!
Image credit: Jelmer Rozendal