Britain is increasingly skilled at turning its brainpower into thriving tech firms. But these tend to end up in the arms of the American giants e.g. SwftKey >> MSFT ($250m); DeepMind >> Google ($600m) and VocalIQ >> Apple. Nonsense some say.
“I think there’s definitely an issue in Britain, and with technology companies in particular, of thinking that the route to success is being bought by a larger — usually American — company,” says Matt Warman, Conservative MP for Boston and Skegness, and a former technology journalist. The digital economy has a built-in tendency towards monopoly, due to the network effects that entrench market advantage. Yet the firms doing the monopolising seem always to be American. They have the so-called Fangs — Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google. We get a selection of stubby molars. What is the explanation? Partly, it is about culture. London is now Europe’s largest tech hub, with more than half of the continent’s unicorns. But a recent report noted that in comparison to other hubs, London “lacks a fully authentic entrepreneurial spirit”.