All go at the Silicon Roundabout

Silicon Roundabout AKA Old Street Roundabout

During the 1980s I used to cycle from Bow across Old Street Roundabout to my work in Farringdon. It’s still not much to look at, but the tech firms based nearby gave it the new name of Silicon Roundabout. Since the 2016 leave vote investment into British tech firms has doubled. It was £9bn in 2019. Quite a bit of that has been invested 2.8 miles west of the Bow Idea Store.

Chaos at Silicon Roundabout. Immarsat occupy the building behind the bus. They provide satellite communications networks which power the mobile internet.

Saul Klein, the investor behind Skype, and many more says: “London’s got 45 unicorns.” That means technology start-up’s worth more than $1bn each. He said that Oxbridge has nine, Manchester five, Amsterdam six and Berlin has ten. Klein went on to say: “So not only is the UK light years ahead of the rest of Europe and Israel, across every dimension, even in the last five years its lead has just been accelerating.” He said that alongside the huge talent pool, the UK is well respected for the rule of law, democracy and governance, which he emphasised.

I used to manage a big professional photographic lab and studios in Farringdon. The way we used to work – shooting on film, developing, and sending prints out on motorbikes was swept away long ago. It’s great to see that something much better, and way more profitable has moved into the area.

A report by consultants GP Bulldog wrote, ” “With 102 tech start-ups fast approaching a billion-dollar valuation it looks like the prospect for Brexit Britain is strong.” What this means is that these new companies have attracted huge sums of investment before they’ve created anything that they can sell. Everybody is banking on the fact that more projects will be amazingly successful than those which fade away. If they get it right they can sell-out for crazy sums of money, feeding more cash into the next generation of start-ups. London is the home to a huge number of creative and ambitious tech entrepreneurs. Success breeds success.

Improbable is based here at 10 Bishops Square
Improbable is based here at 10 Bishop’s Square. Behind the camera are the food stalls on Spitalfields Market. it’s currently valued at about £1.5 billion.

An early Silicon Roundabout success story was TweetDeck (which I once used to use). In 2008 Ian Dodsworth started it off from his home in Sussex. He then attracted £300k in investment and moved to Silicon Roundabout with 15 staff. By 2010 it was accounting for 10% of Tweets. In May 2011 Twitter bought the company for £25 million.

London’s thriving tech companies have been fanning out across town. Apple will have 1,400 employees based near Battersea Power Station in 2021. I read that Facebook is based in Fitzrovia, close to Snapchat, Netflix and Instagram. Google’s European HQ near King’s Cross will house 4,000 staff. These are not exactly minimum waged jobs!

In November Mimecast, a cybersecurity company, signed a lease on 79,000 square feet of offices in Broadgate.

A recent article in The Telegraph said that in terms of start-ups per capita, Britain now beats the United States. Six of Europe’s top 20 universities are within 60 miles of London. The article in the Telegraph said: “The world’s largest technology fund, run by Japan’s Softbank, with $100bn to invest, set up shop in Mayfair last year. Seedtable have just published an article called 111 London Startups to Watch in 2020.

Have you ever wondered who’s partying at Hackney Wick – or in Shoreditch? Who those fit young joggers are that you see running round Victoria Park? This article describes some of your new neighbours.

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