The Great Debate UK

Old Street is old news: Don’t shackle Europe’s tech start-ups

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–Irfon Watkins is CEO of Coull. The opinions expressed are his own.–

London Tech Week created some interesting conversations and predictions. The stand out being a claim from Oxford Economics that in the next decade London’s tech scene will increase by over 11,000 businesses, creating 46,000 new jobs and generating £12 billion. There are signs that London is on the verge of becoming Europe’s tech hub and that it may even overtake Silicon Valley. The calls for Europe’s tech talent to migrate have gone out. However, while the figures suggest this will bolster the city’s economy, it could end up doing more harm than good when it comes to Europe’s technology sector overall.

For me, bringing all of the Europe’s talent together in one city and placing them around one roundabout goes entirely against the new working world that technology has created. Isn’t it meant to be about “anywhere working”? Technology has allowed us to do meetings from home and secure billion dollar contracts while lying on a beach. Yet to be a successful start-up we’re now making out that you have to be in London. Worse still, you have to be at Silicon Roundabout. It just doesn’t make sense.

Some of the most successful start-ups in the world were created in dorm rooms, basements and garages. They were created by people that were first focussed on getting their product, their team and the company’s culture right. Then, once they perfected that, they could look at location and office space. I know there are lots of opportunities to build teams in London, but I don’t believe we should be putting such an emphasis on telling the budding young tech entrepreneurs of tomorrow that they have to be there. We should be encouraging them to focus on getting their ideas right before we push them into having an expensive presence in London. The new-age bedroom entrepreneur can’t afford the high rents in East London.

To grow a business you need  to talk to customers. Learn what they’re looking for, what they think is working and what isn’t, then refine your product. You don’t have to be in one place to do this. You can do it far more effectively, and at a global level, using technology to connect you. Despite what you hear, don’t spend all your nights out in the right places self-congratulating yourself with peers. It’s just a distraction. I’ve been to too many start-up events in the last year and just found myself rubbing shoulders with peers, not customers.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Yellen’s remarkably unremarkable news conference – and why it’s a good thing

Yellen holds a news conference following two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting at the Federal Reserve in WashingtonJohn Maynard Keynes famously said that his highest ambition was to make economic policy as boring as dentistry. In this respect, as in so many others, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is proving to be a loyal Keynesian.

Yellen’s second news conference as Fed chair conveyed no new information about the timing of future interest rate moves. She gave no hints about an “exit strategy” for the Fed to return the $3 trillion of bonds it has acquired to the private sector. She told us nothing about the Fed’s expectations on inflation, employment and economic growth -- not even about the board’s views on financial volatility, regulation, asset prices or bank credit policies.

Britain’s 8 million renters are a key electoral battleground

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–Stephen Evans is a former Senior Policy Advisor for HM Treasury and Director of Employment and Skills at Working Links. The opinions expressed are his own.–

Estate agents boards are lined up outside houses in south London June 3, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew WinningEstate agents boards are lined up outside houses in south London June 3, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew WinningAsking prices for London houses have risen by £80,000 since the start of 2014 according to Rightmove. A three-bedroom house in London increases in value more each day than the average Londoner earns, a sobering thought on your daily commute. These are just the latest startling figures on house prices, particularly in London and the South East, prompting concern from Mark Carney and all three major political parties.

from The Great Debate:

Obama’s impossible choices on Iraq

Volunteers who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants, chant slogans in Baghdad

Iraq was a bold U.S. experiment in nation-building. It turned out to be a flop.

That's what we're learning as we watch what the United States achieved there evaporate after nine years of war, after nearly 4,500 Americans were killed, 32,000 wounded and $800 billion in U.S. taxpayer money spent.

from The Great Debate:

What’s happening in Iraq? Some smart takes to help figure it out.

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The Iraq created in large part by the United States after the 2003 invasion appears to be collapsing.

The U.S. military disabled Saddam Hussein’s forces in short order. Then the straightforward part of the war ended. The American-led Coalition Provisional Authority made some fateful choices soon after Saddam’s government collapsed: to disband the Iraqi Army -- one of Saddam’s main methods of keeping the nation together -- and remove all Baathists from the government. Since the Baathists previously had a monopoly on power, they were the only ones who knew how to keep the country running.

from Breakingviews:

Brazil’s companies need soccer team’s global clout

By Dominic Elliott

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Brazil’s corporate squad pales beside its soccer stars. The country’s national football side has unquestioned world-class quality in almost every position on the pitch. Yet if there were a World Cup for businesses, Brazil would struggle to get past the group stage.

Confessions of a mobile shopaholic

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–Martha McKenzie-Minifie is Editor of International Consumer Economics and Ian Bright is Senior Economist at ING. The opinions expressed are their own.–

In the 2009 film Confessions of a Shopaholic, Rebecca Bloomwood remembers herself as an enchanted seven-year-old, watching shoppers hand over their credit cards and walk out of the store with new shoes, dresses and other shiny, sparkly splurges: “They were beautiful, they were happy. They didn’t even need any money. They had magic cards.”

The Banking Standards Review Council has the potential to make a difference

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–Tim Dolan is a Partner in the Financial Markets team in King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin’s London office. The opinions expressed are his own.–

With the Financial Services Authority (FSA) already replaced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), what use does the UK have for another new financial sector body, the Banking Standards Review Council?

from Breakingviews:

Investors cheer for Brazil World Cup rout

By Rob Cox

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

At the opening of the Confederations Cup in Brasilia a year ago, President Dilma Rousseff was booed by thousands of soccer fans for all of Brazil to see. It’s easy to understand then why she isn’t planning to speak at Thursday’s opening ceremony of the World Cup. An embarrassing turn as host of Earth’s biggest sporting event - or crushing repeat of the 1950 Maracanaço - may be the greatest obstacle to her clinching a second term.

from The Great Debate:

Bergdahl reveals the impossible choices faced by hostages’ families

U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl waits in a pick-up truck before he is freed at the Afghan border

The furor surrounding the exchange of five Taliban prisoners for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl this week has exposed the murky world -- and impossible choices -- of the families of Americans taken captive by militants.

Demands for vast ransoms or for prisoner releases put these families in the excruciating position of seeming to be able to save a loved one’s life. Meet demands and your beloved lives. Hesitate and carry responsibility for their death to your grave.

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