A few months after David Cameron proclaimed Tech City open for business, a friend in UK Trade and Investment’s NYC office mentioned they were seeing more UK tech companies contemplating US expansion. Did I have any interest, he asked, in speaking with them about what to consider when launching, scaling and fundraising in the States?
Thus began a labour of love that has allowed me – and will continue to allow me – to divide time between the peerless cities of London and New York, and to support the world’s best high-growth tech companies. There is no better place in the world to start a tech company than the UK, and no better place to which to expand than the US.
We’ve all heard the unflattering comparisons of London to Silicon Valley and the complaints that the UK lacks its Google or Facebook. Nonsense.
With all due respect to pre-2010 London pioneers like Songkick, Last.fm, Moo and others, it’s daft to compare a tech ecosystem that generated a mere $100 million in venture capital investment less than six years ago to the home of Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, NEA, and Sequoia. London nonetheless has emerged as the No. 2 startup ecosystem outside the US (behind only the much more mature Tel Aviv ecosystem), and the UK has 18 of Europe’s 47 unicorns. Six short years have increased VC investment to nearly $2.3 billion in 2015 and shifted the conversation around London tech from starting up to scaling up, from survival to sustainability, and from creation to growth.
The long list of UK tech mainstays that didn’t exist even four years ago includes London Technology Week, Second Home, Tech City UK Future Fifty, Upscale, Tech London Advocates, the London Co-Investment Fund, Tech North, Techstars London, WeWork London, Here East, Mayor’s International Business Programme, and London Stock Exchange ELITE. London also now has a critical mass of the core resources – talent, mentoring, funding, infrastructure, accelerators, government support – necessary to sustain a world-class tech ecosystem.
And because no discussion of UK tech is complete without addressing the events of 23 June: LocalGlobe’s pre-Brexit “12 Reasons to be Excited about London” would be equally true if written today.
I have long been humbled by the willingness of my friends in UK tech to accept a US lawyer in their midst, which made me all the more excited to join Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati this summer to make more accessible to the UK the network and expertise of the top US law firm for tech and venture. For those who prefer data-driven superlatives: WSGR annually represents more startups in their venture transactions than any other US law firm, and the firm’s summer 2016 tech M&A representations have included LinkedIn in its acquisition by Microsoft, NetSuite in its acquisition by Oracle, and Yahoo in its acquisition by Verizon.
WSGR is also thrilled to announce it is joining Notion Capital’s strategic partnership program to provide US support to its portfolio of market-leading B2B SaaS and cloud companies. We look forward to collaborating with London and the broader UK’s companies, investors, mentors, advisors, and government agencies to continue developing an unparalleled environment in which to live, work, and build world-class tech businesses.
Post produced in partnership with Daniel Glazer, Partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.