Working with, not against Silicon Valley

Jennifer Arcuri explains how Boris could become the bridge between London and the Valley

The UK produces some amazing startups. So amazing that they keep getting snapped up by also amazing investors in Silicon Valley. That’s great – we WANT our talented tech startups to boom. But do they have to leave our shores to do it?

Wouldn’t it be better if they had the support, skills and investment they needed to grow right here, set up headquarters, and then expand out into great markets like Silicon Valley? And wouldn’t it be something if we could attract more West Coast tech startups to set-up shop in the East End?

Instead of competing with Silicon Valley (a bit like chalk competing with cheese), let’s change the conversation – let’s work with Silicon Valley. Let’s benefit both economies, pool talent, and create jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

“That’s great!” I hear you cry,

“But what’s Boris got to do with it?!”

I’m from Los Angeles. You may have noticed that we Americans love the Brits. We love Kate and William. We’d like to have tea with the Queen (no matter what anyone tells you). And, oh yeah, we think Boris is awesome. I’m serious.

Throughout the month of January I travelled around California meeting venture capitalists and CEOs of tech giants (including Google+ Mountain View) to talk about strengthening the relationship between the UK and Silicon Valley, in preparation for the InnoTech Summit.

The one thing they all wanted to talk about? Boris Johnson. The ‘Boris brand’ is huge in Silicon Valley. He is celebrated as a fierce, charismatic Brit, a person who drives change, a politician with personality. They want to engage with him.

The mayor’s first Google Hangout

Boris’ unique appeal in Silicon Valley makes him the ideal candidate to catalyse and foster relations between the East End and the West Coast.  Don’t believe me?

Do not adjust your monitors: Yes, Boris IS doing a Google Hangout with Silicon Valley

The InnoTech Summit coincides with Brit Week in California – a massive (you know we Americans like to do things ‘big’) affair that celebrates British businesses in the West Coast (that should be proof enough of our love for Brits).

On the day of the InnoTech Summit, after having addressed the attendees, Boris will settle down into a live Google Hangout with a crowd of venture capitalists, investors and top tech execs in Silicon Valley (as organised by Digital.L.A., a network of over 45,000 digital startups in Los Angeles), for one purpose – to promote the UK tech scene.

Now we all know that Boris is not going to win any prizes for tech know-how. He’s no tech geek. The Google Hangout at the InnoTech Summit will be his first. But, do you know what? It doesn’t matter. He’s doing it. And by doing so he’s raising the profile of the UK tech scene and strengthening the relationship between Silicon Valley and the UK.

This is part of the path to real change – attracting foreign investment, increasing awareness of our tech startups, promoting what the UK has to offer, and attracting the attention of venture capitalists.

And doing via a Google Hangout? Well apart from just being cool, it demonstrates that policy makers are behind those businesses contributing to the 8.4% of UK GDP internet economy.

Jennifer Arcuri is the founder of the InnoTech Summit, an event designed to accelerate the UK tech economy by bringing together tech entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers. It takes place at Level39, Canary Wharf on April 26th. Tickets cost £150. Click here to find out more information.