What began as a spontaneous clustering of start-ups in London’s East End is turning into a global hub of the digital industry – as the government is branding Tech City. It seems to be working. Entrepreneurs I’ve been interviewing for a series of research projects report that government attention is bringing useful visibility and prestige.
The Shoreditch entrepreneurs affect a low-key, British approach, referring to the area as Silicon Roundabout – a reference to the ugly Old Street traffic circle at the heart of the area – but the multimillion pound success of companies such as Last.fm and Tweetdeck belies their modesty. Music website Last.fm was sold to CBS for £140m, and Tweedeck, an application developed to help users manage their Twitter feeds, was bought by Twitter for £25m earlier this year. The hope of the British government, like administrations the world over, is to create an environment that nurtures a home-grown Google or Facebook.
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