Britain shows it can still draw in global talent

While this would seem to put to bed the most gloomy fears that Brexit would forever stunt Britain’s reputation as a place to do business, making sure this success lasts is a delicate balance.

For one thing, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit continues to loom large. Founders fear this could make hiring from European countries harder.

Another, most obviously, is the Covid-19 pandemic. With business travel at a standstill and the movement of talent, for university and work, under threat, can we expect such an array of founders in years to come?

Silicon Valley expats

“London is still a genuinely great place to be and the tech economy has grown over the last decade,” says Hussein Kanji, a partner at Hoxton Ventures, which has backed Deliveroo, Behavox and Kbox, whose founders featured on this year’s Tech Hot 100.

Kanji himself worked in the Bay Area before setting up a fund with Rob Kniaz in London in 2013. For Britain, he says, there has been a push and a pull factor bringing people to work in the UK.

Silicon Valley has long held the glamour of working for a Big Tech firm such as Apple or Google. Founders from across the US, India and Europe would set their sites on life in the Golden State. But the declining quality of life, political climate and cost of living is starting to put them off, and the pandemic is also causing many to reconsider their options. 

“The pandemic has been less than ideal in a lot of countries, but far less than ideal in the US,” Kanji says. “That has led people to consider relocating. San Francisco is horribly expensive. Wage inflation is high and it is a mess with wildfires.”

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