(B) I had the opportunity to attend one of the sessions of the Stanford School of Engineering
speaker series on European Entrepreneurship and to listen to the flamboyant Loic Lemeur CEO of Seesmic and founder of LeWeb. In his talk, Loic echoed the same points that Rodrigo Sepulveda did in a very good interview from TechCrunch about the French start-up market. And having some exposure both to Silicon Valley and to Europe myself, I can echo the same key points as well (but in a very different flavor):
Europe lacks a vibrant M&A and IPO markets
To the exception of the UK, most of Europe is lacking a vibrant M&As and IPO markets. Successful US technology companies provide very profitable exits to their venture investors. This lead to a cycle where more money is invested and more start-ups are created. In Europe, public traded companies are not ready to value leading-edge companies as much as in the US and to acquire them to grow their businesses.
The European market is still very much fragmented
A large homogenous market has made the US such a driving force to create wealth and that what is making China also such a driving force to create wealth. There is room for any company for any industry in the US to grow and to leverage later that growth in Europe and Asia. In Europe, start-ups have to overcome the differences in terms of markets, regulations, and labor for each country. Both US and Chinese companies can scale very rapidly giving them a sizable advantage over European companies.
The myth of the US hero entrepreneur
In the US and particularly in Silicon Valley, the myth of the hero technology entrepreneur is attracting the best minds to the industry. While the old team of entrepreneurs Steve Jobs, Scott McNealy, Bill Gates, and Larry Ellison is starting to retire, a new team Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, and Mark Pincus is starting to shine. Europe does not appreciate its entrepreneurs as much as the US does.
Over time, multiple generations of entrepreneurs create multiple technology waves
This is the reason why Silicon Valley is so ahead of Boston, New York, Raleigh, Seattle, Denver or Austin in the US as a technology economy and so ahead of Europe. Entrepreneurs are creating over their lifetimes’ multiple companies and investing in multiple companies.
Silicon Valley is a big campus from San Francisco to South San Jose
This makes Silicon Valley the place to be for the Internet and the computing industry. Silicon Valley companies can find venture funding, hire employees, partner with other companies and acquire or be acquired.
But…while the Europeans are enjoying a shorter work week and the US has a deteriorating education system…
Incredibly talented, energetic and focused Amy Chua and other Tiger Moms are producing the prodigies of tomorrow in business, technology, and the arts. But it seems that Tiger Moms can be found more in Asia than in both the US and Europe giving tomorrow edge to Asia over both the US and Europe.
C’est la vie!
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