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London tech's 'Monster' ambitions

posted 12 May 2011, 10:40 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 12 May 2011, 10:43 ]
East London-based technology companies are winning global attention for their products and services, offering hope to Euro-centric investors.
NEXT TECH SUCCESSES - You see it in the deals. You hear it in the talk.

Chad Hurley, YouTube co-founder speaking in October 2010 saying):

"I don't think you necessarily need to be in the Silicon Valley in the future to be successful."

European governments are competing to build tech hubs that emulate the Silicon Valley model.

But from where serial entrepreneur and angel investor Alex Hoye is sitting, there's only credible alternative and he's got a bird eye view.

 Alex Hoye, Angel investor and serial entrepreur, saying

"If I look beyond Silicon Valley, I think that London is the natural second centre of the world and it's got unique advantages that Silicon Valley doesn't. It is inherently international. It draws from a base of consumers of 500 million people that's actually bigger than the U.S. if you look at all of the EU. And it's has the language base that allows companies that I'm involved in like Skimlinks and BraveNewTalent to access America."

Cracking America was once the preserve of British music acts looking to make it big...and you'll remember that involved a rather unthreatening invasion. Many of today's English tech entrepreneurs seem happy plan global domination from home turf.

Take Mind Candy. The company behind the kids social gaming community Moshi Monsters has just moved into new offices in East London's Tea Building. CEO Michael Acton Smith has big ambitions.

Michael Acton Smith, Mind Candy CEO and founder saying:

"So our vision is to build the most successful kids entertainment property of the digital age. So we want to build a franchise like Star Wars, Harry Potter or Pokemon. We think that's a huge opportunity."

Cash flow positive since 2009, Moshi's recent move into the world of physical goods such as plush toys, collectable figurines and magazines has proved a hit. Acton Smith estimates digital and physical sales will

total around 100 million dollars this year. He believes the idea first sketched out on this napkin in 2007 could turn into a billion dollar business - or multiples thereof.

Michael Acton Smith, Mind Candy CEO and founder saying:

"So I think there are a lot of entrepreneurs in Europe that don't have quite the same ambitions that bubble around in Silicon Valley and are happy to sell out for tens of millions of pounds, or even low hundreds, which is a great exit but this is an extraordinary moment in history. The internet is so revolutionary. We think there's a massive opportunity there - a multibillion dollar business."

Tweetdeck's CEO Iain Dodsworth has been mum about the rumour that his company was acquired by Twitter, but says there has been lots of interest.

Iain Dodsworth, Tweetdeck CEO saying

"All of that has been U.S., concentrated mostly in Silicon Valley."

Hoye says the success of Moshi Monsters and Tweetdeck will help bring even more attention this way.

Alex Hoye, Angel investor and serial entrepreur, saying

"And it's a great sign that a small tight-knit team based right here on this roundabout can actually impact the world."

Or as one eminently quotable investor recently remarked, you don't need to be in Silicon Valley...but Silicon Valley needs to be in you.

Matt Cowan, Reuters.