November 16, 2014
Picture the most influential city in the world. What do you see? Lots of job opportunity? A media hub? A financial powerhouse? Which city is it? Most Americans would argue passionately for New York City, and for good reason. New York is home to major stock exchanges, large corporations and great diversity. However, according to Forbes, New York comes in second place on the list of most influential cities. Who owns the top spot? Well, according to Forbes, it’s London.
Lead researcher, Joel Kotkin, justified his decision with the following explanation:
“London is not only the historic capital of the English language, which contributes to its status as a powerful media hub and major advertising centre, but it’s also the birthplace of the cultural, legal and business practices that define global capitalism”.
On top of the cultural, media, and financial contributions of London, its embrace of technology and the role it plays in the city has also been a major contribution to its influential status. London is experiencing a tech boom, and is being hailed as Europe’s top technology startup hub.
At first it may be difficult to understand why London would be a key tech spot, but one of its biggest advantages is its location. Its proximity between the United States and Asia make it a great spot for international expansion. Also, it acts as a port for US tech companies looking to enter Europe, and for European countries who want to scale their business before expanding into the States.
For the moment, the Britain tech industry is growing at a faster rate than Silicon Valley, which is home to some of the biggest tech firms in the world. And while Silicon Valley is still the king of tech, London is quickly becoming a digital powerhouse. The London tech industry is expected to pump somewhere near £12 billion into the economy over the next decade.
Many mock the idea that London could ever compare to Silicon Valley, joking that Silicon spends more than £12 billion a year on snacks alone. But all joking aside, the numbers are showing that London’s tech boom is more than just hype.
This year, two London companies sold for around £1 billion. There are currently more than 3,000 tech firms in east London, employing up to 50,000 people in the digital economy. In fact, the tech sector has played a crucial role leading London’s economic recovery, accounting for 27 percent of new job creation. Here are a few examples of what to expect from The Square Mile, with startups ranging from big data analysis to cloud computing.
Launched in 2010, Geckoboard is real-time visualisation tool-set that allows businesses to see all of their data, like web analytics and sales figures, in one place. Users can connect to the services they use daily and pull the data right to a personal dashboard.
Taavet Hinrikus, skype’s first employee, and Kristo Käärmann founded TransferWise in 2011. It’s a peer-to-peer currency exchange that allows customers to wire money to one another without having to pass through banks. TransferWise avoids bank commision charges and thus offers more affordable options.
Pusher offers cloud-based services that allow developers to design and build complex web and mobile apps. Users can add interactive and engaging features to their apps and build anything from from live dashboards to second screen apps.
Launched in 2010, Housebites is looking to become the alternative to take-out. Housebites offers a service that arranges for a local professional chef to cooks meals of your choice, and then have them delivered to your doorstep.
Founded by Azeem Azhar, a former business correspondent for the Economist, PeerIndex is a social analytics business, which maps out social media. It uses an algorithm to identify and rate social influencers.
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