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back to article 'Untidy' Shoreditch just CONFUSES American techies - Olympic hub team

A leading American tech incubator is considering opening a British outpost on the site of the Stratford Olympics, The Register can reveal. Cambridge Innovations Center, once home to part of the Google team that designed Android, is in top-secret preliminary discussions with iCity, the company building a digital hub in a formerly …

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"There is no reason why this area shouldn't be the home of a new boom..

The outrageous cost of London in general? Having worked for companies where more was spent on my desk than my salary and generally the requirement for the company to be in London was specious at best - "we like to keep a close eye on employees". Well if you like to monitor employees perhaps you should be somewhere you don’t fuck off most of the time on networking and business lunches so I can spend an hour getting home rather than the two hours cos I've had to stay late so you can appraise me (guesswork) and the transport system has mostly shut down by the time you've sobered up enough to drive home having left your car here so the delivery man got a parking ticket.

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Re: "There is no reason why this area shouldn't be the home of a new boom..

That is why the economy of London has slumped hard in recent years, while that of Middlesbrough and similar cities has grown fast. Oh, wait, that is not true.

Although some companies will pay London costs because they do not know what they are doing, most pay because they believe it is worth it. For example, in London lots of people will have specialist skills in particular areas. Is the same true in Middlesbrough?

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Re: "There is no reason why this area shouldn't be the home of a new boom..

Conversely, there are lots of people with specialist skills in the rest of the country, who don't want to live in London because it stinks and it's hopelessly crowded.

I'm not even being snarky. Try living somewhere else for a couple of years then going back.

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Re: "There is no reason why this area shouldn't be the home of a new boom..

I probably wouldn't set up a business requiring lots of highly skilled people in Middlesborough. Two reasons for that, firstly, anyone who leaves school there with any sort of qualifications will have found a job somewhere else in the country, and secondly, people who can afford to decide where they want to live don't want to live there.

However, Cambridge for example is much cheaper than London, and there are plenty of highly skilled people attending the local university there, the same can be said for places near Oxford.

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Re: "There is no reason why this area shouldn't be the home of a new boom..

Special skills in Middlesbrough? Of course. Prostitution, drunken assault, theft, drug dealing and taxi driving. It's the new Liverpool.

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Anonymous Coward

Ugh, more nonsense

Incubators and campuses. Hipsters, apps and web services.

Meanwhile the real, actual productive technology work happens in Silicon Fen, Silicon Glen and the M3 corridor, it's just that the people and companies there aren't quite so fond of self promotion.

But don't let that stop you pouring money into the next cloud-sourced flatulence sharing app that's going to change the way we fart forever.

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Re: Ugh, more nonsense

Cambridge to Stratford is only 35 minutes on the Liverpool Street line, and there'll be a Cambridge Science Park station in 2015. Google will be at Kings Cross at the end of the other Cambridge line and may begin to form a sort of 'tech triangle'.

Might encourage Greater Anglia to upgrade their derelict rolling stock as well.

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FAIL

Re: Ugh, more nonsense

Nathan Barley, white courtesy phone.

Nathan Barley to the white courtesy phone, please.

Still, on the plus side it'll keep all the hipster twats in one place ...

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Re: Ugh, more nonsense

Your farting fixation aside, what the London start-up scene has going for it is that it's willing to take more risks (hence more failures), moves more quickly, and is better at self-promotion. Where it falls down are the countless start-ups that are aping existing successful ideas, but in different niche markets, or that are basically solving a problem nobody has - a problem not just confined to London companies.

On the other hand, the Cambridge scene has some tremendously intelligent academics attempting to commercialise their research. However, to generalise wildly, they're too risk-averse, slow-moving and mostly unable to articulate simply the benefits of their product to their markets. Hence very few companies succeed globally, despite the strength of their product. Being called "the best-kept secret on the internet" isn't meant to be a badge of honour. And they're equally susceptible to creating products that solve problems nobody has.

Now if some bright spark can figure out a way to combine the best aspects of these two technological hotbeds, then we're looking at a far more interesting proposition. Plus they have the advantage of being comparatively close to each other.

[I write from experience of working in both Cambridge and London software companies - as I've no direct experience of Silicon Glen or M3 corridor, I've chosen not to comment either way]

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ugh, more nonsense

The M3/M4 Corridor has two things.

1. Tech giants doing what they do. MS, IBM, various others, churning stuff out, making money, advancing the state of the art in some cases.

2. Small to medium sized companies employing mediocre engineers putting out uninteresting software that actually gets used in places and runs a hell of a lot of what goes on behind the scenes.

It's not exciting, social-media driven, startup-land, let's-hype-ourselves-and-get-bought stuff, but then AFAICT most of that is utterly worthless.

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Len
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Good news

I think it's perfect that finally at least SOMEONE is interested in iCITY. Let the Americans populate the former Olympic grounds while the rest of the world just keeps on basing their UK activity around Shoreditch.

It will be a few years before the Americans realise they willingly chose the short straw. At least iCITY won't be empty for a while.

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Re: Good news

You haven't been around Government sales projects long have you? The government is pushing Shoreditch hard so it is almost guaranteed to perform exactly opposite of how it was intended. Shoreditch will be the place where self important people/companies go so they can say 'look at me' while they blow all their money on fancy desks, in house yoga and fancy coffee.The real business will take place somewhere else and all the support services will follow. Unless the government is your primary/only customer never take their business advice...

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Anonymous Coward

I can feel the holistic synergy

(body)

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Re: I can feel the holistic synergy

Yes, but have you harnessed that synergy?

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Happy

Re: I can feel the holistic synergy

ITYM 'leveraged' ;-)

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Re: I can feel the holistic synergy

ITYM 'leveraged' ;-)

I thought exactly the same thing before I'd scrolled down and read your comment.

PLEASE KILL ME NOW!!!!!! My life has no meaning any more, and I am merely an empty shell operated by management consultants. I guess it's time to start listening to Andrew Mason's moronic management musical motivational mashup to top me up with business wisdom as I slowly tick away the hours until the end of my worthless existence...

[...wanders off sobbing quietly...]

Still, on the bright side, at least my time working for a US multi-national appears not to have been totally wasted.

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Missing the point

I live in Stratford, and work in the City. The entire purpose of Shoreditch is that it is cheap, and close enough to the City that you can easily meet people in real companies. Stratford is cheap, but it's way too far away from the City for anyone to come see you. It might as well be Slough.

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Re: Missing the point

"Come friendly bombs, and fall on Stratford!"

Err...

Nah, doesn't work

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Re: Missing the point

Don't know in what context you're using 'closeness', but You can be in Canary Wharf in about 10 minutes from Stratford, ever heard of the Jubilee Line?

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Re: Missing the point

True, but Canary Wharf isn't The City. Stratford to Bank is 12 minutes ;-)

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Fai

Re: Missing the point

Stratford to Liverpool St is 7 minutes on the national rail lines if you want to start nitpicking!

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So...

So what is it exactly that all of the 1300+ CFOs and CIOs are actually producing that adds utility to the exsiting interweb or takes it forward somehow? Tell me it's not more social media, powerpoint driven clone crap?

It used to be that you registered a company and became the "Director". Now - it is seems that you register, rent a desk in some ex-warehouse and call yourself "CFO" or "CIO" or whatever fluffy Nathan Barley-esque title helps feed your own self esteem. The problem then comes in that you've spent too much time deluding yourself over your skinny-choca-mocha-lattes that your new idea is the most important "social media" thing in the history of the world - ever, with other pretend "CFOs and "CIOs" who also believe that their idea is the most important - ever... but missing the fundamental point that at no point is any business plan ever produced that actually shows me how your business (i.e. your rented desk) is going to make any money. Hence follows the lack of investment that you seem to think you are entitled to.

Whilst I have no doubt that there will be a few (read : very few) little gems discovered in the midst of all this hipster bullshit - the problem comes in that the benchmark of success seems to be "the discovery" of the next Amazon, Google or Twitter; or that business model holy grail is to be bought by one of these? Well I'm sorry to disappoint you all but those boats have already sailed long ago so you'll need to change your approach or go get a proper job.

But hey, Boris supports it so it's all good yah?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So...

Pretty much...Emperors new clothes all around.

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JLH
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Good idea - good comms

This is a damn good idea.

The Stratford site has excellent transport links of course (including the International station).

Also very good comms were put in for the Olympics - I remember meetign wto BT techs happily terminating rolls of CAt5 out in the sunchine in the Olympic Park during the Games.

I thought that the Olympic Press Centre was slated for use as high tech offices anyway?

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Re: Good idea - good comms

Upvoted - Americans are probably confused by the fact that Shoreditch has none of the tech you'd expect in an incubator hub.

Oh - but it does have some pigeon-crap encrusted repurposed Victorian sweatshops, so that's alright

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Mayor Boris Johnson said: "There is no reason why this area shouldn't be the home of a new boom in not just small startups, but mega companies. Why is it that this country hasn't produced an Amazon, a Google or a Facebook? I think there the answer is there is no reason. It’s going to happen and wouldn't be surprised if it happened in iCity."

Perhaps because "The City" rather than "iCity" pays developers (and many below-average ones at that) vastly more than any start up can afford to? So perhaps yet another 'technology hub' in London isn't appropriate?

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Also it's a numbers game.

The amount of startups created is huge in the US. And loads fail, but obviously some don't. But people aren't afraid to have a go.

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"Why is it that this country hasn't produced an Amazon, a Google or a Facebook?"

Because UK firms never offer shares as part of the package? They seem to expect employees to accept the risks of working for a start-up without any of the potential rewards.

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Also, the UK have some exceptionally talented engineers, but doesn't seem to fare so well at leaders. (cf the UK car industry, Rover in particular, and the rest that are mostly foreign owned and led)

That's where the US differs - they have some great inspirational leaders, and while some of their engineers may be mediocre - they can take the risk and fire them on the spot.

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too centralised already

The UK is already too centralised on London - we need to spread employment further afield, even if it is just M3/M4/M40 corridor

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The CIC incubator here in the States are a quality group; we rented space there at the last startup company about 6-7 years ago (which had nothing to do with clouds or hipsters, thank you.) There were a lot of small companies on the floor around us building all sorts of things, and the atmosphere was such that you could bounce ideas off each other which was helpful. There was plenty of common space for meetings, either for potential customers or for company meetings. The CIC management also had get togethers in the building, both for "meet and greets" as well as seminars. All in all, it was a very well run operation.

Ultimately that startup didn't make it, but without having an incubator to work from initially, to have to rent space and put all the building sorts of infrastructure together, our burn rate would have been so much higher.

Hopefully it will provide more employment opportunities for folks there, wherever they decide to put it!

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