A Vote for Brexit is a Vote Against Tech Startups
The debate is raging. Should the UK stay a part of the European Union or say goodbye and forge a path on its own? For me, the answer is absolutely stay. As the CEO of a tech startup dually headquartered in London and San Francisco, access to the European Union is critical. Here at MOVE Guides 21% of our full London team and 60% of our product and engineering team are non-UK European Union citizens.
I founded MOVE Guides in London for just this reason. Well, for three main reasons — timezone, connectivity and talent. It’s our mission at MOVE Guides to make it easy to move around the world because we think it makes the world a better place. Therefore, we are a global business with dual headquarters that bring us both the international dynamism of London and the expertise in enterprise software from Silicon Valley. This gives me a unique lens into both ecosystems.
We based our product and engineering team in London because of the talent we can attract from both the UK and the European Union. The talent is excellent, loyal and about 30% less cost than in Silicon Valley. Different than engineering hubs in other parts of the world, it also shares a language, culture, legal framework and easy flight pattern that other engineering hubs lack. As we fill our San Francisco headquarter with product, services and sales teams, it’s been pretty easy for them to work with our UK engineering team. We will eventually build an engineering team in San Francisco too, and I think the ease will continue.
We based our finance team in the UK because of the expertise in international currencies, foreign exchange and the growth of the wonderful FinTech ecosystem. International finance and payments expertise is required in our business (we manage payments between our enterprise customers and a supply chain of certified partners that spans 60 countries).
I split my time between London and San Francisco, benefiting from convenient flight schedules and easy travel on modern 777s. Our leadership team is split between both locations and benefits from similar travel efficiencies.
All of these things have made MOVE Guides into a successful global business, and reinforces my belief that London holds a unique competitive advantage as a global startup hub. Startups, or Scaleups, like MOVE Guides create jobs for UK. Our success also reinforces London’s place as the second startup ecosystem — next to Silicon Valley — and continues to attract further investment in the UK and more startups to create jobs for the UK. It is a mutually reinforcing ecosystem.
And so with a vote for Brexit, it is not just the access to the single market for goods and services, the free trade agreements with Canada and South Korea, the 2M Brits who live in the EU, the 200+ treaties that must be unwound, removing the UK from the EU security pacts, or the huge uncertainty and almost unquestionable drop in the pound that worries me. It is the talent that the UK will be shutting its door to. If this talent goes, I believe the technology ecosystem will diminish — and with it, the potential for job creation, many new innovations and a growing technology ecosystem in the UK will be eliminated. That is why I believe that being a part of the EU is good for the UK, good for the world (including Silicon Valley, who benefits from another successful tech ecosystem abroad), and good for everyone graduating from universities around Europe today.