EU Tech Stocks and markets — or, will there be a Euroean Silicon Valley?

The WSJ wrote an article this week, pointing out that Amsterdam is the leading EU-exchange for tech stocks. This may seem surprising, but actually makes sense. London’s AIM and Germany’s Deutsche Börse are notoriously low-liquidity for tech stocks. There are very few scenarios one can imagine where listing on either of those larger exchanges is a good choice. Amsterdam, however, is not only home to the world’s first stock market, they’re also a surprisingly successful hub for tech start-ups. But curiously, they’re nowhere near the best place in Europe for private money. According to DealRoom, there are 235 Series-A VCs in the UK145 in Germany, and only 71 in the Netherlands. And the ones in the Netherlands rank far lower on DealRoom’s “prominence” index. Initially, this seems odd, but then again, Silicon Valley is where the VCs are and New York is where the NASDAQ is, so, does it matter? Given this, where should you put a startup in Europe? Is London going to be Europe’s Silicon Valley? The magic of Silicon Valley comes from the density — the cluster of venture capital and super-smart entrepreneurs, that started by spinning out of, naturally, silicon companies. Intel was the spark. Then there was HP. Sun. Oracle. Xerox PARC. All of this decades before Google, nevermind Facebook and Twitter. On the one hand, the failure of RTP, Austin, New York, Tel Aviv, or Singapore to replicate Silicon Valley points to its strength. On the other hand, the clear success of all of those cities in building startup ecosystems makes it clear that, while Silicon Valley might be king of the hill, it’s definitely not the only one playing the game. And Europe is different. From any one of Berlin, Amsterdam, or London, I can get to any of the others in under 2 hours. Door-to-door on the clock, they’re about the same distance apart as San Francisco and LA — maybe closer. If Europe doesn’t destroy its future through regulation, I think there’s a real chance that these nascent startup scenes can continue to blossom and become serious, global competitors. On the other hand, the UK really wants to do something post Brexit. The momentum is on the Continent’s side, and I would argue the culture is better in Amsterdam than any of these other places, but London gets to take it’s shot. Either way, it will be fun to watch how things evolve over the next decade.

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Chris Richardson has strong opinions on just about everything. Just ask.