I am more on Fred’s side in this debate. Although European entrepreneurship does need a lot of support to realise its full potential, the industry is barely a decade old and a comparison with Silicon Valley, even in the best of times, is unfair and possibly off the mark.
In his critique, Dave seems to have overlooked a thriving angel community in Cambridge, UK and a very substantive eco-system that is being built up – particularly in London, where several of the names that he has mentioned in his post are present in strength.
That said, the ecosystem is not as robust as the Valley – but then Europe has not gone through the multiple cycles yet and the industry is still maturing.
What does this mean for entrepreneurs in Europe?
One, things are changing – and changing very rapidly – for the better.
Two, there are sectors within technology where Europe has a pre-eminent position –such as wireless, mobile, broadband, smartcards and med-tech (and to some extent new materials). If you are in any of these areas, you are probably better off being in Europe at the moment.
Even if you are not, with the communication tools available today (and the falling cost of air travel), there is no reason for you not to consider Europe as the base for your company. In truth, most successful companies of tomorrow will have to be multi-location…and Amsterdam, Paris or London are probably as good as (and culturally more richer than) Sunnyvale, San Jose or even San Francisco for your company’s headquarters.
But then, I forget anti-smoking laws, which, in Robert Scoble’s opinion, will be the real reason that entrepreneurs move to San Francisco!