As Facebook and Amazon join the London movement, are we about to lose our talented tech developers before they’ve even had a chance to work their magic.
The UK has never been able to produce the kind of technology heavyweights that the US has churned out, but it appears that Britain still holds onto a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ that attracts the behemoths.
Four months after Google landed in London, Facebook and Amazon have decided that the capital is the place for them and have each announced plans to set up there.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook is setting up its first engineering centre outside of the US, with London being described as a ‘perfect fit for Facebook engineering’ by Philip Su, a software engineer at the social media company.
With these two recent developments, London is now a base for three of the biggest digital companies in the world.
Both businesses cite London as a location which is a hotbed for technological talent, and it appears that the driving factor behind locating in the city is to attract (or steal) the kind of talent that has seen the rapid growth of East London’s Tech City.
While both companies are staying outside Tech City itself, with Facebook in Covent Garden and Amazon in Clarkenwell, it seems that some of the magic is rubbing off from London’s challenge to Silicon Valley.
The influx of big corporates like Facebook and Amazon is undoubtedly good for the area and the UK, but a balance must be found between inviting the big players in and keeping hold of the entrepreneurial atmosphere that has seen so many promising start-ups spring up in the past five years.
Speaking to GrowthBusiness earlier in the year, Steve Reid, founder of sports-orientated social networking site Tribesports, said that one of the main reasons he decided to locate his business in East London was the availability of developers.
He described the kinds of workers he needed as ‘gold-dust’ due to the business’ unusual coding requirements but has been able to fill his ranks with engineers flocking to the area.
So it seems that those who had previously shunned the corporate world that had long employed talented technology engineers, were finding life in Tech City much more to their liking. But if we’re not careful they will be sucked back into it before we even have the chance to build our own British Amazon.