Daniel Keighron-Foster, MD of Manchester-based cloud consultancy Steamhaus outlines what we can learn from the sale of the UK’s biggest and best tech business
ARM Holdings is being sold for a whopping £24 billion!
The news has stunned many in the UK and there was some genuine sadness within the tech community when it was announced. Britain’s biggest and best tech business will no longer be a fully independent company. Instead this pioneering chip design company will be owned and controlled by Japan’s Softbank.
Outside of the tech industry, however, the reaction is more one of wonderment. People were asking: who are ARM Holdings and why are they worth so much money?
The company behind most of the world’s smartphones, ARM is a fascinating business – despite being relatively invisible to 99.9 per cent of the population. Their legacy goes right back to the creation of the iconic BBC computers of the early ‘80s, but it’s their recent history that interests me most and it’s where we can all learn something. This story shows us that by taking a different approach when new technology comes along, you can reap huge benefits.
Take a different approach
This ‘Think Different’ approach was, of course, epitomised by the launch of Apple’s seminal iPhone in 2007. If Apple wanted a safe bet, from a sales perspective, it could have easily built its smartphone around a microchip designed by Intel. By far and away the biggest name in the market at the time, an Intel logo on a computer was then, and still is today, seen as a mark of quality. Apple realised though, that ARM’s lower power approach to chip design was better suited to the emerging smartphone market.
When embracing any new technology, we could all do with remembering this partnership between Apple and ARM – and realise that fresh thinking can be inspirational. And, to give hope to the next generation of technologists, you don’t have to be the biggest name in the supply chain to become a success.
Steal a march on the bigger players
In this new digital era, there are now many other businesses trying to steal a march on much bigger, more established players in the market. An interesting graphic produced by CB Insights last year demonstrated how numerous financial technology start-ups, for example, are currently eating into the European banking market.
Many of these start-ups followed ARM’s example by taking advantage of new technology to offer a fresh approach, and it’s working.
By harnessing the power of cloud computing and the ‘as-a-service’ economy, savvy entrepreneurs are now quickly able to build a business infrastructure of any size. This also allows them to stay agile, jump on new ideas and grab hold of those opportunities before anyone else has a chance to get a look in.
As a cloud consultancy focused on DevOps, which is all about working differently, we are fortunate enough to meet many hungry companies, and talented individuals, who are looking do this on a daily basis. For us, when we see a company like ARM being sold for £24 billion it’s not a source of sadness but a reason to get excited. We actually find ourselves looking at the companies we are working with now and wondering, which of you could be the next ARM Holding.
It might well be the end of an era for ARM, as stewardship of this fantastic business moves into Japanese hands, but the talent that made the company great is not leaving the country. And when you think about combining those types of skills with emerging area of technologies and new ways of working, we shouldn’t see doom and gloom. The future looks pretty good to me.
Daniel Keighron-Foster is the managing director of Manchester-based cloud consultancy Steamhaus.