E-MAIL FROM THE VALLEY: Many of the 100,000 Europeans in Silicon Valley are returning. It is these re-pats that VC firms are relying on to staff their European ventures.

E-MAIL FROM THE VALLEY: Many of the 100,000 Europeans in Silicon Valley are returning. It is these re-pats that VC firms are relying on to staff their European ventures. - I'm back in London for a few weeks, trying to determine, among other things, whethe

by NICK DENTON, founder and chairman, Moreover Technologies;e-mail: (nick@moreover.com)

I'm back in London for a few weeks, trying to determine, among other things, whether Europe still has a technology industry. The reassuring official line of the venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, at least those who have seen cycles before, is that the clock has been set back to 1996, or maybe 1998, or maybe 1994 - at any rate, before all the craziness started.

And that is a good thing, apparently. The venture capitalists are seeing real companies now, with solid technology, at reasonable valuations. Entrepreneurs know they have time to build before being forced into the glare of the public markets. Technology marches on, relentlessly. And it is not as though 1996 was all that bad.

Well, actually, in Europe it was. US technology veterans may comfort themselves with rhythm of the cycles. But, for Europe, 1996 was bad. There was nothing beyond a few embryonic start-ups and the branch offices of US technology companies. And I simply do not believe, or do not want to believe, that the past five years have been for nothing.

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