The European tech scene is so good, Google is opening a venture capital business here

LAUNCHPAD: Google's been investing in startups for years, but now its VC arm is coming to Europe. Which means we dun good at tech...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 18 Mar 2016

David Cameron constantly harping on about how great the UK's tech scene is is one thing - but Google announcing it's launching a branch of its venture capital arm in Europe is quite another. The company announced yesterday that not only is it planning a fund dedicated entirely to European start-ups, but also that it'll be based in London. Get us.

Obviously it's a huge vote of confidence for Europe's tech scene, but if we're honest, it's also long overdue: after all, this is the region that spawned start-ups from Mind Candy (the company behind Moshi Monsters) to Spotify to Skype. And Google is being pretty cautious about it: its first fund will be $100m (£58.4m). Considering last August it sank $258m into Uber alone, it's not exactly splashing the cash - but it's a good start, anyway.

You'd have thought Google Ventures would make a beeline for the beating heart of London's tech scene, aka Silicon Roundabout, aka Old Street, but actually it's chosen a less obvious base: Clerkenwell, which is still in east London, but not 'intimidatingly trendy' east London. Which was perhaps the intention.

The four partners behind the new set-up clearly know what they're doing: Eze Vidra has worked for Google for years and helped to set up its Campus co-working space in London, Tom Hulme is a serial entrepreneur, Peter Read is an investor whose conquests include London tech darling YPlan, and Avid Larizadeh is the head of code.org's UK base.

'As we look out around the world, we realise that the tech ecosystems are getting bigger and stronger,' said David Drummond, Google's senior vice president of corporate development, told the FT.

'Nowhere is this more true than in Europe. Every European capital I travel to I see these start up clusters. It's obvious that great companies will come out of these ecosystems.'

Or have come out of these ecosystems. Whatever...

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