Despite recent strides, it’s generally accepted that London’s tech industry has a long way to go before it can compete on an equal footing with Silicon Valley. But a survey out today claims that Britain's UK capital is actually home to more techies than the west coast start-up Nirvana.
The report from London & Partners, the city’s promotional agency, claims that approximately 71,000 professional developers call London home. That’s far and away more than any other European city (second-placed Paris has just 40,000) but also apparently more than the greater San Francisco area, which includes Silicon Valley and is apparently home to just 68,000 techies.
‘This research underlines London's status as the best city in the world in which to grow a tech business,’ said David Slater, director of international trade and investment at London & Partners. ‘A key reason why international businesses are attracted to London is the concentration of highly skilled workers, our ability to attract the best talent from around the world and our burgeoning culture of innovation and creativity.’
There’s plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the figures, which seem pretty startling. For a start, they’re based on membership of Stack Overflow, an online developer community which may be very large but isn’t necessarily a representative sample – it’s perfectly possible that London’s techies are over-represented on the website.
Then there’s also the difficulty in defining what makes a professional developer. Do they have to work full-time, or even be employed at all? Is it narrowly limited to those who build software directly, or does it include testers, analysts, and administrators? The US Bureau of Labor claims Silicon Valley and San Francisco are home to more than 92,000 programmers, system software developers, or application software developers, according to a recent Quora reponse.
The figures are nonetheless promising for London’s technology sector, and its workforce looks set to grow by a further 22% over the next 10 years, according to a separate study by Oxford Economics. That’s not to say the capital is awash with developers though – employers face extremely fierce competition if they want to hire the best talent.