The UK’s tech community has reacted to today’s Brexit vote. The results, announced early this morning, saw 48.1% of voters asking to remain in the European Union (EU), whilst the remaining 51.9% voted for a Brexit. The news comes after various surveys conducted across the industry showed the tech sector’s overall support for remaining within the EU.
‘A world-class country’
Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK, addressed the results in a statement:
“The UK remains a world-class country with world-class resources and assets; people, finance, legal framework and a supportive government.
“Nobody knows how this dramatic decision will eventually play out. But we can be sure the UK will remain at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship, and the tech community — with its spirit of problem-solving — will be at the heart of that.
“And as the eyes and ears of the tech community, Tech City UK will be here to play our part,” added the CEO.
‘A world-leading tech hub’
Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, commented about the impact on London’s tech sector.
“Today’s result is not what the London tech sector wanted to see, but we will continue our efforts to build London tech and continue on our journey to make London a world-leading tech hub.
“Digital and tech entrepreneurship has really taken hold in London, and we will continue to nurture this in the coming months and years,” he concluded.
‘Losing the competitive edge’
Tom Marsden, CEO of Saberr, shared his concerns with Tech City News; commenting on the possible repercussions for the recruitment of overseas tech talent.
“In light of this result, the UK will have to work harder to maintain our obvious position as the technology hub in Europe.
“Many of our skilled workers in the tech scene come from Europe and, as it becomes more difficult to attract this talent, we run the risk of losing our competitive edge as a nation with one of the best startup ecosystems in the world,” said Marsden.
Additionally, the CEO said he was also worried about the implications that Brexit would have on scientific research — as this, he added, had benefited from EU investment.
‘A blow for FinTech’
Michael Kent, Azimo CEO and founder said he was disappointed with the results.
“As we’ve said before, this is also a blow to London’s financial services industry: many companies here depend on both EU market access and the ability and legal right to passport their services to the rest of Europe.” he added, noting that he expected many players would move elsewhere in Europe.
“Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Dublin are all obvious candidates,” concluded Kent.
‘An opportunity for FinTech’
Rhydian Lewis, CEO and co-founder at RateSetter, had a somewhat positive outlook on the referendum results.
“FinTech is in its infancy but that means it is necessarily forward-thinking and modern and that allows it to respond more nimbly to the inevitable changes and opportunities that will arise from today’s vote. Leaving the EU may discombobulate big banking conglomerates and FinTech businesses will look to fill any spaces. This may prove to be an opportunity for FinTech.
“P2P lending in the UK operates under bespoke UK regulation with less reference to the EU and mechanically it is UK investors and UK borrowers and so there will be little disruption.”
Max Chmyshuk, founder of Fleximize, commented on the upcoming uncertainty in the economy but remained positive about the prospects for the UK’s tech scene.
“The result of the referendum means that, inevitably, we will now be entering into a period of economic uncertainty.
“Despite this, we believe innovative businesses that are disrupting their markets should continue to thrive.
“It’s important to remember that many of the UK’s most successful tech startups were born during the last recession, so there’s no reason to believe that this will lead to a decline in the UK’s tech startup scene,” said the founder.
‘Bad news for tech’
Husayn Kassai, CEO and co-founder of Onfido, said:
“There is a powerful state of unease this morning as the UK wakes up to the Brexit news.There is a lot of uncertainty around but one thing for sure is that this is bad news for the tech industry.
“Gone are our hopes for a digital single market, there will now be question marks over London being a powerhouse for finance and technology, and it is likely to make it harder to attract top calibre tech talent to the UK.
“Now the tech industry and the UK needs to understand the cards we’ve been dealt and work out how best to move forward,” concluded Kassai.
‘The need for global platforms’
Hiroki Takeuchi, CEO of GoCardless, spoke of the potential impact on emerging tech startups: “As a tech scaleup, we face unpredictable and emerging challenges all the time.
“We sympathise with the next generation of startups, who may suffer without some of the advantages that got us where we are today. But those who make it will demonstrate similar resilience for this new status quo. We must all adapt accordingly.
“The news of the referendum also highlights the challenge we are trying to solve with GoCardless. The financial world is an ever shifting set of political and technical systems — so the need for global platforms to handle that complexity is clear and present,” said Takeuchi.
Nena Chaletzos, founder of Luxtripper, spoke about the news:
“The leave vote gives us more flexibility in a global economy, and I think that we will get better deals and be more competitive globally. There is a possibility that for us as a holiday search website, we will have to re-negotiate new terms with our international vendors — but I see this as a good opportunity to start afresh with new and improved terms.
“I think it would be useful if the government could now maximise on the fact we are seen as a nation that supports tech and drive that forward further. The government could support the technology industry more in terms of PR for the sector, highlighting the strong skill base we have and making us more attractive to other countries from a tech point of view,” she added.
‘Impact on investment’
Andreas Haug, co-founder and partner of e.ventures, told Tech City News:
“Certainly choosing to vote out of the European Union, businesses in the UK will be a significantly less attractive investment proposition for us as a venture capital fund. If a British entrepreneur comes to us with an idea we can immediately assess the appeal of the idea against the European marketplace rather than just that of the UK. The difference being assessing the potential of a business with an immediate customer base of around half a billion people or against a marketplace one tenth that size. On top of this new technology businesses will find the drivers of growth, such as hiring new skilled employees and gaining new customers, stifled.
“Ultimately this has little impact on us as an EU-based investor we can continue to invest throughout the continent. We recently closed a new $150m early-stage fund for investing in European startups and Brexit means fewer British companies gaining capital from ourselves and other European based investors. When you look at the success of UK based start-ups in recent years, particularly the fintech sector, this wouldn’t have been possible without being in the EU during this time. There has already been a more selective approach to venture capital investment around the globe in 2016 and Brexit pushes the UK further back in the list of preferred investment regions.
“We will certainly be advising our UK based portfolio companies including Azimo, Tandem Bank and Farfetch to consider their next steps carefully.”
Following the announcement, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, stood outside No 10 and announced his resignation, saying the UK needed “fresh leadership.”
Cameron said he would aim to have a new leader in place by the Conservative party conference, which is due to take place in October.
It may now take up to two years for Britain to fully detach itself from the Union.
This post first appeared on Tech City News.