Niklas Zennström, the billionaire cofounder of Skype and the CEO of London-based venture capital firm Atomico, thinks that the European tech scene will thrive regardless of Brexit, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Brexit has created a great deal of economic uncertainty across many sectors in Europe, including tech. The fact that London — one of the biggest tech centres on the continent — will potentially be shutting its doors to overseas workers and removing itself from a market of over 500 million people could have a huge impact on the continent’s wider tech scene.
Speaking at a Wall Street Journal conference on Wednesday, the Swedish entrepreneur who once bought file-sharing site Kazaa is reported to have said that “Brexit won’t have an impact on Europe becoming a tech hub.”
Zennström, reported to have a net worth of $1.3 billion (£890 million), said: “Entrepreneurs don’t think I shouldn’t start a company because of Brexit. But [we] need [that] free flow of talent.”
During his panel, Zennström highlighted that there are more software developers across Europe than there are in the US. However, allowing them to move freely from country to country is key to the overall success of the continent’s tech scene, he believes.
When Rolfe Winkler, a technology journalist at The Wall Street Journal, asked him what’s wrong with Europe, Zennström replied “What’s wrong with your question? We have many billion dollar opportunities.” He went on to explain that it’s a younger ecosystem in Europe, before adding that it will have a Google-sized company within the next 10 years.
Zennström’s comments aren’t all that surprising given that his VC firm is investing predominantly in European startups in the hope that they will grow in a multibillion dollar business. He also sits on the board of European companies like Rovio, the creator of the “Angry Birds” game, and fresh food provider Farmdrop.
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