It’s no secret that European startup founders often relocate to Silicon Valley as they look to grow their businesses. The vast amounts of venture capital funding on offer and the huge North American market make it a sensible place to try and expand.
But the exodus of Europe’s best entrepreneurs to the US comes at a potential cost. Namely, there’s no one good left to build (or support those building), world-class technology companies on the same scale as Google, Apple, and Facebook.
However, former Uber exec Lars Fjeldsoe-Nielsen believes things are starting to change.
Fjeldsoe-Nielsen — who was VP of mobile at Uber before joining London-headquartered Balderton Capital as an investor earlier this year — told Business Insider that an increasing number of European founders are returning from Silicon Valley to launch a startup in Europe or invest in other European businesses they like the look of.
Since becoming a VC, Fjeldsoe-Nielsen has been travelling around Europe, which is where Balderton invests its billions, to try and get a “lay of the land” and see what people are talking about.
“A lot of people are coming back,” he said at Balderton’s office in up-and-coming tech hub King’s Cross. “The exits seem to happen in the US right now but the founders come back. I see that everywhere: Paris, Stockholm, Copenhagen.”
One of the first engineers at Box (IPO’d), the cofounders of Edomondo (bought by Under Armour), and the cofounder of JustEat (IPO’d), are among the many entrepreneurs that have returned to Europe after successful exits, he continued.
While Fjeldsoe-Nielsen is happy to see European entrepreneurs returning to their home countries, he maintains that Silicon Valley is one of the best places in the world for founders to gain experience.
“I think it’s good for Europeans to go to the Valley and see what happens out there. It absolutely is. It’s almost like you get an education in starting up and networking and hiring and all this stuff.”
But why are all the exists (stock market listings and acquisitions) happening in the US?
“The reality is when you look at the big five they’re in the US and they’re acquiring a lot of companies,” said Fjeldsoe-Nielsen. Founders have also suggested that they can raise more money on US stock markets like NASDAQ and the NYSE than they can in Europe. However Marcus Stuttard, head of the UK Primary Markets and the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) at the London Stock Exchange, claims this isn’t the case.
Fjeldsoe-Nielsen added that we will start to see big companies coming out of Europe in the next five to 10 years. “There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “And they will start to acquire.”