'May was tonedeaf to business' -- how UK tech is reacting to the election result

Thursday night’s shock election result, which resulted in the Conservative party losing its Parliamentary majority, also came as a surprise to people working in tech.

Last year the tech world supported a vote to remain in the European Union. One poll found that 87% of respondents who work in tech wanted to remain.

So how do people in tech feel about Thursday night’s result?

Harry Briggs, a partner at venture capital firm BGF Ventures, said that Prime Minister Theresa May could become a “laughing stock”:

“Clearly uncertainty is never good for business confidence – and because Theresa May’s ability to negotiate Brexit is fatally compromised (she’d be a laughing stock both in Europe and in parliament), there will likely be another leadership hiatus and temporary power vacuum.

That said, as early stage investors, we are optimists – and we back optimistic entrepreneurs who always looks for the opportunity rather than the downside. For example, a new “safe pair of hands” prime minister such as Hammond might be less anti-immigrant on Brexit – which would be welcomed by startups needing international talent. Thankfully the UK has strong self-preservation instincts and I expect the Conservatives will make a swift and pragmatic change of leadership, and set out a fresh agenda to restore business confidence.”

Kayako cofounder Jamie Edwards was hopeful about the election result:

“Any result which enhances the prospect of consensus building, debate and democratic accountability over Brexit is enormously welcome. A hard Brexit which harms access to talent, foreign investment and a strong university base would have been deeply damaging to U.K. tech and reversed more than a decade of building the tech ecosystem.”

Technology investor Rob Kniaz from Hoxton Ventures said that the prime minister had been “tonedeaf to business”:

“The upside of the election is that the DUP will wield a disproportionate amount of power and their policies towards trade and immigration seem sensible. Those are the two things that matter most to tech companies at the moment … May was tonedeaf to business and I’m cautiously optimistic the DUP will be a voice supporting business.”

Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK, said the result meant that there was uncertainty:

“This election result has produced a lack of clarity at an important time. But I see it as a crucial period of transition. For Tech, it will be an opportunity to get our message through more strongly than ever in what I hope will be a more business-friendly administration.”

James Herring, managing partner of PR agency Taylor Herring, had two points to make:

“1. Opinion polls are worthless

2. That young people clearly don’t read newspapers (game over for printed editorial propaganda)”

Laurence Garrett, a partner at Highland Europe, said the following:

“Politics has little impact on the success of the UK tech industry. Technology is borderless in nature and we remain confident that the UK will remain a vibrant location for the innovation economy.”

Eze Vidra, former investor at Google Ventures and CIO at healthcare startup Antidote, said certainty and clarity is needed:

“What we need is certainty. We want to get to work establishing the best way forward for the UK/European relationship. Clarity on immigration, market access and capital flows is critical for UK’s tech success.”

Do you work in tech and want to share your view on the election result? Email the author: [email protected]

Additional reporting by Sam Shead.

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