Unicorns, technology businesses worth over $1 billion (£670 million), must be “unique” or “special”, according to Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s newly-formed parent company, Alphabet Inc.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 today with Rohan Silva, a former policy advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron and the cofounder of the Second Home coworking space, the billionaire said: “The moment you’ve got a product that’s better than somebody else it gets national or global promotion and that’s what’s leading to the rise of these new tech companies called unicorns, that are worth over a billion dollars.
“Each of them does something unique or special that seems to have a global footprint and solves a problem. I think what you’re really seeing is the natural outgrowth of the internet.”
Schmidt made the remarks after Silva asked him whether “the good will out” when it comes to technology startups in the 21st century because people can now share their experiences and spread the word about excellence.
Responding to Silva, Schmidt said: “I think it’s different. It’s more brutally competitive because we’re all in a link now. You used to be able to build a product that would work very well in a particular city in the United States, or in England, or Australia, or wherever and you’d have a local following. But those local followings are pretty rare now.”
Schmidt met Silva, the pioneer of the government’s Tech City initiative, over a dinner at Google’s Mountain View headquarters.
According to The Evening Standard, Silva sang the praises of London’s Tech City to Schmidt but he was “having none of it” to begin with.
Silva told the Standard: “Eric’s first response was ‘How about we buy the Olympic Park?’, and the Google people in the room laughed nervously.” However, by the time he and then Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt walked out, Google had pledged funds, according to the Standard.