When it comes to choosing between self-congratulation and self-flagellation, why is it that, in the UK, we normally choose the latter?
Constant criticism of ones status and achievements seems like a very antiquated way to operate. Sometimes it seems that the UK business community, and the media, are overly critical. I can't help but think that we should be celebrating our successes and not viewing each and every sale of a company to a foreign buyer, as a lost opportunity to build our very first global tech-titan.
The BBC is running a big push on the UK tech-scene this week, and it seems everybody has a view on why we are so far behind Silicon Valley. The reason is quite simple - they started around 50 years before we did. That's 50 years of successes and failures, of IPOs and trade sales. 50 years of creating dozens of tech-billionaires and hundreds of entrepreneurs whose wealth would put them in the upper-echelons of the Sunday Times Rich List, if they lived here. Now these super-rich (by UK standards) Entrepreneurs seed and enrich the ecosystem by donating tens of millions of dollars to Universities and then investing in, and sitting on the Boards, of the tech start ups that emanate from them. The Executive talent pool is also an order of magnitude bigger than it is in the UK. Again, a function of time and success.
The opportunity to create a global behemoth does not come along very often. When such a company does come along, its important that the ecosystem is here to support it on its journey. Creating a positive business culture is critical. Everything flows from this and viewing successful outcomes as successes and not failures is an important change that needs to be made. Nobody wants to stay in a losing team - unless that team is on the right track and is making the changes that will see it through to success.
Surely the biggest scandal is not the UK companies that have sold to their foreign competitors but the high-potential companies that are at an earlier stage that have decided to do the 'Delaware-flip' and dress themselves up as a US company to attract US investors and customers. Why aren't we focusing more on these? This group of companies represent the REAL losses to our ecosystem.
To conclude on a more positive note I get the sense that the UK tech industry is in very good health. Creating Silicon Valley took generations and we should give ourselves credit for closing the gap to the extent we have in the past few years. Long may it continue.
So why, over nearly 20 years of covering the tech scene, do I keep getting asked the same thing - where is the UK's Google? When is a British Mark Zuckerberg coming along? And before that it was "where is our Apple or Microsoft?" Is there a British Mark Zuckerberg coming along? Actually, it's not just in the UK that you hear that question. It's asked in Germany and France, and in Israel, home to a thriving tech startup scene. Heaven knows - it's even asked in New York and Boston. Everyone, everywhere, wants to be like Silicon Valley and can't quite work out how you pull it off.