It’s weird how ideas get a certain zeitgeist. Last night at around 1am I put up my idea for a tech hub – a physical cluster for startups, probably a building or a set of buildings not unlike the converted Guinness warehouses in Dublin used for the amazing Digital Hub.
Today the FT’s tech correspondent Tim Bradshaw blogged about “Silicon Roundabout”, the area around London’s Old Street which was once a thriving dotcom scene in the late 1990s and is now re-claiming its heritage, with lots of tech companies floating around.
Dopplr’s Matt Biddulph coined the phrase “Silicon Roundabout” on Twitter last week and the idea has quickly taken off. Here’s the FT:
“Previously known as the busy junction where London’s Old Street meets City Road, Silicon Roundabout is not the most salubrious of locations for budding entrepreneurs. But a coalescence of young web and tech companies in EC1 dates back to dotcom days. Alongside cheaper rents and a surfeit of bars, tapping into that experience is part of the area’s appeal for many of its newer residents. Many will be hoping to follow the example of local hero Last.fm. The online music community was bought by CBS for $280m (£140m) last year, one of the largest UK web company buyouts of recent years.”
“For me it’s all about the community here,” Biddulph told the FT. “We moved in because our friends did too.” [Update: He says more or less the same thing in the Evening Standard which even did a bill poster, right].
Neither article mentions that Dopplr sub-lets space from Moo and can they literally shout across to the Moo guys on the other side of the office, but let’s not split hairs. This is the tech hub concept in action to a large extent, just created organically. In some sense Moo is creating its own tech hub. And all power to them for that, it’s a great move.
The Dopplr CTO has even plotted his fellow Roundabouters on Google Maps (below) and even created a social network: SiliconRoundabout.com.
Out of the 16 listed on the map, 50% are what you might call technology startups, the rest are more like Web, design, or creative agencies:
Here’s the list:
Last.fm – no longer a startup – bought by CBS, but a good example
Moo – Startup.
Trampoline Systems – Startup.
Skimbit – Startup.
Dopplr – Startup.
AMEE – Startup.
Songkick – Startup.
IDEO – Design agency
Consolidated Independent – technology services company
LShift / Cohesive FT – Agency.
tinker.it – Technology and design consultancy
Schulze & Webb – Creative design consultancy.
Techlightenment – “Social Brand building” agency
Redmonk – Analyst firm.
Poke London – Creative web agency.
Meanwhile, over on the “The World’s Web & Mobile Startups” map we started for Techcrunch UK in February (and which has now been replaced by our London map on CrunchBase), there are even a few others.
Welovelocal – (Now sold to GCap)
So it’s a good, natural cluster with many of the networking effects that go with that.
Plus, Silicon Roundabout’s claim to be the heart of the London tech scene is getting a South London gravitational pull from Huddle which has four under it’s expansive roof in Bermondsey: Huddle, Rummble, Veedow, Kubera Money but is soon to be seven as three will come from the Seedcamp competion post-September.
Does that mean the tech hub concept is not required? Maybe, but I think it’s worth having the debate.
PostScript: Please add your company to CrunchBase and add in a full address with postcode. It looks like our our map is a little out of wack – most of the startups are in the most expensive part of London!