Naysayers of ‘Silicon Roundabout’ (or Tech City, to use its UK Government-sanctioned name) can certainly point to some of the giddy PR surrounding the area as evidence of hype. But when you join up the dots, there’s a definite sense that we’re beginning to see signs of real growth for this tech cluster in the east end of London.
And so it is that news comes today of what looks like another impressive hire for a Silicon Roundabout-based startup: Matthew Brazil, who was previously VP of Business Development for Radian6 (which exited to Salesforce for $326m) has joined social customer service outfit Conversocial as VP of Sales. This follows the recent hiring by neighbouring Songkick of former Googler Dan Crow as its CTO.
Newly hired Brazil will lead Conversocial’s sales and marketing efforts as it gears up for a more aggressive push into the U.S. — which is particularly noteworthy given his links to Radian6, whose offering has plenty of overlap with Conversocial’s own Twitter and Facebook-based customer service tool. In fact, Brazil can be considered responsible for growing Radian6’s UK operation via 6consulting, which he co-founded and that was acquired by the company in 2011 (not long before itself being gobbled up by Salesforce).
But back to Conversocial and the topic of growth. Around a year ago the DFJ Esprit-backed startup claimed just 5 employees, while head count now stands at over 20. Its clients include B&Q, Barclaycard, Cafe Nero, Groupon, Net A Porter, Odeon, River Island, Sephora, Tesco, and Waitrose. States-side, the company has around 20 customers and is currently hiring out of its New York office.
Conversocial co-founder and CEO Joshua March tells me that “we’re starting to see Silicon Roundabout growing up”, not just in terms of how many companies in the area have VC-backing, but also how many are now “commercially successful, and growing and recruiting fast”.
On the specific issue of hiring, March says that events like Silicon Milkroundabout combined with the press coverage that the area has been getting, and the financial slowdown, has made startups a more viable option in the eyes of developers.
“We’ve found it’s actually got easier to hire top developer talent over the last few years; but we’re also in the lucky position that there isn’t a start-up bubble (like there is in Silicon Valley and even New York to an extent) that has driven up start-up salaries to astronomical rates”, he says.
However, “senior talent” with startup experience is still hard to find in London, although March thinks that will change rapidly “over the next couple of years”.
As for the naysayers, he has this to say:
“Huddle, Moo, Mind Candy are just a few that have really broken out and are becoming major companies, but there’s also an increasing number at the stage just before, like us. It’s not just about a load of hackers renting a few desks with big dreams, but significant companies winning major customers around the world and expanding quickly, including to the US.”