While Brexit’s effects are dominating headlines in the UK and around the globe, the nation’s startup industry should emerge from the chaos relatively unscathed, according to longtime European venture investor Saul Klein.
A former partner at Index Ventures (and an employee at Skype back in the day), Klein is on to his next act as an early-stage investor alongside his father, Robin (who is, himself, a famous early-stage investor in technology) at LocalGlobe.
Onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, Klein brushed off any potential impact that the exit of the UK from the European Union might have on startups and entrepreneurship for the country. Indeed, according to Klein, Britain’s startup kids are all right.
Given that roughly 85% of Klein’s portfolio at LocalGlobe is based in the UK, his take on Brexit’s potential impact better be right (for the sake of his fund).
But there’s data to back up Klein’s assertion of the ramifications of Brexit for the UK startup community. “We did a survey with a lot of other people in the ecosystem,” says Klein. “Only 9 percent of companies were thinking of moving. It hasn’t really changed behavior.”
From Klein’s perspective, industry observers need only look at the increasing capital commitments being made to UK startups. “[The] UK in 2016 had about $3.5 billion and the year after it had $7 billion or $8 billion. Venture is a 10- to 12-year bet. Anyone investing in the UK in 2017 and 2018 had heard of Brexit and priced that in.”
Beyond the current investments, the past indicators of Britain’s success loom large over the entire European startup industry. Roughly 40 percent of Europe and Israel’s unicorns hail from the UK and seven out of Europe’s top ten investment funds hail from the UK (based on the number of unicorns they’ve invested in), according to Klein.
Even immigration issues shouldn’t present a problem for Britain. “The UK is thinking about how do we get more highly skilled talent to the UK. Not less,” Klein says.