To compete with Silicon Valley, European startups need their own Nasdaq
Why can't European tech companies compete with Silicon Valley giants? It's a perennial conundrum for the continent's IT leaders -- and one that Phill Robinson is trying to solve.After a globetrotting career as a tech executive, Robinson returned home to the UK and founded Boardwave, a networking platform that wants to make Europe a software superpower.The concept emerged from Robinson's diverse background in the sector. The entrepreneur spent decades traversing Europe and Silicon Valley, in roles ranging from CMO of Salesforce.com during its IPO to CEO of Dutch software giant Exact. These experiences exposed several advantages for tech firms in the US. Robinson zeroed in on one: the breeding ground for success created by Silicon Valley's tight-knit community. The small area of land interconnects a multitude of tech whizzes, entrepreneurs, investors, and advisers. In Europe, meanwhile, the business environment is highly fragmented.To emulate the valley's network effects, Robinson founded Boardwave. At TNW Valencia on 30 March, he promises to share further insights on building tech giants.Ahead of the talk, Robinson unveiled one of his most ambitious proposals: creating a pan-European version of Nasdaq.[photo1]Robinson wants Boardwave's online platform and in-person events to create new connections for European software firms. Credit: BoardwaveNasdaq is the world's premier marketplace f
or tech stocks. Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft all went public on the exchange. In Europe, there's no comparable trading venue, which restricts the growth of startups."There isn't a single tech market here in Europe," Robinson tells TNW. "Nor is there the knowledge, experience, and understanding of software from investors in public markets. They don't know how to value software companies, they don't understand how they operate, and they don't understand the intrinsic value of them."These circumstances contribute to a vast "exit gap" between European and US firms. In Europe, tech founders often sell their businesses while they're still private -- and miss the chance to maximise their valuations on the public market.Those that do pursue an IPO typically list in the US."Either they go on the NYSE or on the NASDAQ," says Robinson. "At that point, you're not a European software company anymore -- you suddenly become a US software company."