Discover more from European Straits
London & Paris Together. Business Strategy. Peak Bay Area. Lobbying Regulators.
Today: All my essays published over the past week. Time to subscribe if you haven’t yet!
The Agenda 👇
Tech people should work across the Channel in a new Entente Cordiale
Everyone needs business strategy, even at a small scale
Kim-Mai Cutler on why 2014 was Peak Bay Area
A 10-point checklist for founders who need to lobby the government
🇬🇧🇫🇷 The New Entente Cordiale
Given the current state of the world, it could seem a bit farfetched to think there is an opportunity for Paris and London to form a shared startup ecosystem. But it fits with one of my key views on how the Entrepreneurial Age will develop: just as in the 19th century, businesspeople are in the best position to serve as the glue binding together different nations and cultures.
That’s why I’ve been pleased to be working with Saul Klein, Éléonore Butler (both of LocalGlobe), and Yoram Wijngaarde of Dealroom on an argument in favor of a “new Entente Cordiale”, thinking about how London and Paris could effectively pool their resources to become Europe’s main tech hub. Before Brexit one may have wondered if Paris could stand as an equal in such a scenario; but now the fact is that the city could serve an important role for scaling up across the continent thanks to its being part of the EU!
We’ll have to see how this relationship develops, particularly in the new post-pandemic reality that is hopefully forthcoming. Will there be many startups, founders, and investors effectively operating in both cities? Will simple, fast travel between the two still be possible? Essentially, will there be a situation in which the intensity of the relationship between the two cities can increase?
👉 I suggest some ideas (and as always am interested in ones coming from my readers!) in The New Entente Cordiale.
🤓 Business Strategy at a Small Scale
As my readers well know, one of my passions is business strategy. But given that my firm The Family works principally with early-stage founders, for a long time that specific passion rarely seemed applicable in the day-to-day work of helping them. After all, strategy can be seen as deciding on how a business can best deploy its money over time; but at the early stage, founders usually lack both money and time.
But lately, the realm of business strategy has moved from something practiced by expensive consultants to almost becoming, well, a commodity. In the past few years, there’s been an explosion in blogging about strategy. Detailed information on how various businesses are positioned, information that used to only be pulled together in a McKinsey presentation, is now free to everyone with a smartphone.
Simultaneously, those strategy lessons are now much more applicable to smaller businesses and even individuals themselves. Understanding your niche and how to differentiate your business aren’t just issues for big businesses now that platforms from Substack and OnlyFans to Sellsy and many others are opening up new avenues for creators.
👉 I go further into what’s changed in Business Strategy at a Small Scale.
🗺 Away From the Bay Area
Kim-Mai Cutler, a former journalist and current VC with Initialized, is a writer whose work I’ve cited many times. She’s a keen observer of life in Silicon Valley, and so her take on what’s been happening lately regarding tech companies leaving the Bay Area is well worth reading.
Notably, she shows how this phenomenon, which has been an increasingly popular topic in the context of the pandemic and the acceleration of remote work, really isn’t all that new. Indeed, she places “Peak Bay Area” as having occurred back in 2014—a date which struck me personally since it was also the year in which China really came onto my radar following the Alibaba IPO.
This global context is important because I believe there’s more to what’s happening than the simple fact that San Francisco has become a terrible place to live. The world has changed greatly from what it was following the 2008 financial crisis, and many influential players have widened their scope, hunting for interesting deals far beyond Silicon Valley.
And it’s no coincidence that this is happening as the next generation of influential startups will likely be what I refer to as “default local”—a situation that is less amenable to having tech founders from around the globe relocate their businesses to a small, relatively inhospitable area in Northern California.
👉 I provide a good set of reasons to read Kim-Mai’s piece in Away From the Bay Area.
💼 A Founder’s Handbook for Lobbying the Government
Startup founders have never been overly interested in topics like regulations and governmental procedure. A libertarian, live-and-let-live ethos was long championed in the tech world, at least in public. But now that software is eating the world and more startups are tackling heavily regulated industries and markets, founders are realizing that they need a new playbook.
I’ve seen this shift taking place as my conversations with founders from The Family’s portfolio have more and more often centered on how to best deal with regulators. I realized that there were certain approaches that kept coming up, and so in this edition I tried to distill them into a 10-point list.
These points include aspects of language (don’t speak to a government official like you would an investor!), fraternity (avoid speaking poorly of your competitors and their tactics!), relationships (never have your first contact be when you’re asking for a favor!) and much more. The most important, however, is that startups simply can’t afford to ignore regulatory issues anymore, and accepting the reality of dealing with them is step one towards a better outcome.
👉 I outline a general approach founders can take in A Founder’s Handbook for Lobbying the Government.
Sounds interesting? Subscribe to European Straits and let me know what you think!
From Fewer Regulations in America? (October 2020):
The US is highly regulated, in some cases much more so than Europe, but there’s a reason why many firms and entrepreneurs don’t realize it: they’re used to throwing lawyers at any regulatory problem they encounter. That’s easily done in the US because there are so many lawyers; less so in other countries, because there are fewer lawyers per capita compared to America.
All recent editions:
A Founder’s Handbook for Lobbying the Government—for subscribers only.
Away From the Bay Area—for subscribers only.
Business Strategy at a Small Scale—for subscribers only.
The New Entente Cordiale—for subscribers only.
War, Inflation, and the Stock Market—for subscribers only.
On Rich People and Startups—for subscribers only.
McKinsey’s Financial Loops—for subscribers only.
A Great Writeup About India’s Startup Scene—for subscribers only.
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From Munich, Germany 🇩🇪