Discover more from European Straits
The Gig Economy. IPOs in Europe. Silicon Valley Politics. Countries Are Different.
Today: An article in “Sifted” about the gig economy, and essays about IPOs, politics, and a cross-country comparison.
The Agenda 👇
Enough with curbing the gig economy, invent a new social contract instead
We don’t have many tech IPOs in Europe, but they’re on the way
Why I think Democrats will reunite with Silicon Valley
Germany, France, and the UK are very different from one another
Is Trump still in the flow? [Now we know.]
📱The Gig Economy Is the New Frontier
The gig economy has become one of the defining features of our new age, a way of working and consuming that is entirely linked to this century’s technological advances. Yet it is also a highly contentious field, with companies coming under fire in jurisdictions across the world, even including California, the ostensible home of the gig economy.
Still, the gig economy won’t be going away. It’s simply too difficult to combat both the convenience for consumers and the opportunities for workers. But it will have to change, and Europe should use its love of regulation to take charge when it comes to building a new social contract to fit this new technological paradigm. Taking that kind of forward-looking approach will go much further than trying to halt the trend or force gig workers into categories designed for a different age.
In my latest article for Sifted, I briefly go through the history of social contracts and point to several thinkers who are leading the way to a new set of policy frameworks that take into account both sides of the gig economy 👉 Time for a new social contract for the gig economy.
📈 IPOs: Will the Next Generation of Founders Choose to List in Europe?
Startup investing always takes place with an elephant in the room: liquidity, and specifically how and when the startup may eventually be able to provide it. Having shares turn into actual cash that can then be redeployed is what fuels the virtuous circle. Unfortunately, Europe hasn’t historically benefited from tech IPOs, even for companies that were launched here. As such, we also lack the broad range of service providers needed to boost an IPO market: bankers, analysts, PR firms, etc.
With the advancing Great Fragmentation of the world, there may be an opening for more European companies that fit the “default local” schema to IPO on European stock markets; or it may be that companies need to look at other possibilities such as SPACs, direct listings, or others. The one thing that’s sure is that Europe needs to take a different, more forward-thinking approach to generating liquidity.
That’s why I was glad to speak last week with several panelists as part of a Not Optional online event put on by Index Ventures, Sifted, and Slush. The guests included Clif Marriott of Goldman Sachs, Martin Mignot of Index Ventures, Marianne Tordeux of France Digitale, and Gorka Apraiz from the European Commission. Our conversation brought up a key point, namely that IPOs are forcibly a lagging indicator. Having more and more capital deployed in European startups will forcibly lead to liquidity events, whether those are splashy IPOs or other forward-looking methods.
👩💻 Inflection Points in Silicon Valley Politics
We may well be living through another one at the moment this newsletter arrives to you, but it’s clear that there have been several inflection points in terms of how politics is affected by the move into the Entrepreneurial Age. My own move towards the technology sector was driven by my experiences with French politics and the presidential campaign of Ségolène Royal back in 2006-07, when incisive players were already seeing that traditional approaches to politics were being overrun by the Internet.
In very different ways, Barack Obama and Donald Trump both confirmed that trend. Obama’s campaigns were both marked by their effective online ground game, and no one needs any reminding of how Trump has relied upon social media during his time in the political spotlight.
What’s going to happen now? Well, it will certainly depend on the results of yesterday’s election. But my expectation is that despite the turmoil of the past four years, the Democrats will regain the upper hand in terms of finding an ally in Silicon Valley. The majority of people living and working there practice left-wing politics, and the current incarnation of the Republican Party has been unable to take advantage of their position to create any meaningful relationship with the tech giants.
Read more in Inflection Points in Silicon Valley Politics 🇺🇸
🔐 Each Country Is Different
One of the running themes in Joe Studwell’s How Asia Works is that the varied outcomes in country development can be traced through how each individual country made choices that did (or didn’t) fit the local situation. It’s a very healthy lesson showing that there aren’t any global best practices, but only best practices that match particular needs and contexts (it’s called “contextual rationality”).
This lesson is one that can be applied to the current context of lockdowns and economic crisis that is shadowning Europe. Germany, France, and the UK all face different challenges that can be traced back to the driving forces in their different economies. For example, Germany’s high-value exports are not affected by a lockdown in the same way as are France’s proximity services, and as such they must take different approaches to containing the fallout of the crisis.
These differences are also seen in the startup realm, as each country’s existing context relates to what kinds of startups founders will be more likely to launch, aiming at problems that are directly linked to that context. Which country can hope for a burst of creation in the near future, and which is in for a great deal of pain?
I lay out the details in Each Country Is Different 🇩🇪🇫🇷🇬🇧
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⚠️ With many European countries headed back into lockdown, there’s a renewed sensation of lacking those social moments that so enrich our lives. That’s why from the beginning of the pandemic we at The Family have been pushing hard on making online events better and better, to make sure that physical distancing doesn’t have to mean social distance.
The next edition of our popular Be My Cofounder event is happening this Saturday, you can get your ticket to meet dozens of ambitious doers right here.
From Is Trump Still In The Flow? (September 2020):
What’s the flow these days? What do US voters aspire to? And how is Trump doing? I don’t know who will win the election, and for my own sanity I don’t pay that much attention, but [one thing is] for sure. The flow has very much to do with people wanting to get rid of Trump and his erratic approach to the presidency. This is how I interpret Biden winning the Democratic nomination: US voters are just exhausted; they don’t aspire to Elizabeth Warren’s grand plans or Bernie Sanders’s socialist revolution as much as to simply turning the page and seeing Trump gone.
All recent editions:
Each Country Is Different—for subscribers only.
Debriefing Our IPO Panel—for subscribers only.
Inflection Points in Silicon Valley Politics—for subscribers only.
IPOs: Will the Next Generation of Founders Choose to List in Europe?—for subscribers only.
Fewer Regulations in America?—for subscribers only.
Europe Is a Base, America Is a Destination—for subscribers only.
Rebooting Businesses for the Entrepreneurial Age—for subscribers only.
Why Software Has a Hard Time Eating Construction—for subscribers only.
Value Creation Is The Key To Everything—for everyone.
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From Normandy, France 🇫🇷