I mentioned last week that Europe is really moving up the agenda for US buyers, and it does definitely feel as if companies here are spreading their wings and looking for opportunity outside Silicon Valley. Two transactions last week are indicative of this, with Facebook buying Two Big Ears out of Scotland, and eBay buying Ticketbis from Spain.
I also met today with a PE fund focused on growth-stage companies. Europe has been their most active region in the last year. As a US fund with resources on the ground in Europe they find they’ve a lot to offer tech companies who want access to the US market. Most of their portfolio companies are looking to buy to grow faster, and many have made add-on acquisitions in Europe.
One further indicator of the growing international flow of business interests to and from Europe is the seemingly regular announcements of new flights to Europe from the three Bay Area airports. Wow Airlines now offers low cost flights to Europe via a stop in Iceland, Norwegian Air will fly from Oakland to London Gatwick and British Airways has a new San Jose to Heathrow flight to complement the two daily flights from San Francisco.
Talking of transport, if you've been here you'll know that traffic around rush hour on I-280 and I-101 is horrendous! It adds at least 50% to journey time if you are driving. It means lots of expensive fast cars completely stationary on the motorway (almost all with only one driver). Just as well there are so many Teslas and other electric cars in the mix or the smog would be a killer! I use a combination of my bike and the mainline train (Caltrain) for most of my journeys from our Menlo Park office to “the City” (in Silicon Valley there is really only one city, and it is San Francisco). You can tell how much the economy has really picked up over the last few years as the demand for both passenger space and bike spaces has really peaked. All rush hour trains are now always standing room only and cyclists are routinely turned away as there is no space for their bikes.
News of the week…
Google wins its case against Oracle for using Java and saves itself $9 billion but Oracle may appeal – and no matter who wins, the lawyers win!
Microsoft and Facebook are jointly building the highest-capacity subsea cable ever across the Atlantic that will connect Virginia Beach, Virginia, with Bilbao, Spain.
Twilio has filed for an IPO and this will be very closely watched, or as Dan Primack of Fortune wrote “If Twilio manages to price and doesn't collapse in the early aftermarket, it could serve as the dam-breaker that other, less courageous unicorns have been waiting for”.