Impulse buy: Why compete when American companies can simply acquire latest EuroTech?

Just after our current website went live last February, one of our first posts was about U.S. companies on a shopping spree in Europe, buying everything from novelty AI apps to lingerie.

We thought it was fitting to follow up at Christmas time with an update because the Americans – especially tech companies –  are still  stuffing money into the g-strings of the prettiest EuroTech companies like drunken NBA rookies at a Vegas strip club.

But instead of consumer-facing retailers such as high street lingerie retailer Hunkemöller, the U.S. tech giants are stripping Europe of most of its gee-whiz next-gen tech.

screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-7-16-32-pmWired has a new post with the click-baity headline, “This one chart reveals how many European firms have been bought by Apple, Amazon and Alphabet” that basically rifts on just one chart from the “State of European Tech” report just released by Atomico.

From that post by Victoria Woollaston:

In total, between 2011 to 2016, there were 52 acquisitions by the top five US tech titans – namely Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook. Alphabet has led the way, with 16 including mail app Sparrow in 2012, AI experts at Dark Blue Labs in 2014, drawElements and DeepMind in 2014 and most recently, Moodstocks. Microsoft bought Skype back in 2011 and most recently acquired MinecraftEDU, SwitftKey and IoT platform Solair.

Facebook has concentrated on photo and recognition software, mainly, and in the past five years has bought Lightbox,, Moves App, Surreal Vision and spatial audio firm Two Big Ears which seemingly complements its previous acquisition of Oculus, among others.

Here in Eindhoven, we’re living it, with the $43 billion purchase in October of local chipmaker NXP by Qualcomm. That’s only one deal.

Just the list of Amazon acquisitions in Europe is amazing. The Seattle-based e-tailer (or whatever Amazon is this week) just this year acquired Cloud9IDE, a Dutch/American firm that creates cloud-based development tools; Colis Prive, a French delivery/logistics company and NICE, an Italian company that builds remote visualization software for monitoring high performance and technical computing.

Alphabet/Google acquired France-based Moodstocks, a company transforming photo technology into smart sensors.

If you assign a super-conservative (and arbitrary) value of $100 million on each acquisition, we’re willing to bet the data farm that U.S. companies have bought up at least $100 billion in advanced European technology since 2010.

HBR: EU fighting a war with Google it can’t win

ft3Speaking of Google, the Mountain View, Calif.-based search engine/advertising monolith is going head-to-head with European Commission regulators accusing Google of many, many things including giving its e-tailers unfair search advantages, thwarting competitors by allowing its AdSense ad-placement service to block competing search advertisements and using Android OS to crush phone manufacturers and mobile networks.

In short, accusing the company whose actual official corporate motto used to be “don’t be evil” of being the source of all digital evil in the universe.

Harvard Business Review has a post, “Google vs. the EU Explains the Digital Economy,” explaining how Google versus the EU explains the digital economy. (This is Harvard, not BuzzFeed, so give ’em a break.)

Just like the American cherry picking of Europe’s best tech, Google’s tussle with EU regulators is part of a war for global dominance. And no one is betting on the EU.

From the HBR post by Bala Iyer and U. Srinivasa Rangan:

Given that Google has a European market share of more than 90% in general internet search services, licensable smart mobile operating systems and app stores for the Android mobile operating system, E.U. antitrust authorities seem to believe that Google needs to be policed from stifling innovation in the marketplace.

Good luck with that.

The showdown is over the U.S. vision of competition benefitting consumers versus the European ideal of a level playing field advancing technological innovation. What the Europeans don’t want to see is a repeat of when Microsoft – through pricing strategies and informal deals – monopolized the operating systems on PCs.

The problem for EU legislators is that American tech companies own every tranche of what’s termed “the mobile industry stack” – the layers of integrated technology starting with smart phone apps and operating systems and ending with manufacturing. Sometimes Google, Apple and Microsoft compete, and sometimes they collaborate. But they always win.

Remember when Ericsson and Nokia dominated wireless devices? Good times!

The problem for regulators mired in ossified bureaucracy is, those corporate relationships and the ecosystems they shape are increasingly fluid as innovation approaches light speed. The only way for the EU to achieve “dynamic efficiency,” Iyer and Rangan write, is to get out of the way.

C|NET also has a detailed story about coming tech wars here.

London No. 1 on European Digital City Index

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-11-13-48-amThe European Digital City Index was released earlier this month, a project funded in part by the European Union. The EDCI ranks European cities by how well they support digital entrepreneurship. And when we say “support,” EDCI tries to quantify elements such as access to capital and digital infrastructure, along with subjective abstractions such as quality of life … sort of like we did with our own list of the five best European cities for expats.

The EDCI Top 10 includes all the usual suspects, including London at No. 1.

The Top 10 are:

  1. London
  2. Stockholm
  3. Amsterdam
  4. Helsinki
  5. Paris
  6. Berlin
  7. Copenhagen
  8. Dublin
  9. Barcelona
  10. Vienna

We have to say we felt a bit vindicated to see our unheralded headquarters of Eindhoven at No. 26, just behind Frankfurt and one ahead of Utrecht.

Unlike a lot of the rankings and research the EU cranks out, this is legit. When we looked at the methodology, it included collecting hard data from Eurostat and the World Bank, as well as “soft data” scraped from startup meet-up websites, APIs and non-public databases such as VC and investment websites. Well done!

Here’s the link to see more granular detail about their data and how they crunched it.

Mercifully brief briefs

•  Paris startups at Station F

We first mentioned this so long ago that even we forgot about it. But it appears Xavier Niel is still pushing Paris as Europe’s next startup capital … and putting serious money behind what is being marketed as the world’s largest startup campus. Bloomberg is reporting Niel, who made a fortune with an ISP in the early days of the Internet, has invested $268 million in creating Station F, a 366,000-square-foot startup space in the center of Paris. Renting a desk at Station F when it opens next year will cost 195 euros per month … nearly free in a city with crazy rents.

The Netherlands to invade Vegas

StartupDelta special envoy Constantijn van Oranje, who’s a prince of some sort (we can’t figure out the Dutch royalty), will lead a delegation of 30 Dutch tech startups to the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas next month. The 2017 CES will be the first time the Netherlands will host a Dutch Startup Pavilion at CES, with 30 featured startups.


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