The finest brains in Europe are moving to the US, owing to lucrative offers from tech giants like Google and Facebook. There is also more VC money in the US, which makes it an ideal stop for enterprising Europeans.
Losing the battle to Silicon Valley
According to an article in Financial Times, a group of the most renowned quantum computing scientists have moved to Silicon Valley to found a new company called PsiQ. The Valley gives them better chances of securing VC funding and sit right at the hotbed of tech and innovation. For PsiQ, the backing comes from Android founder Andy Rubin and his VC firm Playground. Two of its earlier funded projects have already been sold to Amazon, and the new company by British scientists could become another feather in their cap.
But this is a smaller example of what American VCs and firms are doing to the best European minds. DeepMind, an artificial intelligence specialist company, was bought by Google. Fayteq from Germany, a service that allows you to remove objects from videos and Moodstocks from France, which is a machine learning developer working for image recognition was also bought by Google.
The numbers are very alarming when applied on a macro scale. Europe’s best minds and entrepreneurs are now being absorbed by American companies like Google, creating a vacuum of talent. Mind the Bridge, an advisory company, suggests that about 562 European startups, which accounted for 44% of the total were bought by US companies between 2012 and 2016. Even Google economist Hal Varian said that the company buys promising startups to “poach” their engineers.
Why Europe needs its talent?
Finding engineers in emerging tech spaces is a herculean task, even for the best companies. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that the number of engineers working towards artificial intelligence is a mere 205,000 people globally. Germany and Britain are leaving the US behind because of a better quality of education and are two of the top hubs for AI specialists.
Regardless of what specialization European universities offer, US tech giants hold the real muscle in this game. Take the example of DeepMind, the British company that suggested it would not compromise with anonymity after its Google acquisition. Eventually, the company’s spotless reputation met serious damage when their partnership with the NHS in Britain was revealed to have broken data privacy laws.
It would be difficult to keep European talent at home, given that money and power dynamics shift towards the US. The European politicians also have to change their vision regarding foreign companies as they still consider investments and acquisitions great for the economy.