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Insight

Looking for a new role in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic

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It’s difficult to overstate how damaging the Coronavirus pandemic has been to a whole host of different businesses. Previously solid companies, both large and small, have started laying off and furloughing staff en masse. This presents a particular challenge for those unfortunate enough to be caught in this particular storm. How can you find a new job when so many companies are laying off staff rather than hiring?

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Technology Pioneers: Barry Diller

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Barry Diller was one of the first businessmen who had a vision that digital commerce would revolutionise the world. The company he founded- InterActiveCorp or IAC would be both a pioneering investor and builder of early internet businesses as well as creating a host of well known businesses and brands that endure today. IAC brands have included Expedia, Hotels.com, Match.com, Ticketmaster, Citysearch, Lending Tree, Evite, Tinder, PlentyOfFish, Vimeo, Shoebuy.com,  ServiceMagic and more.

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Technology Pioneers: Linus Torvalds

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Linus Torvalds might not be a household name, but his impact on the modern world is undeniable. During his time at the University of Helsinki, between 1988 and 1996, Linus would invent what is now Linux, and spearhead the development of open source software as a popular and viable alternative to proprietary software.

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Technology Pioneers: Nikola Tesla

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Nicola Tesla is one of the most influential technologists of all time, who was a true visionary and far ahead of many of his contemporaries in the field of scientific development.

Some of Tesla’s major contributions to science include:

  • Alternating Current – his inventions made AC applicable for widespread use, helping to electrify the world, making the energy grid possible. Without energy grids, the modern world would be unrecognisable compared to its current form.
  • Radio technology – in 1898, Tesla showed an invention called “teleautomaton“, which was a boat controlled by radio waves. He controlled the battery-operated boat, whilst operating the propeller and lights through the radio waves. This invention was big in three different areas: advancements in radio technology that would later be used for everything from mobile phones through to TV remote controls. Secondly, the boat was one of the earliest robots, as it was a mechanical object that could be controlled without a human physically touching it. Thirdly, the combination of robotics and radio control technology makes Tesla’s boat the great-grandfather of drones. Tesla was one of the key scientists behind the advances in wireless communications, and he would become first to transmit radio signals over long distances.
  • The Induction Motor – which is still used today in everyday products like vacuums, blow dryers, and power tools.
  • Hydroelectric power – The Niagara Falls Commission was looking for a company to build a hydroelectric plant that would harness the mighty power of the falls for years, and with Tesla’s help, built one of the very first hydroelectric power plants.
  • Neon Lamps – Tesla advanced both fluorescent and neon lighting. He saw an opportunity and experimented with running electrical particles through gases, developing four different types of lighting. At Chicago World’s Fair, Tesla had neon signs that were unique designs and written words. The idea gained popularity and now, neon lights and signs, light up major cities around the world.
  • The Tesla Coil – was a key invention that enabled Tesla to experiment with, and better understand, the nature of electricity and wireless communications.

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The UK has by far the most mature e-commerce market in Europe

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Surprisingly, the UK consumer spends much more online than their French or German counterparts, despite the UK economy being similar in size to France and considerably smaller than Germany:

The UK spends a much higher proportion of GDP on e-commerce compared to France and Germany. Perhaps more surprisingly, French consumers spend more on e-commerce than Germany.

This data provides a good illustration of how the UK internet industry is the most mature in Europe, and disproportionately large compared to other European economies.

There are no doubt many complex causes for this. Many US companies have chosen to create their headquarters out of the UK for a combination of reasons; easier cultural assimilation, and perhaps also the perception of a relatively pro-business regulatory approach compared to often more tax-heavy continental European political regimes.

Furthermore, the UK has achieved notable success in a range of subsectors – such as online retail with ASOS and Net-a-Porter achieving international success, fintech with pioneering companies like TransferWise and WorldRemit, online gambling with powerhouses like Betfair, Bet365 and PartyGaming (historically), mobile games with the likes of King having substantial UK operations, online travel (e.g. Hotels.com has a strong UK heritage, Skyscanner) and many other sectors.

Because the UK was one of the first internet ecosystems to emerge in Europe, this has also created some economies of scale; because there were other internet companies in London, it made hiring a CTO, or CMO or CPO much easier as there was a ready made talent pool to dip into. Try and set up a new internet business or country operation in a more emerging market, and you might well find obtaining strong talent much more difficult.

Perhaps there are also cultural elements at work here – maybe us Brits just prefer online shopping more as an experience compared to other countries, who may have more affection for physical retail.

There is a very real sense in which the French and German internet markets are relatively immature and smaller than they should be, despite notable successes such as Zalando or Leboncoin. This should create huge opportunities to take successful business models that have worked well elsewhere and extend them to those markets. French and German internet businesses looking to expand will often have to look abroad for talent, as there is often insufficient talent (particularly in functions like engineering and product) in the local market.

For us at Neon River, this means that our work is increasingly international – whether that is working with clients outside the UK – or looking to relocate candidates from abroad to mitigate for a lack of local talent in a particular market.