Newspaper article International New York Times

London Tech World Building Bridges ; Businesses Reach out to Poorer Communities in Effort to Ease Tensions

Newspaper article International New York Times

London Tech World Building Bridges ; Businesses Reach out to Poorer Communities in Effort to Ease Tensions

Article excerpt

London's burgeoning tech community wants to spread knowledge to the wider community, which has yet to be touched by the city's growing reputation for start-ups and innovation.

On a wet British morning, small groups of entrepreneurs sat huddled around tables in a converted warehouse in East London, swapping advice and stories about their companies.

Among the young founders, drawn mostly from the neighborhood surrounding the British capital's thriving technology community, sat Niklas Zennstrom, a co-founder of Skype.

Over three hours, Mr. Zennstrom and Richard Reed, a co-founder of the British smoothie maker Innocent Drinks, shared business advice and marketing tips with the small business owners, including the founder of a local fitness company and a maker of custom bike clothes.

The goal was to spread knowledge from London's burgeoning tech community to the wider business sector, which has yet to be touched by the city's growing reputation for start-ups and innovation.

More important, it was an attempt to build relationships between the British capital's tech entrepreneurs and those -- particularly in the poorer areas of East London -- who do not feel part of the rapid economic growth of companies like King Digital Entertainment, the maker of the Candy Crush franchise, which has a large office here.

The hope is to avoid the kind of growing antagonism in the San Francisco Bay Area that has pitted successful tech companies like Google and Apple against the wider community.

"Entrepreneurs are by nature curious people. I want to help build London's entrepreneurial ecosystem," said Mr. Zennstrom, who has backed a number of Europe's most successful tech start-ups, like the Scandinavian game companies Rovio and Supercell. "You get inspired when you talk to them about their problems."

While London's tech scene has yet to feel the same level of resentment as its California cousin, tensions are growing between the haves and the have-nots. …

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