I just got back from a 2 week work + vacation trip to London. On the night I arrived (Sept 26), I was invited to a London Girl Geek Dinner in London sponsored by Astraware, a company I worked closely with while I was a consultant at Palm. The Girl Geek Dinners are increasing in popularity and a great way for women who are involved in technology to meet each other. (Sarah Blow, the founder of London Girl Geek Dinners tells me that they recently had over 100 people attending one of the events!) This particular event had about 50ish ‘geeks’ and included a few talks (including one from me).
John Phillips and Alison Barclay (VP of Business Development and Marketing respectively) from Astraware asked me to speak to the group about trends in social media/ social networking. I talked about how I see social networking evolving and where I think its going (regurgitating topics I’ve spoken about before in this blog). I also highlighted the business opportunities that abound for entrepreneurs and developers in this space (thanks to several new Facebook-related venture funds).
At the end of my talk, there was a Q&A, and (gasp) networking (the Brits hate the term “networking”). Most of the people I spoke to had Facebook or other social networking accounts, but interestingly many were not convinced of the viability of business opportunities for UK-based Facebook developers. Instead, most of the women I spoke to felt that the big opportunities in social media/ social networking are in the mobile applications space.
While I continue to believe that there is a huge opportunity for Facebook developers (mobile app or web), I agree with those I spoke to that the opportunities are currently largely US based. With the British Pound valued at an all time high against the US Dollar, the cost of doing business in Britain has reached an all time high (£1 now equals ~$2.04. Three years ago £1 was about $1.75). And, this can’t have gone unnoticed by those VCs investing in social media, which are largely based in the US. I expect that this is a short-term problem. Currency fluctuations eventually ‘right’ themselves, and by the time the US Dollar is a little stronger against the Pound, I’m betting that the value of business opportunities for 3rd party developers on Social Media/ Networking platforms will be well proven and opportunities will increase for UK- based developers.