Author: James Kinsella

What a Spring Fling your data is having. It hasn’t gotten so much attention since Edward Snowden emigrated to Russia. Or since the American search engines and social media giants began collecting your info to learn more about you and your habits – to sell you more stuff.

Oh, wait: your data is ALWAYS the object of someone's affections. But now, the focus is on how to protect it. And it turns out both the European Commission and the US Congress have chosen the same moment to propose fundamental changes to what happens to your data when it’s cruising the net. No surprise: the two sides of the Atlantic are taking dramatically different approaches.

The Americans appear to be on...

Author: James Kinsella

What an entrepreneur has to say to the EU Competition Commissioner...

Dear Madame Vestager,

Did you miss my previous blog piece? I argued that your approach as EU Competition Commissioner to Google was not going to have any substantial consequence for folks like me, who are busy trying to create European tech companies that can actually COMPETE WITH GOOGLE. Instead of claiming that Google is anti-innovation -- a claim that just does not stick -- I would suggest you focus more on what's happening to Europeans' data on Google.

Europeans think about data privacy differently than Americans. And in Europe, the European Commission should make it clear that companies doing...

Author: James Kinsella
An EU law suit won’t help Euro tech companies


That's what the European Commission has discovered. Yes, it's been obvious to the casual Google user for quite some time. But, ok, now it's official. Google promotes its products and those of its advertisers over those who don't pay Google anything -- and sometimes over those who actually DO pay Google. 

The company with the charming "do no evil" tagline turns out to do EVERYTHING it can to do GOOD by GOOGLE. And let's face facts: that's what successful companies tend to do. And, yes, there IS a need for appropriate regulation to inhibit the natural tendency toward innovation-...

Author: James Kinsella
Data protection in a world dominated by American web companies

While you were sleeping, what’s your data gotten up to? Might it have nipped across the pond, had a fling or two with servers in New York or Los Angeles? When it’s back on your screen in the morning, it looks alright, just the way you expect to see it, really. But did anyone take advantage of it on its trip. And what did it bring home? Exactly whom did it meet on its transatlantic heels up?

Yes, it’s time to start thinking about your data like this.

The European Union’s Court of Justice is doing just that. Many believe this issue of where data sits doesn’t matter. A 15-year-old ruling by the European Commission...

Author: James Kinsella

It looks like some of the smart money is coming back to the Old World

In Silicon Valley, private valuations have gotten so high that in some cases they are beating the values those same companies later fetch in the PUBLIC markets. That means investors in the final rounds of funding a new company in the US sometimes actually fare WORSE than investors who put their money in the PUBLIC flotation of the same company. Why DO they fare worse, even though they’ve taken on more risk.

In the Valley, it seems any Googler* with two years’ experience is being chased by investors to launch a startup, with decreasing returns on the risk investors are taking. By the time some of the good...

Author: James Kinsella

Is Mario Draghi your friend? I am not talking about the kind of “friend” with whom you would share una coppa di vino in a Brussels wine bar. I mean a real friend. You know the kind of guy: when you wake up at 2.30 AM with another great idea how to make your startup grow, would Mario be someone you would want to email to get his feedback? Is Mario that kind of friend?

It’s an important question to ask about the head of the European Central Bank because he could be a particularly useful friend right about now. He’s got a lot of cash – in fact, he more or less controls the Eurozone’s money-printing machine. And just last week, through the magic of “quantitative easing,” he...

Author: James Kinsella
What do you think is going to be the engine that drives future economic growth and creates new jobs?

US President Obama just made a high-profile bet for digital startups. His “net neutrality” decision announced in early March is a huge vote of confidence for these enterprises. And who did he bet against? The telecoms and cable companies whose pipes digital startups run on.

The “pipes” industry has gone through a spectacular expansion and dramatic contraction in the US over the last 20 years. Telecoms and cable company consolidations as well as efficient new kit to increase the capacity of the pipes has resulted in big job losses over the last decade. Meanwhile, the likes of Amazon...

Author: James Kinsella

I started my first company about the time President Obama was graduating Harvard Law School. Yeah, I’m older than he, but that’s not the point. This is: I and some thousands of others can claim to have been “present at the birth” of the new digital economy, back in the early 1990s. I am here to testify that not ALL of them were Americans.

“We have owned the Internet,” Mr. Obama said recently. “Our companies have created it, expanded it, perfected it in ways that they can’t compete.”

Since I was a very eager participant in some of that building, I feel confident in reporting that it didn’t happen on only one side of the Atlantic. My partner and I launched our first company...

Author: James Kinsella

Every European knows that Europe is a hugely diverse geography -- from the fjords of the North to the sandy beaches of the Med and the Alps in between. Most Americans are terrible at these European details, and they show it in how they approach doing business here.

It's as if the Americans think Europe is FLAT, except for that bumpy part in Switzerland, wherever that is. As it turns out, that approach is a big advantage, at least when it comes to developing, marketing and selling technology.

Twitter, Facebook and Google and Microsoft, Apple and IBM before them have proved that ignorance of the details -- or at least a willingness to ignore those differences -- is a better...