back to article Cameron's 'Google Review' sparked by killer quote that never was

Prime Minister David Cameron launched a sweeping review of UK intellectual property law based on an assertion – that the founders of Google believed they could "never have started their company in Britain" – he can't support, from a source nobody can find. We know this because new information released by No 10 in response to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the review finds.......

    Copyright terms aren't long enough so we are going to double them !

    Meanwhile behind closed doors brown envelopes are passed.

  2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    The sentiment is accurate

    I started my own company in the USA - it's not a big one but we have a nice market share and I have to agree with the feeling that the "quote" expresses. There's no way that I could have started my company in the UK (where I lived for 25 years) - but it's got nothing to do with IP ...

    1. UK banks are generally uninterested in lending money to start-up companies.

    2. The UK has a maze of regulations that you have to comply with to start a company.

    3. If you need tech people - engineers, designers etc - they are simply not generally available.

    I could go on ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The sentiment is accurate

      Dunno about anyone else, but that's me convinced ... companies are regulated? Buggeration.

    2. David 164

      Re: The sentiment is accurate

      The only point agree with is the funding. it very unlikely that Page and Brin would have found the money to start up the company, let alone the money to keep it running for 5 years without going to the markets or it being bought out by a technology giant from the US before it took off in a big way.

      It actually very simple to start a company now, just a single on-line form with most of it being a copy and past job from set examples, an £18.50 fee. There several firms that will do this for £50 including the fee.

      Google seem to have done okay at finding UK engineers and designers (we got some of the best designers in the world with several world renown design universities in several fields), with them employing several thousand people in the UK.

      Finance is the area we really struggle in, very few individuals in the UK are willing to put there own money into businesses , in the Silicon Valley it not the banks that finance these up, it investment firms and individuals who often built technology firms themselves that finance new start ups.

      Even when you do find such individual or investment firms, the equity they ask for is usually approaching double or even triple the amount they would ask in Silicon valley for the same amount of money with the same valuation on the firm, in the UK they tend to ask to have decision making powers in the company and long term business plans, neither is really brother with in Silicon valley not with the initial investment anyway, they tend to take the approach of build it and figure out how to make money from it in the future. If you take Google the bloke who gave them there start up cash, sign them a check and left them to it, that would rarely happen in the UK.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: The sentiment is accurate

        You're correct, five years funding for a search engine without much of a business plan would not happen here.


        "Google seem to have done okay at finding UK engineers and designers (we got some of the best designers in the world with several world renown design universities in several fields), with them employing several thousand people in the UK."

        Google doesn't employ several thousand people in the UK - and most of the employees are in sales.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    the man behind the curtain

  4. Daniel 1

    In other news

    Prime ministers occasionally make up things to justify policies of dubious worth.

    "I'm shocked, shocked... to find that gambling is going on in here!"

  5. N2

    No surprises here

    The mere thought of dealing with the tallest of ivory towers, staffed by the most dogmatic bureaucrats whose mice pointers hover above the 'issue fine' button in Companies House is enough to send anyone elsewhere.

    1. min

      Re: No surprises here


      i thought they were still in the age of issue cards and the like, hence Came-loon's crusade to bring them into the current century.

  6. ed2020

    "All of this leaves the Prime Minister looking quite hands-off..."

    "Or, if you're less inclined to be charitable, he looks less like the boss, and more like a ventriloquist for lobbyists and his advisors."

    I'm inclined to be even less charitable than that. It makes him look like a liar to me.

  7. George 8

    Great stuff.

    Andrew. Fantastic. Keep it up. ElReg finally biting the hand again.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ok, so the quote is maybe bogus, but hang on a sec, something isnt right, i mean, either the UK is full of folk incapable of doing something like that, the UK has such bad tax laws no one wants to do anything like that, or compertition is too great and all our good work gets snapped up by larger companies in other countries before it hits the light of day, Which given the many historical examples of our countries handy worked made famous by America wouldnt surprise me!

    So never mind the reason for a review, would it not be prudent to find out why we always seem to lose the good ones or never get them in the first place...

    1. David 164

      Re: question

      Yes it would be a good idea.

      But this is not the review that David Cameron has launch.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: No surprises here

    "Every piece of government has the opposite effect to that intended."

    It's way easier to get a company off the ground outside the UK than inside it - sure, there are a few examples to the contrary but in real life the chances are that nobody is going to lend you the money or support to get your idea off the ground (unless you went to school with the Bank Manager) and the only help that you'll get from the government is a list of all the regulations that you have to meet - and regular inspections from the authorities to make sure you're not breaking any rules.

    I have some friends who did manage to get what is now a very large entertainment services company going in the UK - but that only got off the ground because they started it in their own house and hide from the bureaucrats until they were so big that they had to declare their income and go legit. They are doing very nicely now but would have sank without a trace if they had started up bound in the red tape.

  10. Keep Refrigerated

    Quote may not be true...

    But the sentiment probably is.

    One only needs to read up on how Crown Copyright was used by the previous government to prevent the release of much public data and records and maintain monopoly of 'private' companies (i.e. the Post Office, Ordinance Survey); particularly to small start-ups that couldn't afford the fees on the ever-changing license T&Cs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Quote may not be true...

      Ah, good. As long as the sentiment is probably true, it's fine to just make shit up.

  11. Notas Badoff

    "Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie." Mae West

    "...what the providence of the claim is."

    Oh I think holiness was not involved here.

    The word Google's "UK public policy manager at the time" was trying to pocket with the ball caroming around inside his skull was "provenance".

    That's why they charge you with 'possession', because they don't care about its provenance (unless you're will to testify against your supplier).

  12. Stevie


    "provenance", surly?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What's truly strange, Andrew, is that you don't acknowledge the man speaks truth. You've had enough fun knocking Shoreditch to know that Google or Farcebook or Yahoo! or $RandomHumungousGlobalInternetCompany could not have started in the UK. Why not focus on the real problem rather than nitpicking over footnotes? Everyone knows the statement is true, whether or not Larry or Sergey said it to Dave during the time he has been in No. 10.

    Try writing something about why, despite the UK being the worlds most e-commerce active country, we can't seem to actually make serious money on the internet. When was the last time we had a multigazillion pound IPO of a UK internet company? Hmmm?

    Even if you can't figure out how to do it (in which case I guess you'd jack in the job at El Reg), surely you can begin to put your finger on why it's not happening?

    More wood and a little less of the trees please.

    1. spiny norman


      The article is about whether the quote used by Cameron to launch the review of IP law was actually said by the founders of Google, as he claimed. The evidence, as presented in the article at least, suggests it wasn't.

      An article about why UK companies are unable to make money on the internet would be a different article. In that case you could do worse than just quote Richard Holway and Anthony Miller verbatim.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I wish he had written a different article! Nevertheless, props to El Reg for allowing the parent through moderation.

        And thanks to @spiny norman for the link to the TMV article. Surely it can't be as simple as that though? Are we all as spineless and parochial as the article makes out? Is all that is needed for our tech peeps to get on a leadership course and grow some?

        As to where the quote may have come from: this kind of quote takes on a life of its own - as Andrew helpfully highlights. Given the close connections between the Tories and Googlebods the words could have been communicated second hand via word of mouth, or even directly at, for example, Davos, or some other cocktail party for globetrotting hobnobbers. There are any number of ways in which the words could have been spoken actually, and communicated accurately without ever having been committed to paper or bytes. Sound waves have served as an effective and reliable communication medium for millennia. Certainly an FOI request is not the be all and end all.

        My point being that the exact channel the communication took is irrelevant, and, crucially, unverifiable. It's a bit like saying, "You can't get to Sheffield from London via the M1 because there's been an accident." It doesn't mean you can't get to Sheffield from London. There's any number of alternative routes to take.

        Andrew, what's the next potential channel of communication you're going to have to disprove to make your point stand, and the next, and the next, and the next .... ?

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