back to article Cameron's Tech City: Desks? Yes. Cash? Yes. Coders? Nope

Lack of skilled staff is hampering the growth of almost half of all tech businesses based around East London's Silicon Roundabout, a survey has found. Research firm GfK asked top-ranking staff from than a hundred companies based within Shoreditch's Tech City cluster about the problems faced by their businesses. 77 per cent of …


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  1. taxman

    Same thing at GDS

    Lots of people who know about fonts and how to use crayons........but coding, application use, common sense - complete lacking.

    1. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: Same thing at GDS

      Jeez, any excuse for slagging off poor old GDS.


  2. Buzzword

    There's no such thing as a lack of skilled workers. There's only a shortage at a given price. In other words they just aren't paying enough. Shoreditch's start-ups have to compete for talent, and they're up against the City's well-paid financial sector next door. I've never heard a City bank complain of a shortage of developers.

    1. xyz

      EC1 ~ £600pd, E1 ~ £???

      I've got a horrible suspicion that Techy City-ists see coders in the same way the Victorians saw navvies.

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: EC1 ~ £600pd, E1 ~ £??? @Buzzword

        Actually, there is such a thing as a lack or skilled workers. You pay more, then a skilled worker moves to your place. But he leaves a gap where he left, which needs to be filed with another skilled worker.

        If there are fewer skilled workers than jobs, the amount paid is irrelevant to making up that shortfall in the short or medium term.

        1. Buzzword

          Re: EC1 ~ £600pd, E1 ~ £??? @Buzzword

          You're assuming that the supply of skilled workers is fixed - when in fact we have a highly flexible labour force and we can import workers from the rest of Europe. If salaries in Shoreditch aren't enough even to attract an unemployed Spaniard or Greek, then they're definitely not paying enough.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: EC1 ~ £600pd, E1 ~ £??? @Buzzword

            Quote: "when in fact we have a highly flexible labour force and we can import workers from the rest of Europe".

            What in particular makes you think that an experienced Czech (most german companies develop there), Bulgarian (Vmware, HP, IBM, etc) or Romanian (Amazon) coder will forfeit his 40k+ Eu paycheck to move to a 27k £ paycheck in a startup in London.

            Is it the cost of life (only 2-3 times higher)? Is it the wonderful working environment (I sometimes treat the Office as a documentary)? Or the opportunity to become the resident Lord Bong's right hand (yeah, like it will happen)?

            Dream on. The only thing we can import, import presently and will import from the rest of Europe are the poor guys that wash your Audi regardless of the weather in the supermarket parking lot. The import bonanza is _OVER_. The companies which have moved _OUT_ of India (Vmware is quite open and frank about why they moved software development from India to Bulgaria) have moved into Eastern Europe and are paying 40-80k Eu _THERE_. At the living standard there it is the same as getting 200k in London. Yeah, right, like any of these people are going to move. Bollocks...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is most definitely the case. Even aside from the City, you've got top-line consultancy and services companies (you know - the business sectors the UK actually excels in) offering new graduates £30k right out of the door, with big chunky golden hellos and tax free loans and stellar career opportunities within genuinely global businesses working with clients drawn exclusively from the world's headline stock exchanges.

      Why would a first class graduate ever settle for the £22k some Shoreditch startup is offering them in that case?

      Similarly, why would an experienced professional take the risk of having an absolute black hole on their CV from working for yet-another-music-streaming-startup?

      There is a skills shortage in the UK, but the problem at the "silicon roundabout" is they're expecting to get staff on Newcastle wages in London Zone 1. The spads behind this branding exercise forget one of the reasons Silicon Valley was so successful was land, offices and living were all very, very cheap.

      1. Rikkeh

        Why would a first class graduate ever settle for the £22k....?

        The only way would be if he/she felt like a valued employee, had a share of the equity and/or got something else that working for your own startup traditionally is supposed to offer over working for a big company.

        Suspect that many of the real life Lord Bongs might have different ideas on how to treat the people who merely "implement" their "vision".

      2. Natalie Gritpants Silver badge

        Agreed, Silicon Valley is not in Washington or even New York. When it started it was in a nice place to live. Not true any more but it now has the brand.

        I live in beautiful Somerset and there is no money that would make me move to London. I'll contract there but the closer to London the higher the price to compensate for commute time and hotel costs. Currently in Borehamwood and working from home on Monday and Friday so it's bearable

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > there is no money that would make me move to London.

          Same here, top of my job search criteria is "Location: not London".

          It's an expensive and unpleasant place.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Frankee Llonnygog

          Boreham Wood - bearable?

          Geography meets nominative determinism.

      3. Shagbag

        tax free loans


        Quick. Somebody call Peggy Hodge and her enterage of the economically clueless. These magic roundabout companies are "doing evil" and must be stopped.


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: tax free loans

          @ Shagbag:

          Hahah, I noticed that slip as soon as I'd posted it. Obviously meant to read interest-free loans. £5-10,000 to relocate to London, zero interest and an extremely flexible repayment schedule is not uncommon if you're taking up a job with one of the big consultancy/services firms.

    3. birchanger_toper

      Of course there's such a thing as a lack of skilled workers in certain fields. Always has been. There will never be a match between supply and demand, especially when the skills required are so fluid. Back in my day employers were expected to TRAIN their employees, instead of moaning to that ferret-faced Secretary of State for Education that schools ought to be doing it all for them.

      If you're not prepared to train them then you've no option other than to offer big bucks.

    4. trykala

      Buzzword is bang on the, err, money.

      When I graduated last year, at my riper-than-usual age for a grad - 29, I couldn't accept jobs for the pay offered in the start-ups in Shoreditch. I had to wait 6 months for my dev job with a decent salary, and thankfully got one in the end, but not in the Silicon Roundabout area

    5. birchanger_toper

      Of course there's such a thing as a lack of skilled workers in certain fields. Always has been. There will never be an exact match between supply and demand, especially when the skills required are so fluid. Back in my day employers were expected to TRAIN their employees, instead of moaning to that ferret-faced Secretary of State for Education that schools ought to be doing it all for them.

      If you're not prepared to train then you've no option other than to offer big bucks.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    get real!

    Strangely in this brave new world all of them have an approach from the Dickensian world of Scrooge and Marley. They can only see a person is working by having a bod on a seat they can see.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where are testers on that list?

    What would they come under?

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: Where are testers on that list?


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where are testers on that list?


        Sadly, for the denizens of Bullshit Circle that is probably all too true. And doubtless a similar attitude to performance testing: Go live and pray!

    2. Joe_Soap

      Re: Where are testers on that list?

      Companies don't value testers the same way as they do developers, specially in the new and shiny "Agile" world where you only need a couple of developers and someone with some photoshop experience, and you'll have the newest killer app, it's such a naieve way of looking at things. I have been trying to find a decent test manager for months and am struggling to wade through the endless dross that keeps on being put forward. It would be refreshing to see the startups in this area redefining the software development paradigm and really changing the way that things are done.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where are testers on that list?

        Ahh, Agile. Bunch of idiots going round in circles because they lack a fucking clue about process.

        Testing: The market for testers isn't bad, but it's a simple fact it will always earn less than actual development (I say that as a former developer, back when Delphi was still trendy, who now tests). The advantage of the job is that a lot of the skills are innate. If you're able to read a turgid set of requirements (or better still, communicate effectively in the absence of requirements) and draw a picture of what (and who) you're meant to be testing from these (like old systems analysis), then you're greater than fifty percent of the way there.

        That's not to say there are no hard skills. Strong UNIX/LINUX and database skills go a long way, and it helps to keep an eye on current automation technologies. But overall, the job isn't as fad driven as development.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Where are testers on that list?

        Decent test manager you say? I may have just the man for you.

        Where's the job?

        Is ther a way of PMing you?

        (Anon as I don't want my friend knowing I'm pimping him out.)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Also consider

    The cost for uni leavers to live anywhere near shoreditch for less than £350 per week rent, even a flatshare

    1. Rikkeh

      Re: Also consider

      Then again, a couple of months ago I visited some friends who live in Mountain View (one works in tech, the other at Stamford) and the rent is similarly crazy in what (at first) looks like a much more suburban area. When you factor in the telephone number healthcare costs (given that you're fired at will and insurance won't cover an awful lot of stuff, they've also been cautious and set aside a big wedge for unexpected crises in this area) and surprisingly similar overall tax rate, the cost o' living as a function of the salary isn't all that different.

      Not saying that the rent isn't too damn high (as a Londoner, I can assure you that it is), just saying that Silicon Valley (if that's who we're trying to benchmark against) seems to have exactly the same problem.

  6. dajames Silver badge

    Why an I not surprised?

    Techies are notoriously bad at selling themselves well.

    I look at these figures and I see that the sales and marketing types have found it relatively easy to blag their way into a job, but the recruiters haven't taken a shine to the people who applied for the research, development, and coding roles.

    I'd say that the problem is that the recruiters don't understand the people they're recruiting well enough, and that they should learn to be better at rejecting affable but useless sales people as well as better at recognizing the valuable skills offered by slightly socially inept techies.

    1. Christian Berger

      Re: Why an I not surprised?

      My experience is more that recruiters don't understand anything at all. They neither understand the job nor the people and just randomly match and mix. Besides in my experience companies which outsource their recruiting obviously don't care about the people they get, otherwise they'd do recruiting themselves.

  7. Gordon Pryra

    Pay for what you get

    You want slaves with the skills go to India

    You want people to come to the arse end of nowhere every day its going to cost you.

  8. jswinterburn

    London centric obsessing

    What happens when you put all your jobs competing for the same people in a place where it's vastly too expensive and not that nice to live - this is why places like Cambridge, Manchester or Edinburgh do all the real heavy lifting. Of course that doesn't fit with the London centric obsession of politicians.

    1. James Hughes 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: London centric obsessing

      What he said.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: London centric obsessing

      Why, given this day and age, and especially given that techies are best placed to leverage telecommuting, is geographical location an issue at all.

      Why not place your office in Brum (saving a fortune in property) and get people to dial in?

      One of my companies subsidiaries has become an industry recognised centre of excellence by providing a system for expert resources to work remotely. They don't come to us. We go to them.

      I reckon it's a shadowy cabal of coffee shops who are terrified of losing their trade from stations and airports .....

      1. Winkypop Silver badge

        Re: London centric obsessing

        I tele-commuted across 2,700km every day for 3.5.years.

        Apart from a few flights over for the xmas party, I never saw the people at base office.

        Worked very well.

        1. ukgnome

          Re: London centric obsessing

          Totally agree - If they moved location to somewhere else they wouldn't have this problem.

          Based on rail links and the like a great location would be Doncaster. Although it's not everyone's cup of tea!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: London centric obsessing

        "Why not place your office in Brum (saving a fortune in property)..."

        Largely because commericial space in Birmingham isn't that much cheaper and it's largely a shit hole. Speaking from a decade of experience living in the city...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Brum is a shithole" sooooooo boring

          Yes, let's have all the jokes about <insert provincial town/city> being a shithole.

          1) Is London *really* that much better ?

          2) Maybe the reason they are shitholes is because firms insist on having head offices in London. By all means have a presence in London. But not the whole shooting match.

          FWIW I live in Brum, and enjoy being 15 minutes drive from the city centre one way, and 15 minutes from some stunning Worcestershire countryside the other.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Brum is a shithole" sooooooo boring

            "1) Is London *really* that much better ?"

            Unequivocally, yes! I mean that in no small way. My quality of life is significantly better here than it ever was in 10 years of Birmingham. FWIW I lived in Harborne.

            "2) Maybe the reason they are shitholes is because firms insist on having head offices in London. By all means have a presence in London. But not the whole shooting match."

            Transport infrastructure is good and London is where the real money is. The transport in the West Midlands, for what is supposedly the second city, is atrocious. I'm glad that New St is being renovated as, along withthe Pallasades, was a sould destroying place. London is also a great place to live.

            I don't disagree that there is some stunning countryside around Birmingham, but where I live (Wimbledon FTR), I'm 30 minutes from the coast, and not more that 20 from some pretty tidy country side too. In 30 minutes I can be in the heart of one of the most vibrant cities on the face of the earth, that is *truly* multicultural.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: London centric obsessing

        But then... then you would have to live in the North! (of London that is)

      4. fridaynightsmoke

        Re: London centric obsessing

        "Why not place your office in Brum"...

        Shhh, don't tell them that! We don't want Shoreditch twats and 'social media consultants' moving up here, FFS.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: London centric obsessing

          "We don't want Shoreditch twats and 'social media consultants' moving up here, FFS." Of course you wouldn't. They'd displace the Redditch twats and 'recruitment consultants' that the city is full of...

    3. Rikkeh

      Re: London centric obsessing

      Indeed. In some ways, the last thing the UK needs is another industry firmly rooted within the North Circular.

      OK, you're closer to the banks and the venture capitalists, but presumably they can afford to get on a train. Cambridge, Manchester and Edinburgh have much more space and (especially for Manchester) much more of a need for Westminster to take an interest in somewhere outside the South East for once.

  9. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: They forgot the predicate

      "They are hard to recruit when engineers are under paid compared to accountants, lawyers, bankers, doctors (arguably), Union staff and other professions."

      Cobblers. In IT there's a huge range between the top skilled contractors on the peachiest gigs, and the lowest paid wage slaves working for cr@p companies in poor conditions. And that's the case in all the examples you name. Take lawyers, they're all loaded aren't they? Well, no actually. If you're talking about a partner at Slaughter & May we're talking telephone numbers. But if you're a provincial barrister then you'd be hugely skilled, and still perhaps only earning £40k a year. Things are worse for mere solicitors - my next door neighbour earns less than I do and he's mananging partner of a small regional law firm. Accountants, yeah. I work with enough of 'em to know that they earn less than the IT bods of my organisation in very rough terms. Bankers, same again - City investment bankers might be driving Ferraris, most of the industry doesn't. Doctors, same again, with rubbish hours, decades of training, and just a handful earning fat salaries - GP's are certainly on an undeservedly cushy number, but you go and work a Saturday night in A&E as an SHO, and tell me the pay's good.

      Of course, if you're right that they are all over-paid, then reskill and go fill your boots. There's some round here might contribute to your El Reg forums leaving gift.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: They forgot the predicate

        "only earning £40k a year"

        Sucks to be them eh?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They forgot the predicate

          ""only earning £40k a year"

          Sucks to be them eh?"

          Most certainly does. Not only would you need exceptional academic qualifications from your first degree (in law), you then need to do a conversion course, followed by a vocational training course specific to barristery (no, they don't call it that), then they have to secure pupillage (ie learning on the job with a barrister's chambers), and then they need to secure a "tenancy" at a chambers. The drop out rate at each stage is high, with less than a quarter of those who pay for their vocational training securing a tenancy. I'm no lawyer, so it's no skin off my nose, but ask yourself if you'd spend a year of your life (plus course fees, living costs, foregone earnings) for a 50% chance of securing a training contract, which then pays about £20k for a year, but also has a 50% chance that you won't be able to secure a job at the end of it. If all goes well then you unless you're a top flight London barrister then you will be earning £30k-£50k. And you've got to pay expenses, because as a barrister, even in chambers, you're effectively self employed, so have to pay your share of the support staff, and whatever you get paid is only as secure as the next self employed man's income. There's a few households get that much from the "benefits" system.

          Going back to Eadon's comment. The other man's grass is always greener. It's only when you stand on it you see the dog eggs, leatherjacket damage, ryegrass clumps, bald patches and moss.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They forgot the predicate

            "Sucks to be them eh?"

            Most certainly does."

            Then in the presence of all that bad stuff in legal careers, surely there'd not be much competition for law places at university etc because the subject is dead boring and the career is crap? Y'know, in the same way as there's not much competition for most science courses 'cost although the subject is fascinating, the UK wages of science are crap.

            No? Thought not.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They forgot the predicate

        "you go and work a Saturday night in A&E"

        I've tried it as a patient or carer several times in two different hospitals in different parts of the country in the last few years. Have you?

        The SHOs might well be doing a decent job, the invisible senior managers aka spreadsheet jockeys could benefit from being forcibly introduced to few realities.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You wouldn't get me anywhere near that poluted sh*hole called London, whatever the money

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But other polluted shitoles are OK? You provincial really need to get you heads out of your arses...

  11. Don Jefe

    Startup Quandary

    Startups often confuse ideas with the realities of doing business. Too many times their heads are in the clouds and they are unable to materialize their ideas without top notch help. They can't afford the qualified help they need so instead of begging for more money and hiring over their heads they need to take risks on the under experienced staff and manage through the associated difficulties. The management teams of most tech startups are under qualified in business so they can grow together. Taking those risks is what makes companies rich and early staff overnight millionaires when the company is acquired/goes public. In my experience most start up management teams are unable to manage top flight staff anyway, it's always bad if your entire business hinges on the performance of someone who can just walk away when the going gets tough.

  12. RecQuery

    Bullshit you can find them just fine if you're willing to pay enough.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A place that's not that nice to live? Alright Grandad, East London is a pretty happening place to be these days. Overpriced to fuck, no doubt, but there's plenty to see and do. And you don't have to live in the place to work there either, we have this thing in London called 'Public transport', it's not like you're biking 5 hours to Pontefract to work in a mushy peas factory.

    And yeah this shortage of skills is no doubt caused by them paying fuck all. Time to relax Visa laws and insource a load of Indians!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " East London is a pretty happening place to be these days...And yeah this shortage of skills is no doubt caused by them paying fuck all. Time to relax Visa laws and insource a load of Indians!"

      Not far from the City to Brick Lane. If it's Injuns you're after, there's plenty there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nah, British Indians don't count, can't pay them nothing and keep them hanging on an uncertain visa.

  14. stevebrowne

    Rates rates rates

    As others have said, this is more like "we can't get developers to work for peanuts"

  15. Julian Bond

    Gizza job! I can do that!

  16. smudge

    and the easiest to find...

    ... by a clear 13 points, are marketing/PR types.

    Symptomatic of the sorry state of the UK today.

  17. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    There's plenty of skilled coders (I'm one of them), they just don't want to slum it in that Lunnon.

  18. Anomalous Cowshed

    Can't find programmers? Unbelievable

    The culture of bullshit dictates that hot air trumps true ability by an infinite margin, every time. In this country, any useless, second-rate middle manager rates himself higher than the most accomplished technical expert. The most mediocre entrepreneur or "hipster" who is unfit to run a corner shop yet opens a "business" backed by his money or his mates in high places to achieve some mundane aim, will treat technical staff as "boffins", in the pejorative sense of the term (skilled monkeys), nothing but an uncomfortable resource to be exploited and squeezed in order to increase profit margins. Then all of a sudden: "we can't get enough programmers!". Oh dear...

  19. Gunboat

    Can hire me if they like

    Just pay the right amount

    1. PSmith56

      Re: Can hire me if they like

      A well known software company has been advertising a contract for 6 months. The rate is half the normal going rate for the skills they require.

      Unfortunately they can't get one of our subcontinental brothers and sisters to do it due to the language requirements........

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not just the pay

    It's the cost of living, or the long commute, or both. Just finding a place to live in or around London, if looking to rent or looking to get on the bottom rung of the property ladder, is anything but trivial. Add to that a lot of employers in Bullshit Circle are going to be cowboy outfits, the experience isn't necessarily going to be good.

    If some of these companies are looking to pay a starting wage of £22000, then it would be totally unreasonable to expect someone who is trained up and ready to hit the ground running.

    So, all we need now is for some idiot to come along and beg for more work visas for Indians, at a time when there's a dire shortage of work and training for those who are looking for their first break.

  21. Prof. Mine's A. Pint

    Colour me cynical....

    ...but this sounds like the same BS that I heard the last time employers were lobbying the gubberment of the day to relax work permit requirements to fill a supposed skills shortage.

    The UK has an abundance of IT talent, in all areas, at all levels.

    My belief is that too many bean counters think they understand the breadth and depth of our contribution within a corporate structure based upon watching a few episodes of The IT Crowd.

  22. Bernard

    UK industrial policy is a mess

    I'm not a big fan of substantial government intervention, but one basic thing that government can do is encourage different specialisation clusters in different areas (through tax breaks, subsidised provision of necessary infrastructure and making an early decision to channel relevant public projects through firms in that area).

    This creates a low cost base for startups and opportunities for skilled people in parts of the company that are cheap to live. Contrast that with startups in Old Street paying absurd rents and trying to hire staff that need to earn eye-watering wages just to live and no wonder 'Silicon Roundabout' is creaking.

    No other country in the G7 has the financial centre and the political centre in the same city yet we're still trying to push for even further economic expansion in London and wondering why the economy is an unbalanced mess.

  23. David Black

    Live with parents

    Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't a big driver of the start-up culture of California in the 60s through 00s the garage? Said garage wasn't in their tiny appartments in over-priced cities but generally fairly well to-do suburbs of the burgeoning middle-class parents. No over-40 with kids and much sense would stay in London so surely Shoreditch is the worst possible location. Silicon Surrey might have been a better bet. I seem to remember the pharma companies liked Surrey cause they could pay below London rates and generally pick-up highly qualified female (typically) 2nd wage earners who valued other aspects of work more than the salary. Those folks should have pretty grown and qualified kids now...

    But good luck to anyon planning an IT park stretching into the world of NIMBYs that rings the M25 :)

    1. Christian Berger

      Actually not

      The big driver of the start-up culture, particularly in "Silicon Valley" were some naval bases which attracted "defence" industry. Of course garages are useful for starting any company as it keeps your investment down.

  24. Happy rabbit

    What a pity, shouldn't have our sourced all of those IT jobs then! Now there is a gap of trained and experienced coders whom are ageing and very little new blood coming though. Not to mention that very few computing uni courses these days. You sow what you reap.

  25. Dan Paul

    Same BS, Different Bean Counters

    So you say you can't find enough "skilled workers" ????

    This is the same shit from the same pointy haired douchebags that populate Dilbert just coming from a different part of the world.

    The TRUTH IS that there are plenty of skilled people available, they just are not stupid enough to fall for your fatuous bull crap anymore.

    This is ONLY a thinly veiled attempt to justify bringing in cheep Asian programmers. They try this in the USA from time to time and are successful getting more H1B Visas granted and filled, until the poor bastards realize how much they have been cheated of better wages and find a "real" job someplace else.

    These same HR dicks lie to job candidates saying that they don't have the skills yet to justify the full wages and benefits so they are on 'probation" or some such crap, just so they can hold a sword over their heads.

    Remember to check next time before you accept their pittance of an offer.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is a reason...

    It is not about lack of tech talent. That is in abundance. What pisses off software engineers is that 90% of the wannab entrepreneurs are left-over bankers and sales/marketing people. With zero understanding of what it takes to build a tech product. The whole TechCity thing was started to rehabilitate the staffs made redundant by investment banks in London. These people have sucked the fun out of technology startups. Now a days if you walk to the Shoreditch area you will see arrogance combined with stupidity in abundance. Software Engineers are not fools to join this lot.

  27. Paul Silver

    Risk vs reward

    Part of the problem is wages, but the flip side of that is potential rewards. If the startup you join goes well, the idea is that'll offset the crap wages you get at the start.

    The problem comes when the developer looks at the startup idea, works out the chance of it being sold for big money, realises that chance is infinitesimally small, and goes to work for somewhere that can pay more and/or is somewhere nicer to be / easier to commute to etc.

    Lots of developers I know are pretty risk averse. They are more than capable of seeing the flaws in the ideas behind most of the startups in Silicon Roundabout / Tech City, or indeed anywhere else. For the ones who don't mind a bit of risk, they can go freelancing or contracting and earn a hell of a lot more than £22-25K, especially if they contract in London. OK, that doesn't give you the pay out of being an early worker for Instagram, but very, very few businesses get sold for that sort of money, and a bright, capable developer is going to know that.

    So you end up with a very small group of potential applicants who have good skills, and are willing to take the risk of working for somewhere that's likely to flame out in a couple of years, but if it just happens to take off, you probably (well, might) earn enough to pay back all the credit cards you've been living on because of the crap wages. If you're really lucky, you might get a bigger payout, and a chance to work for a nice big company like Yahoo or Google for a couple of years until you earn out your shares, or have the last of your motivation ground out of you by their management processes. Yay, sounds like a great deal!

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