back to article 'Lots of failed startups came out of Campus': Google axes London hub because startup scene 'doesn't need' another 7 floors of workspace

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed another casualty: Google Campus, the flash Shoreditch startup hub launched in 2012 to grow London's tech scene. Google said the pandemic had "demonstrated" it could somehow support the startup community without occupying a seven-storey building in the heart of Central London. The shift to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never overheard such hyperbole in my life

    I spent an afternoon there, I'm a veteran of startup failure and semi-success. It was full of dreamers with no dev skills looking for some sap to do their bidding (as they are the 'ideas-person, fantasists unconcerned with economics, some who saw it more of a trendy 'scene' than of business, but it was a nice space if you could ignore the mass of cables everywhere into people's iFruit machines.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Never overheard such hyperbole in my life

      I couldn't understand our local equivalent - think Silicon Valley meets Tellytubbies

      Then I heard a business podcast about how they're are basically the C21 equivalent of a nightclub.

      Nobody is there to start a successful company, there are a few trust-fund/credit-card funded 'founders' dreaming. A lot of marketing/management-consultant sharks trying to hook up with them and a large number of attractive boys/girls/etc hoping to 'market' themselves to the next Zuckerberg.

      1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Never overheard such hyperbole in my life

        I'll start with a premise that power is a drug.

        Wealthy people are bored and constantly chase that power high. This is where all these start ups come in.

        People present these "life changing" ideas and bidding for their new god / guru who will pour the money and get the things moving.

        If you ever worked in a start up, you probably know what happens when an investor comes to visit. The whole office prepares for a second coming. The wealthy investor can feel like a king, the dopamine rush and all those people trying to please him or her.

        Of course a year or so later the whole thing wears off. It gets sold or folds.

        Onto the next one.

        There is also the tax fiddle aspect to it, but maybe let's not go there.

        1. ITMA Bronze badge

          Power????:

          There are only two objectives when it comes to "power":

          1. Aquiring it.

          2. Once you have it, KEEPING IT.

          Anything and everything else is pure "bum fluff".....

    2. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Never overheard such hyperbole in my life

      Or in other words, free food and people to talk about nothing.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Accelerators

    Produce far more failures than successes. I've been part of 5 startups, none that participated in accelerators, but 3 were VC funded, one a boot strap and one a still birth. One VC funded went through IPO, one VC funded & the boot strap were sold to mature companies, one VC funded crashed after burning through almost $200M, and one never made it very far as we failed to raise enough cash. I'd probably tell someone starting anew to look at accelerators with a jaundiced eye and be careful what you sign. The people running them are not doing so because they are altruistic.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Accelerators

      Simple guide: success is inversely proportional to style.

      Central London location with a rent only google can afford, artisanal coffee machines, motorized standing desks, and motivational meditation rooms = fscked

      Some cheap cubical farm space you share, with somebody taking care of internet and electricity, with perhaps a receptionist to handle deliveries and a meeting room in case we ever get customers = a chance.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Accelerators

        Some cheap cubical farm space you share etc

        And make that somewhere near where your can afford to live.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          And make that somewhere near where your can afford to live.

          Doing it in a traditional back bedroom avoids all the posers and hypesters.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Accelerators

          Some cheap cubical farm space you share etc

          In the Boston area where I live, one of the most abusive sucker punches the unwary fall for is to have some VC's contribution be space in South Boston, Kendell Square, or Fresh Pond where the real estate costs are huge, so the unwary suckers founders have to give away twice as much equity per square foot than they would taking space out beyond 128. Worse, if their startup has any traction, they find the best people live way beyond 128 and won't commute into Boston or Cambridge. So eventually they'll move the company anyway, but they'll have wasted equity along the way.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Accelerators

      It's not like that money got wasted. Most likely this is just a way of careful tax planning that looks like legitimate investing... ;-)

  3. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Am I reading this correctly - they have a fund that helps people based on their skin colour? How is that not racist?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Can anyone else hear that high-pitch tone? It sounds like someone is blowing a dog whistle.

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        Exclusion on race is racism

        @AC “Can anyone else hear that high-pitch tone? It sounds like someone is blowing a dog whistle.”

        No sounds like someone pointing out that funding someone based solely on the colour of their skin is racist. It is also divisive.

        Earlier before I read this article, I read this one on the BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-57558746.

        One of the points in it was this.

        “For university entry, 16% of white British pupils on free meals get places, compared with 59% of black African pupils on free meals, 59% of Bangladeshi pupils on free meals and 32% of black Caribbean pupils on free meals.”

        So, there would be nothing wrong, if a company setup a 2-million-pound fund to help “pupils on free meals” get into university but said it was only open to white British pupils. I don’t think so, that would be racist and divisive.

        If you exclude someone based on their race it is racism.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Exclusion on race is racism

          Other than Oxbridge (maybe London), UK University entry requirement is based purely on A-level exam results. "AAB/ABB/BBB/CCC/etc."

          Given that all the applications are automatically processed by computers, I don't think that you can claim positive bias to ethnic minorities.

          1. Falmari Silver badge

            Re: Exclusion on race is racism

            @AC “Given that all the applications are automatically processed by computers, I don't think that you can claim positive bias to ethnic minorities.”

            I was claiming nothing of the sort as I am sure you know. I was pointing out that if a company provided funding for pupils of low-income families to increase their chances of getting into university but restricted it white British pupils as they are the least likely to go on to university, it would be racist.

            Providing funding based on skin colour no matter how good your intentions are, is racist. It is divisive, creating division and resentment. Conditions in which the seeds of racism can take root and grow. The very conditions that racists will exploit. It provides them with both ammunition and a platform from which to spout their racism.

            Good intentions no matter how good, are not an excuse for discrimination. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Exclusion on race is racism

          Are pupils excluded from free school meals or uni because they are white then? If you are researching then go look up the figure for business loans and financing for non-whites in a few countries. Also check out mortgages for homeowners.

          Woof Woof!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So all you pulled out of that whole article is a line about funding for black-owned start-ups.

      Are you upset at those nasty billionaire Marxists helping the BLM folks...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        https://newsthump.com/2021/06/22/if-white-privilege-is-real-then-why-dont-i-have-a-butler-asks-moron/

  4. keithpeter Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Coffee and Power

    "Unlike competing workspaces, literally anyone with a laptop could show up and toil from the Chocolate Factory's public areas, provided they'd registered in advance."

    Someone up the page said that what people need is just a cube farm and Internet. I'd agree with that and I would remind people about the Second Life geezer's Coffee and Power work space experiment in (of all places) San Francisco back in the teens.

    As I toddle around the centre of Birmingham, I see football pitch sized areas unused in former shops and I see reception areas the size of medium restaurants with security guards and loos in office foyers. Just wondering why we can't find desks and tables for people to drop in and do stuff. Perhaps charge a 'badge fee' towards insurance and costs &c.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Coffee and Power

      > I see football pitch sized areas unused in former shops and I see reception areas the size of medium restaurants with security guards

      This is to assert dominance over workers living in shoe boxes. Average worker would never dream of affording even a fraction of space that appears like is being wasted. This creates a Stockholm sydromesque relationship, where employee is excited to go to work, to admire being in such space and at the same time thinking how much tax he has to pay and how much tax the corporation he works for paid and feeling being violated.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Coffee and Power

      "Just wondering why we can't find desks and tables for people to drop in and do stuff. Perhaps charge a 'badge fee' towards insurance and costs &c."

      Mostly because the owners of those buildings are hoping for long-term renters to return and put a business there, and they don't want to manage the complexities of lots of people who don't pay much. Not that that logic is perfect or ends well, but it's usually what they're thinking. I suppose someone else could try setting up that as a business and carry the risk if people don't show up, but I don't want to do it and I'm guessing you don't either.

      Space is one of the hardest parts of certain startup-style experiments as it's the most expensive and can't be obtained cheaper by working hard. The good news for tech-related startups though is that, unlike a lot of others, the early steps don't have to be done in an expensive space. I've likewise seen plenty of spaces which would be optimal for very small businesses or community uses, but it's not going to happen without someone to handle the bill.

  5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    The Mayor

    Did Boris ever drop in for a drink and nibble on some snacks when he was in the area?

  6. Howard Sway Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Lots of failed startups came out of Campus, man

    From what was described in the article, this should surprise no-one whatsoever.

    If your main memory of a place is the free food, there must have been little of worth actually happening.

    Glad I will never set foot in somewhere like this again, I saw some abysmal bullshit during the first dotcom boom, but this sounds even worse.

    "Wow, I'm sucking down a juice in the Google Campus, tapping away on my Macbook, networking with the dudiest of dudes, I'm gonna be riiiiiiiiich!"

    Learn some proper tech skills the hard way, instead of hanging out somewhere in the hope you'll find an easy bandwagon to jump on, you vacuous twerps.

  7. Byz

    I used to run mobile app programming meetups there until...

    From 2015 to 2017 I used to run meetups to help people learn to build a simple iOS mobile app and learn some basic coding.

    I used to get about 60 people turn up and the lady who ran the training spaces really loved me doing the courses and it was one of their most popular events (I even got invited to the Christmas event in 2017 for running them).

    When you went down to the cafe you could see most of the people were techies trying to build a business.

    The lady who ran the training events then went on maternity leave. A new person was taken on, they decided that teaching people to code was so 2017 and that pilates / mindfulness sessions were the way to go.

    I visited again at the end of 2018 and the whole place had changed you could see that their were very few techies left and it was mainly full of people just wanting to hangout with their friends. It had lost the buzz it once had sadly.

    It had just become an office space and no longer a campus.

    Never went back afterward.

  8. big_D Silver badge

    The whole point...

    of the Internet is that you can do "it" anywhere, whether that be business, pleasure, setting up a startup etc.

    Berlin also has a big startup scene.

    But the problem is, the concentration of people in these areas drives up the prices, so the cost of starting up is significantly higher than if you started up somewhere else. The old-world "seat of power" mentality still rules the roost among Internet startups, which is just plain silly, the "Internet" is their seat of power, which means they don't need to be in one place.

    Likewise, before the pandemic, companies like Google, Microsoft & Co. were going on about distance working, virtual meetings, communications tools that allowed people to work from anywhere, yet they still tried to stuff more and more of their own people into overcrowded and over-priced pieces of real-estate... Instead of actually living their marketing departments' promises.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The whole point...

      If you're a large corporation, it's more difficult to deliver the kool aid to everyone's house. It's easier if the employees come to you to drink it every day.

  9. SecretSonOfHG

    The absolute majority of start ups fail

    And this is because they are "start ups" If they future were not so uncertain they would be called "established business" instead. Now, seriously, I read an statistic some time ago that 9 out of 10 small business, regardless of being technology based or not, don't last more than two years.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    These "offices" are surprisingly expensive...

    If you think getting office space in a startup accelerator is a good way to get your startup team together, think again. You get to pay £500 a month for a room the size of the dining room you already have at home. If you want to meet outside go to Starbucks - at least they have decent coffee...

    1. Oh Matron!

      Re: These "offices" are surprisingly expensive...

      Starbucks do NOT have decent coffee. Putrid cat filth, maybe

      There's plenty of indy coffee shops in Nodnol, that will be much more happier for your business

      And there's plenty of indie shared space places in London too, which get you a desk AND coffee

    2. Red Sceptic

      Re: These "offices" are surprisingly expensive...

      Excellent advice - but have to disagree about the quality of Starbucks coffee!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lots of failed startups came out of Campus, man.

    brilliant motto! But hey, that's what it's all about, bro, failure turns into resilience, resilience turns into success, success turns into fame, fame turns into money, money turns into more money (or failure), etc. Jesus. H.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lots of the ideas and start-ups failed? Well, that doesn't have much of a tech angle, it's true of all business ventures. Restaurants, lawn-care services, retail shops, etc. start and fold without the glamour of cyber anything, and generally without the free bagels. Sometimes one takes off and becomes a modest success. way of the world, innit?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022