The technology sector is reacting to the news that the UK public has voted to leave the EU.
Several tech giants like Google and Facebook, many of which have large offices in Britain, have set up internal committees, trying to figure out what they will do following the decision. That includes mapping out companies’ potential tax obligations and where they would have to locate London-based staff members whose roles span the region.
Prior to the Referendum it was widely reported that Brexit would be a negative move for the sector. A survey from Juniper Research found that 65% of UK tech employees believe that Brexit will have a negative impact on the global tech industry. However, comments made following the victory for the leave campaign have suggested that, aside from the short-term volatility it will bring, firms need to keep an open mind about the impact it will have.
Jean-Benoit Berty, EY’s UK technology, media and telecommunications leader, said: “In the short-term, we’re likely to see a negative impact on the advertising market, but this will mainly reflect downbeat investor sentiment rather than a structural, long-term hit. However, many of the UK’s media and entertainment sectors currently generate over 50% of revenue from exports to Europe, so it will be important to look out for any changes to trade agreements in these areas closely.”
The theme of uncertainty was echoed by Matt Hunt, CEO of app developer Apadmi Enterprise. He said: “The UK and EU are markets that have continued to offer tech businesses huge growth potential and the international business community has been overwhelmingly supportive of our industry. Technology does not observe boundaries and we have been lucky to enjoy an inspiring array of tech from the UK, Europe and even further afield, which we have been able to access and use for the benefit of our customers.
“The UK tech industry has been in a strong position and the only limitations we’ve faced to do business has been our own ability. With the impending Brexit, there is now a high level of risk and uncertainty over our future and questions are being asked as to how will we be able to build on our success and further grow without the support of the EU.”
Work starts now
Taking the view that the tech sector needs to remain positive, despite the vote going against what the sector had hoped for, Julian David, CEO of techUK said: “Today the British public has decided that the UK should leave the European Union. This is not the outcome that the majority of techUK members were hoping for. It opens up many uncertainties about the future. However, the UK tech sector will play its part in helping the UK to prepare, adapt and thrive in a future outside the European Union.
“Today, just as it was yesterday, the UK remains a great place to start, locate and grow a tech business. It is full of talented, skilled and passionate people with the ideas and creativity to make great things happen. Its consumers are eager and enthusiastic early adopters of new technology. Its world class universities are powerful engines of science and innovation and its politicians and regulators have a strong record of supporting market-led investment. We must now harness these assets like never before and build a world-beating ecosystem for tech that continues the great British tradition of inventing the future.
“Today, at techUK we start work with our members to map out this new future. There will be a long to-do list with many policy and regulatory issues requiring urgent action. Tech companies will need to come together and speak with one voice to ensure their needs are understood and acted upon. To succeed, the UK tech sector needs great people, great infrastructure, world-class science and research, unfettered access to global markets, and a world-class smart and predictable regulatory environment. Without the benefits of EU membership, the UK needs to be at its very best to succeed. That remains our purpose. To make the UK the best place in the world for tech.”
Digital currency growth
While the uncertainty following the Leave vote has sent the pound plunging, digital currency Bitcoin is surging in value.
Its price against the US Dollar rose as high as $1,000 in 2013 and, while it has stabilised since that landmark valuation, it hit a two-and-a-half year high of nearly $775 on 17 June before cratering nearly 25% over the next week. Following the result the currency jumped past $650 just one day after it was at $550.
Further updates and comment will appear here throughout the day.
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