Fear, uncertainty and doubt grips Britain’s tech sector

By Oliver Smith 24 June 2016

But some hope remains.

It’s not the result we’d expected, hoped and prayed for.

After a bitter campaign this morning the UK’s future leaders and entrepreneurs are waking up to a new day, as our country moves to leave the EU.

We spoke to some of the people who have campaigned so strongly to protect Britain’s membership of the European Union, but now face the uncertain reality of Brexit.

An uncertain future

“Make no mistake, the news this morning is seismic.”

That was the response from Debbie Wosskow, CEO of Love Home Swap and founder of the lobbying group Sharing Economy UK.

“It is disappointing that we are in this situation and there is no doubt that the weeks ahead will be turbulent for many different reasons.”

Read more: How To Boss It Like Debbie Wosskow, CEO Love Home Swap

Her sentiments were echoed by Husayn Kassai, CEO and co-founder of Onfido, who described “a powerful state of unease” as Britain woke up to the news of Brexit this morning.

“There is a lot of uncertainty around but one thing for sure is that this is bad news for the tech industry.”

“Gone are our hopes for a digital single market, there will now be question marks over London being a powerhouse for finance and technology, and it is likely to make it harder to attract top calibre tech talent to the UK.”

Now, Kassai added, the country needs to understand the cards it’s been dealt and work out how to move forward.

Read more: Onfido is solving the problem of strangers in our lives

A new day for British tech?

The CEO of Tech City UK, Gerard Grech, said that despite the decision: “The UK remains a world-class country with world-class resources and assets; people, finance, legal framework and a supportive government.”

“Nobody knows how this dramatic decision will eventually play out. But we can be sure the UK will remain at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship, and the tech community – with its spirit of problem-solving – will be at the heart of that.”

Elizabeth Varley, the co-founder and CEO of pioneering workspace TechHub, told The Memo:

“Half my team is European. Half our London membership is from outside the UK. We have TechHubs across Europe.”

“This result will not stop us striving for our goal of bringing together the global tech community, and we will show the world the great things that happen when people work together to raise each other up.”

Read more: TechHub goes global with Google

Hiroki Takeuchi, CEO of GoCardless, said he is now concerned for the next generation of entrepreneurs and businesses:

“We sympathise with the next generation of startups, who may suffer without some of the advantages that got us where we are today.”

Read more: Stripe, GoCardless & MarketInvoice founders on how FinTech is changing the world

Not everyone was as downbeat. ARM, Britain’s largest and most successful technology firm, said the decision was unlikely to impact them.

“Brexit will not have a significant impact on our business as almost all of our earnings come from outside the EU zone but we will watch the negotiations closely, particularly on the subject of visas, as we employ approximately 200 non-UK EU citizens at our Cambridge headquarters.”

Read more: Arm – 25 years as Britain’s most innovative company

We’ll have to wait and hope that their prediction rings true.

This article will be updated with additional comment as we get it.