Tech 100: ‘We are living in the era of the fastest pace of change in human history – it will never be this slow again’

Written by Chris van der Kuyl on 28 November 2016 in Comment

Chris van der Kuyl, chairman of Dundee-based 4J Studios, on cultivating Scotland’s next tech unicorns

Chris van der Kuyl of 4J Studios - Image credit: Chris van der Kuyl

If a week is a long time in politics, it’s an eon in the tech industry.

Just over a week ago we had two Scottish technology unicorns, companies valued at more than $1bn within five years of start-up. Today we have none.

I am delighted to say that this is not because they have failed spectacularly. In fact, it is the complete opposite.


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Both FanDuel and Skyscanner have taken the next logical steps on their evolution and growth stories.

FanDuel has announced its intention to merge with its biggest and only real rival DraftKings, whilst Skyscanner has announced it has been acquired for the princely sum of $1.75bn by Chinese travel business CTrip.

This is how the tech industry rolls. The speed of company creation, expansion, merger and acquisition is eye-watering, and if we here in Scotland are serious about being part of that, we need to adapt to this pace of change within every part of our society.

We are living in the era of the fastest pace of change in human history and it will never be this slow again.

This statement applies to almost everything around us, from online technology to transport, from education to government, and if, as Entrepreneurial Scotland states, we have ambition to become the most entrepreneurial society in the world, we need to face up to this reality.

After Skyscanner and FanDuel we don’t need two more unicorns, we need 10 – and somewhere further down the growth pipeline we need another 50.

These cannot just be good tech ideas though. They need to be well thought out, scalable, globally relevant and ambitious businesses with the right management, investors, advisers, sales people and marketers, as well as having world-class technology.

Can Scotland rise to this challenge? I happen to think it can, and I am not alone.

So let us take a very brief moment to thank Nigel and his team at FanDuel, Gareth and his team at Skyscanner and then ask them and everyone else involved the key question: what’s next?

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