Facebook's head of Europe leaves for job at London Tech City

Joanna Shields, who was in charge of Facebook's operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is the new chief executive of the Tech City Investment Organisation, and also the UK's new 'business ambassador for the digital industries'.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Joanna Shields, Facebook's managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, has jumped ship to become the new head of the Tech City Investment Organisation.

Joanna Shields
Facebook's Joanna Shields is to head up East London's Tech City. Image: Joanna Shields/Wikipedia

The government announced on Sunday that Shields is replacing Eric van der Kleij at the helm of the 'Silicon Roundabout' quango, which exists to push East London as a hub for tech start-ups. Van der Kleij left the chief executive post in June.

Shields has also been appointed as the UK's 'business ambassador for the digital industries'.

"I'm delighted that Joanna is joining the Tech City Investment Organisation," prime minister David Cameron said in a statement. "Joanna's experience will be hugely valuable in supporting Tech City as it goes from strength to strength, and as a business ambassador promoting the UK around the world."

Shields does indeed have extensive experience, having previously been AOL president in charge of social and communications, Bebo's chief executive, and Google's EMEA managing director.

In the statement, Shields said the "seeds have been sown" for a "dynamic and successful cluster" in East London.

"I am looking forward to leading the Tech City Investment Organisation in the next phase of its development," she said. "With the right boost now, there is no reason why we can't make London the number one location for tech in the world."

Almost £4m in public money has been put into the Tech City project so far, though the total could reach nearly £400m, according to plans announced in 2010 by Cameron. Some £200m of that will be in equity finance for businesses with high-growth potential, he said at the time. 

A number of tech leaders have set up near the Shoreditch hub so far, with Amazon the latest to do so with its Barbican-based digital media development centre. Huawei is also thought to be considering the area for the mobile device design office it plans for the UK's capital.


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