Loic LeMeur says that he has ditched Europe for Silicon Valley, and I can't say I blame him. For my personal life, I've made a deliberate choice to stay based in London, but pretty much all of my business activity until the past year or two has been centered on Silicon Valley. To me, San Francisco still feels more like a second home than Paris, Barcelona, Luxembourg or Dublin, despite my business dealings with those far closer locations.
And yet it frustrates me that this state of affairs should exist. The supposedly single market in Europe is a concept that has existed for more than fifty years, but we're still far removed from seeing it in practice, in particular for cloud providers. I see US entrepreneurs able to address a single market of 300 million individuals and a GDP almost as large as Europe's, without ever once having to negotiate different currencies, languages, business practices or data protection and retention regulations. In Europe, these barriers are a constant nightmare for entrepreneurs. Loic talks about the limited goals entrepreneurs set themselves in Europe, but in many ways it's inevitable that businesses will choose to face such challenges one step at a time, conquering markets one by one rather than all at once.
A couple of years ago, I decided to support an initiative called EuroCloud, whose mission is to fight for a more level playing field in Europe — to promote the benefits of cloud computing for European businesses and to press for the removal of barriers to an effective and competitive cloud computing industry here. Tomorrow, EuroCloud's leaders are coming to London for a quarterly board meeting and the local EuroCloud UK branch is hosting a meeting about this very topic.
Echoing a comment made by a member at one of our meetings last year, we've titled the event 'Let's Flatten Europe'. We'll be looking at the barriers, both real and imagined, that face cloud providers who want to expand out of their home countries and deliver services across national borders in Europe. We'll focus on the strategies that providers have found successful, aided by participants who are grappling with these issues every day, including Microsoft, NTRGlobal, NaviSite, Mimecast, SAP and representatives from a number of European countries.
For the first time, the event will be webcast, so wherever you are, you're welcome to join us online. If you happen to be in London, you can register to attend the event in person. I think Loic is right, that if you want to create a global success story, the easiest place to do that from is Silicon Valley. But I don't think it has to be that way, and tomorrow's event is part of a campaign to make Europe more competitive for cloud entrepreneurs.