2019 has been a highly eventful year in global tech listings, with companies like Uber and Lyft in the US, and Nexi and Trainline here in Europe. While numbers of European listings have been a little subdued compared with 2018, Europe has stretched its lead over the US in the number of tech listings for the 6th year running. Looking past the opening day headlines, it's notable that Europe's 2019 crop of IPOs, large and small, have delivered returns for their investors which exceed their US contemporaries.
There are a lot of things happening right now in tech that are raising a lot of questions. Looking at what happened to WeWork most recently, we're seeing investors shy away from companies that might not be clearly profitable from the get-go. I think there will be some kind of movement when it comes to funding for startups. Startups will need to prove themselves, and their business models even more. It's going to be trickier; if you rely on funding, a far more uncertain future is ahead. Combined with the delay of Brexit in the UK, we're entering an extended state of uncertainty for businesses.
I tend to think that a high-performing ecosystem is made up of three main things: talent, capital and a 'belief system'. I think Europe has more and more phenomenal talent, including people who move from the US to come to Europe for any number of reasons - for their studies, for lifestyle or world experience, to move back to where their families are, etc. I don't have to tell you there's more capital than ever before, and more high-quality capital, I should add. But it's really the 'belief system' that I think has had the most marked change. Entrepreneurs believe they can build extraordinary success stories in Europe, because either they know of others, or perhaps, increasingly, they know someone directly who has been a part of one of those stories. That's hugely powerful.