Jimmy Wales: London trumps soulless Silicon Valley

Jimmy Wales: London trumps soulless Silicon Valley

By Rob Crossley

January 19th 2012 at 5:27PM

'No one really wants to live in Palo Alto', says Wikipedia founder

London’s answer to Silicon Valley benefits from a city culture that the home of Google and Facebook can’t match, the founder of Wikipedia has said.

Alabama native Jimmy Wales, who is planning to move to London to live with his fiancée Kate Garvey, says the capital’s so-called ‘Silicon Roundabout’ has “a lot of energy and a lot of people doing interesting things”.

But Silicon Valley, the San Francisco region famous for its pioneering tech firms, lacks a cultural backdrop that Londoners enjoy.

“I would say nobody really wants to live in Palo Alto,” Wales (pictured) said in an interview with The Evening Standard.

The Wikipedia founder, who found himself at the centre of the SOPA debate after closing down the online encyclopaedia for 24 hours, described Silicon Valley as “sprawling and empty”.

“There’s nothing in terms of cultural amenities that would be of interest to creative, highly intellectual people," he said.

"If you’re looking for a stimulating environment with different people and art to fuel the soul, London is a great city in a way that Silicon Valley isn’t.”

London’s Tech City is a rebranded region in the capital  that today clusters together many start-up firms working in the digital creative industries. The zone runs from Shoreditch to Stratford, and a government-backed initiative aims to stimulate and nurture tech companies across the East End.

Young games studios working in the region include Inensu, Ustwo, Mind Candy and Bossa.

The so-called ‘Silicon Roundabout’ is the focus of the zone and situated at the heart of area. In 2008, there were thought to be just 15 high-tech companies around the Roundabout, while today there are an estimated 250 companies occupying the zone.

In September last year, search engine giant Google signed a ten-year lease on a seven-story office block in Tech City.