Memorandum by First Tuesday
The success of First Tuesday demonstrates that
the Internet has unleashed a wave of entrepreneurship across Europe.
We began as an informal cocktail party, held in October 1998 to
gather friends working in new media in London. That meeting caught
a moment. It forged a sense of community among young entrepreneurs
who believe that the Internet has created a time of overwhelming
opportunityand, by bringing together money, talent and
ideas, it created a marketplace to help them build new companies
to reap those opportunities. First Tuesday's popularity grew by
word of e-mailfriends inviting friends inviting business
contacts to join the group, spreading across both oceans and borders.
In order to promote further the wave of entrepreneurship which
spawned us, we are now building First Tuesday as a business dedicated
to helping entrepreneurs achieve success.
Our business consists of two parts: events and
a website. On the First Tuesday of every month, we hold events
in 36 European citiesand eight more outside of Europe.
These are organised by local groups, composed of members of the
local new media community but operating under licence from us
to use our trademark and other intellectual property and, through
a stock option plan, sharing in ownership of the First Tuesday
company. Like the original event in London, these serve both as
community and marketplace sharing ideas and inspiration but also
helping to staff, finance, partner and build new businesses. About
30,000 people now subscribe to the mailing lists for event announcements,
and the events are oversubscribed in most cities. We are now extending
the range of events to include more events focused on specific
audiences: for example, matchmaking events which introduce venture
capitalists to companies seeking money.
Although our website is still under construction,
it already serves to extend and deepen the marketplace and community
born at the events. Our jobs listwhich puts those seeking
talent in contact with those seeking jobs, and vice versais
the most active with 50 or 60 postings a day demonstrating that
talent is the resource in shortest supply in the new economy.
We also have lists helping young companies to find short-term
office space, and another dedicated to discussion and mutual self-help.
We are extending the range and functionality of these forums.
We are also building directories of resources which might be useful
to our constituents: ranging from venture capitalists to fulfilment
houses. Soon, we would hope that our site is an indispensable
resource for any European entrepreneur building a new media companyand
the locus of a global network of entrepreneurs.
We have learned several lessons in the course
of our rapid growth:
Europeans are passionate entrepreneurs.
Contrary to conventional pessimism, they are neither defeatist
nor risk averse. Our constituents want to start companies not
just because they can make moneyalthough clearly that is
importantbut also because it empowers them to create the
sorts of products and services that they would like to use;
Government is not seen as relevant
to entrepreneurship. Although attitudes to government vary somewhatGermans
and Scandinavians seeming to want more government involvement
than other Europeansthe resources needed to build companies
all come from the private sector and the entrepreneurial community
itself. Government is encountered mostly as an obstacle;
Scale is critical to entrepreneurial
success. The Internet's global economy creates the opportunityand
the needfor pan-European start-ups. Only by expanding quickly
across the region, and the world, can companies grasp the available
opportunities and bulk up sufficiently to meet the inevitable
American competition. This is one area in which entrepreneurs
encounter government as an obstacle. Harmonisation has a long
way to go in everything from consumer regulation to labour law;
Speed is just as critical. Because
the Internet is evolving so fast, and because first-mover advantage
is so powerful, Internet companies have to move very, very fast.
Here is another area in which government is encountered as an
obstacle: regulatory and legal processesfrom company formation
to licensingdo not move at the speed required by the Internet;
Governments themselves are slow in
using the technology they urge others to espouse. E-mail and the
Web enable entrepreneurs to communicate quickly and efficiently
with each other. Most interactions with government require paper.
Worse, most governments have no clear strategy for taking advantage
of the new technology;
A variety of financial and other
regulations have yet to catch up to the new realities of the new
economy. Stock options are critical to holding together companies
whose core asset is people; yet they are discouraged by many tax
regimes. Financial regulations designed for an era of paper publishing
make it hard to use the power of the Internet to create more information-rich
and efficient markets, particularly for venture investments in
small companies. And, to name just one more example, conflicting
consumer protection regulations stunt the growth of truly European
To sum up: we believe that the European economy
is already in wild transformation, that change will create more
and more widespread opportunity for all and that the community
itself is the most efficient way of building the future.