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Interesting that these people only represent a single recent, original European startup: Skype. The rest of the companies are either old (SAP), not in Europe (Sun), or localized variants of things invented elsewhere (the ISPs, the Samwers). And even Skype has been acquired.

Being Danish I remember that in the early days of Skype they made the rounds amongst Danish investors and VC's. There were no takers (with the notable exception of Morten Lund who made a small investment and made a fortune from it). Nobody had any idea what the heck they were talking about, so they went abroad and got funding from more sophisticated and knowledgeable investors.

I think a lot of the reasons can be found in that answer.

I was interested to see what it's like for the US, so I did go through the forbes list [1]:

1. Bill Gates

2. Larry Ellison

3. Jeff Bezos

4. Sergey Brin

5. Larry Page

6. Steve Ballmer

7. Paul Allen

8. Michael Dell

9. Laurenne Powell Jobs (widow of Steve Jobs)

10. Mark Zuckerberg

If the definition of old is "younger than 20 years", this represents 3 startups (Amazon, Google, Facebook). If the definition is "younger than Skype", then only Facebook is left.

[1] http://www.forbes.com/forbes-400

[edit: formatting]

If you want to compare, you should make the cutoff be based on net worth, not simply take the top 10. Then you also get eBay, Tesla/SpaceX, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Square/Twitter among others.

Sorry, re-reading my post it was misleading because I didn't post my intention: I did not want to show that Europe is coming up with successful start-ups at any rate comparable to the US, SV obviously wins by a huge margin.

I was more interested if younger successful founders in the US faster take-over older founders. And they don't. A large part of the wealth of the older founders has been acquired past-IPO.

The conclusion (for me) is that to make it into the top 10 (whether US or Europe) and stay there, you gotta grow a company successfully for many years, like Microsoft, Oracle or Apple did in the US and SAP did in Europe.

Yes, the thing that always strikes me about the Forbes 400 is how old so many of the people are. Clearly the normal way to end up super rich is to have something that grows fairly rapidly, and then give it a long time to grow.

Yeah, but come up with another big time Euro start up success story, other than Skype or Spotify (Spotify arguably happened in Europe only because the labels would only allow streaming in small Euro markets at first as a test case). If you expand the list from 10 to 50 to lessen the dominance of the legacy players, the US list would be a Who's Who of start ups, and the Euro one a Who's That?

Discounting the Samwers for obvious reasons.

How about Arm?

Yep, that's certainly an important company. I think you'd probably agree that it's not a household name, and other examples are few and far between, but I probably should have mentioned ARM.

"Not a household name"... yet probably at least one processor in (nearly) every household. It qualifies.

> I was interested to see what it's like for the US

We suck compared to the US[1] regardless of how you slice billionaires lists.

[1] https://media.economist.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/2...

I dare to say Xavier Niel has brought enough innovation with Free which is more than just another ISP. They came in with a low price, disrupting the market, because they pioneered cost-savings everywhere. For their broadband service, they even designed their modem/set-top box themselves, and built a lot of internal systems that other ISPs outsourced. Their service is very geek friendly, and as a consequence is a geek favourite. Now they're disrupting mobile service, even if it's not going as smoothly as desired, they forced all the other network operators to offer lower prices.

I find it interesting they have a very entrepreneurial YAGNI and fake-it-till-you-make-it swagger. They really do a lot with very few resources.

Yes! Free is a fantastic, innovative company that is actually bringing positive change to their landscape. A company like Free in the US would be like a fountain of icy water in hell.

There's no denying that the US is better at making tech billionaires than Europe, but the US list of top tech billionaires is hardly a picture of new thinking and innovation: Gates, Allen and Balmer are all from Microsoft (which, like SAP, was founded in the 70s). One would be Ellison (Oracle was founded in the 70s too). And one would be Dell (and making computers is something the British invented).

As I mentioned below, if you expanded the list from 10 to 50 or 100, the US list would be a Who's Who of start ups, and the Euro one a Who's That? Besides Skype and Spotify, unfortunately there just haven't really been very many mainstream start ups coming out of Europe.

Also, I'm not sure what Alan Turing has to do with Sinclair and Amstrad failing and Dell being successful. From what I understand of the early development of the computer, much more work was done in Boston, NY, and the Valley than in the UK.

I agree with everything you say, there is no doubt that the US is way better at producing successful tech startups.

But pg's point was specifically about how the Euro top ten was dominated by old companies and boring business models. My point is that aside from google, amazon and Facebook, the US top ten is not all that hip and fresh either.

>"My point is that aside from google, amazon and Facebook, the US top ten is not all that hip and fresh either."

That's a pretty big aside.

Seems to support the power-law view that Silicon Valley is a better place to start a company than everywhere else combined.

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