“You want to be spending your time growing the business, not on managing HR issues and getting people you don’t want out of the company,” says Victor Malachard, chief executive of Adfonic, an advertising network for mobile devices. Yet another entrepreneur concerned that UK employment legislation is holding their company back? Not quite reports The Telegraph.
“The UK has a very good balance – it’s fair to the employee without restricting the business from growing,” he says. Malachard thinks owner-managers who believe they have got it tough in the UK should try opening an office in France.
“One extreme is the US, where the rules are all behind the corporation, and the other is certain countries in western Europe – in the UK it’s fair.”
Despite his English accent, Malachard is French. He says that George Bush’s famous assessment that “the problem with the French is that they have no word for entrepreneur” was pretty close to the mark when it comes to considering the country’s rigid labour laws, high taxes and restrictive and costly redundancy rules.
“The French state certainly doesn’t encourage entrepreneurs. It makes it very difficult for you to succeed. If you get it wrong in your recruitment – and you always will to a certain extent – it’s very difficult to manage. That’s why my French friends with businesses are always talking about moving here.”
A French and an American entrepreneur uniting to build a global business from London sounds like the perfect advert for the City’s emerging credentials as a technology capital.
But any UK Trade & Investment marketers about to ring them up to see if they’ll agree to be poster boys might want to hear about the pair’s next move first: after struggling to hire the engineering talent they need here, they’re in the process of moving many of their development and engineering functions to California.
“For reasons of control, we’d rather recruit locally but we’ve found it very difficult to find good talent here,” says Malachard.
“It’s as much that California is a hub of activity and lives and breathes the app economy as the skills gap,” Biggs adds.
The company would be happy to bring talent in from the US to bolster its London team, but says it’s constrained by the Government’s drive to reduce net migration. “The irony is that London is a very attractive place for people all over the world to come to but we’re hitting problems with visa management.”
Biggs says that half of Adfonic’s technology team are foreign born, and that he came over to work in the UK “when things were a bit more relaxed”.
“These days we’re not in the same position. The Government needs to decide if it wants British businesses to be the best in the world – if it does, that will require talent from all over the globe.”
Malachard adds: “There’s a balance to be struck for us between being European leaders and accessing the best talent.