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What is a technology company?

Am I being picky or over-sensitive? A recent report talks about how Europe has produced 30 technology companies worth more than $1bn. They include “Clothing retailer Asos, games studio King Digital, property portfolio Zoopla and music service Spotify.” Are these technology companies? Zoopla’s core business is pulling together into a single web site, property listings from a wide range of sources. They do have other service for the estate agents whose properties they advertise and there is serious technology underlying this, but if you look at their job ads, of the 15 on the site today, only two are for technologists (Perl and Python developers). The rest are for people involved in the business of getting more ads onto their site and more users to the site.

Again Asos, which claims to be the most visited fashion and beauty website in the world, is in rag trade- it exists to sell clothes. Again serious underlying technology, but that is not the point.

Europe does have technology companies, ARM and Imagination, Infineon, STMicroelectronics are companies who create technology. So are companies who build systems using their products, such as Thales.

All financial organisations use massive amounts of technology: high frequency trading- a technology for gaming the markets that is under a great deal of critical scrutiny but somehow seems to be unstoppable – exploits mind staggering technologies, but even retail banking would be  impossible without technology, yet these companies are not labelled as technology companies.

Confusing companies who use technology to deliver a product or service with companies who create technology seems dangerous. When the dotcom bubble burst it was companies using technologies who were the problem, but the companies who create technology were equally hammered by the stock markets.

Since there is nothing we can do about it, I suppose I should just ignore it all and keep my fingers crossed that when this bubble bursts, real technology companies survive.

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