I've written a guest editorial for the new Guardian Cities site about the way that the offices that house the startups of London's famed "Silicon Roundabout" are being systematically demolished by developers who are put up cheap, high-rise private student housing to take advantage of a foreign-student bubble.
(Note: this went up briefly last week by accident and came down again, apologies if you see this twice)
Within months of the unveiling of Silicon Way, Hackney council approved the demolition of all of the small office spaces in its vicinity: a two-square-block razing that saw Berg, Last.fm and all those other plucky startups chucked out on their ears. Berg's new offices – a tumbledown building slated for demolition at the end of 2014 – are strictly temporary, and they say they're fearful they'll be priced out of Shoreditch for their next move. Last.fm has already left the neighbourhood altogether.
The social media startup in the pub is also long gone – the freeholder, Truman Brewery, got fed up with not selling any beer there, and invoked the lease clause that requires the space to be tenanted by someone who'll sell their products. But almost immediately, they sold out to a property developer who boarded up the windows and moved in "live-in guardians".
Live-in guardians and builders are the two growth industries in Silicon Roundabout these days. Hackney council's planning department is quick to hand out permission to large developers with ambitious high-rise plans, and rumours circulate among planning consultants and architects about the supposed revolving door between jobs in planning and developers' offices.
How startups of Silicon Roundabout are gradually being flattened
In a new paper in Progress, Oxford economist Vuk Vukovic argues that the key to re-election in local politics is to be just corrupt enough: giving lucrative contracts and other benefits to special interests who’ll fund your next campaign, but not so much that the people refuse to vote for you.
In 2013, Lavabit — famous for being the privacy-oriented email service chosen by Edward Snowden to make contact with journalists while he was contracting for the NSA — shut down under mysterious, abrupt circumstances, leaving 410,000 users wondering what had just happened to their email addresses.
In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg (who insists that privacy is dead) bought 100 acres of land around his vacation home in Hawaii to ensure that no one could get close enough to spy on him.
Looking to upgrade your weekend? Here are three randomly awesome products on my mind this week.#3 FRESHeBUDS Pro Magnetic Bluetooth EarbudsAs more and more phones and gadgets switch to Bluetooth-only compatibility, you’ll need to get Bluetooth headphones like the rest of us. I’ve been super impressed with these affordable magnetic headphones. Pull the magnetic earbuds apart to auto-connect […]
Traditional folding wallets are designed for paper bills—but these days, carrying cash is rarely a necessity. More often than not, I don’t carry cash at all. This Bogui Clik Wallet is the best answer I’ve found for avoiding the hassle of those tight-fitting credit card pockets.This attractive, minimalist wallet features a protective lip, so my cards don’t […]
Using my iPhone while it’s charging is always a hassle. With tucked-away outlets and the meager length of included lightning cables, comfortable scrolling while plugged in is annoying. These 10-Ft MFi-Certified Lightning Cables are super convenient and probably the best iPhone accessory purchase I’ve made.At over three times the length of normal cables, these reach anywhere you […]