Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe

Another U.S. Tech Company Shuns Brexit Fears With London Office

San Francisco-based Intercom will set up shop in the U.K. in the fall, bucking uncertainty in the capital about the country's EU exit.

Brexit blues haven’t struck six-year-old San Francisco-based startup Intercom, which is planning to open its first London office this year. 

The new outpost for the company, which makes products for businesses to communicate better with customers,  will be focused on software research and development. Its investors include Twitter Inc. co-founder Biz Stone as well as Iconiq Capital and Index Ventures,

“There's a phenomenal amount of talent there,” Des Traynor, Intercom’s chief strategy officer and co-founder, said in an interview. “We're going to be hiring immediately.” 

The move is a show of support for post-Brexit London’s tech industry. Since Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, uncertainty about the city’s ability to retain businesses and talent has been significant. 

Despite this, several young U.S. tech companies have announced plans to open London offices, including Snap Inc., which earlier this year named the city as its international hub, and Slack Technologies Inc., which opened an office in the capital in May.

Traynor said London was an obvious choice, even after the Brexit vote, because it’s the company’s second-largest market outside of the U.S. and the largest in Europe. “It's English-speaking, a short flight from Dublin and in the same time zone as Dublin,” where the company also has an office, he said. “So collaboration should be easy.”

Intercom is on a “big binge” to hire talent, Traynor said, adding that the U.K. has always had a “phenomenal relationship with the discipline of computer science.” Traynor didn't specify a target headcount for the new office, which will open in the fall.

“A good indication of trajectory might be our own Dublin office,” he said, “which started at two but wasn't long before it was at 180.”

Talent Drought

Earlier this month, job listings portal Indeed released data that showed 1 in 10 new jobs created in the U.K. were in technology fields, such as software engineering. But filling those positions was proving to be tough for many businesses, in part due to demand outstripping the supply of highly skilled workers.

"I would argue there's a global lack of software engineers and it's exacerbated in the places that are most successful," Traynor said. "Without a doubt it's complaint number one in San Francisco and I've heard similar about London."

Intercom has about 350 people working across offices in Dublin, San Francisco and Chicago. It has raised a total of $116 million in funding, including a $50 million round led by Index Ventures in April 2016, and counts Spotify Ltd., Microsoft Corp. and Monzo Bank as clients. Traynor said the company finished 2016 with about $50 million of annual recurring revenue, and currently has no immediate need for additional fundraising or an initial public offering.

“The company's doing great,” he said. “Things like IPOs are not something we actively discuss at all.”

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