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Why Can’t Europe Do Tech?

This is the best moment in decades for the continent to battle its way back to relevance. Its startups need to act like it.
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At Peltarion in Stockholm. 

At Peltarion in Stockholm. 

Photographer: Ériver Hijano for Bloomberg Businessweek

Jeez, Europe, what more do you need? Great universities. Fantastic transit systems. More than twice the population of the U.S. The finest cars, watches, wine, beer—OK, the Americans do better beer now, but still. So many glorious advantages. And yet Europe, as ever, continues its reign as the globe’s consumer-tech underachiever.

The heyday of Nokia Corp. and Ericsson AB is a distant memory, and Europe doesn’t have anything remotely comparable to Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, or Facebook, or Alibaba or Tencent, companies with market values ranging from $400 billion to $1 trillion and counting. With apologies to Stefon, Europe’s hottest tech business is Spotify ($34 billion); the only one into nine figures is SAP ($140 billion), the German maker of the world’s most boring business software.