Facebook’s European boss Joanna Shields has left the social network to lead London’s Tech City - a group of companies that are purported to be Britain’s answer to Silicon Valley. Shields will succeed Eric van der Kleij as the leader of the Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO) in January.
Shields, who is one of Europe’s most visible technology leaders, has served as Facebook Europe, Middle East and Africa’s vice president and managing director since 2010. Before that, she held posts at Google and Bebo, where, as the social network’s CEO, she managed it until its £530 million AOL acquisition.
As the chief of TCIO, Shields will advocate on behalf of Tech City, raising the cluster’s global profile, attracting local and international investors, and supporting its member companies.
“Working in the UK for the past decade has proven to me that this country has the potential to become a major force in digital innovation,” said Shields.
“The seeds have been sown in East London for a dynamic and successful cluster: we have the infrastructure, the technology and the talent, now we need to accelerate the growth...With the right boost now, there is no reason why we can’t make London the number one location for tech in the world,” she continued.
She will also serve as the chairperson for the Tech City Advisory Group, of which she was previously a member. The group is made up of representatives from firms and institutions in the cluster, and works on guiding government support for Tech City. Shields will also represent British digital businesses abroad as the business ambassador.
Prime Minister David Cameron chimed in on the announcement, registering his pleasure at Shields’ appointment.
“I’m delighted that Joanna is joining the Tech City Investment Organisation. The success of Tech City shows just what can happen when we back some of our most innovative and aspiring companies to grow, helping the UK compete and thrive in the global race,” said Cameron.