Over the last few days a discussion has taken place online about a part of London where some of the most talked-about social media start ups are gathering. It seems that around the Old St area, it's becoming a bit of a mini tech hub - or as Tim Bradshaw at the FT puts it - Silicon Roundabout. [pic courtesy of flickr / blackbeltjones]
I have an affinity with what's now being called the Silicon Roundabout that goes back 10 years, so I'm loving the fact that this area now has a name. Any name's a start, but this one's a corker, no?
In 1998 I lived here in the Silicon Roundabout area, when I was working as an intern at Legal & General. Back then it was known as the Gap Roundabout (it had a permanent Gap advert above it). Classy. There were no nice bars, no nice employers, but as a student of City University which is based here just up the road, my mate had digs on Old St which I rented off him. There were plenty of mice, and dodgy fast food outlets. I only stayed a few months. Silicon Grotbags.
Three years after that I returned to join tech PR startup Hotwire, which then was based in a warehouse building in Hoxton, on the east side of the Silicon Roundabout. Still then, no sign of a burgeoning social media agglomeration around Old St.
Hotwire grew and we moved to a bigger office, again in a converted warehouse, and again near the Silicon Roundabout, this time the west side of Old St. I also moved into a flat a few mins up the road. I rejoined Hotwire a year ago after living and working in other parts of London and the UK for a few years, and so I'm here again right back at home at the Silicon Roundabout.
To hear it now being called a social media hub to me seems pretty cool. It's not been like this for very long, but to see the likes of Last FM, Moo, Dopplr, Redmonk, WAYN and so on within spitting distance is good. Compared to the M4 tech corridor it's nothing - but it has that buzzy feel which I think is unique. If for no other reason than you start to get all the nice things you get as a by-product of having a web startup scene. Free wi-fi in cafes for a start, and the coffee is very nice too.