Joanna Shields, the head of Facebook’s operations in Europe, is leaving the social network to join London’s Tech City initiative.
Shields, one of Mark Zuckerberg’s most trusted lieutenants and one of the most powerful women in tech history, will begin her new role in January.
She will become the new chief executive of the government-sponsored Tech City Investment Organisation and will lead the London’s bid to become the next centre of tech innovation.
The capture of Shields, who also held a senior position with AOL before joining the social network and becoming vice-president of Facebook, Europe, Middle-East and Africa, will be seen as a major coup by the TCIO.
Time for a change
The former president of Bebo explained her decision to the Sunday Telegraph.
She said: “I really feel good about all the businesses I have been involved with. I was ready for a change and I felt that public service might be that change.
“Sometimes it’s important for the senior person to get out of the way and let others fly. I have four regional leaders [at Facebook] who are all really strong. It is their chance now.”
‘Washington, New York and LA in one city’
In her new role, Shields will ‘have the ear’ of the government and will be able to take issues straight to Whitehall. She said London’s uniqueness as a centre for government, finance and the creative industries means it is ideally placed to become the next Silicon Valley
“London has access to government through Westminster, you have the creative industries [and] you have the financial sector,” said Shields.
“You almost have Washington with government, New York with financial and advertising and creative and Los Angeles with creative all in one city and within a few square miles.
“This is the gateway to the world. It should not be a stepchild to other cities. It should be in its rightful place as the centre for innovation, the digital industries. The time has come.”
Making funding available
The TCIO, set up by the government to assist the development of tech start-ups in the region and help them to break through the glass ceiling.
Shields explained the role: “You need an investment organisation on behalf of those companies.”
“When companies get to that next stage of funding we need to ensure they have the infrastructure available, that they have all the things they need to make sure that happens.”
For the full, wide-ranging interview with the new First Lady of Tech City, check out the hat-tip to the Sunday Telegraph in the link below.