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Tue 9 Nov 2010 02:42 PM

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Middle East ideal location for start-ups – Google exec

Mike Cassidy praises regional attitude towards investment and lack of competition

Middle East ideal location for start-ups – Google exec
GOOGLE SEARCH: VOIP services are banned in some countries, such as the UAE, unless they are provided in conjunction with local licensed operators.(Getty Images)

The lack of competition, sizeable population and healthy investment capital make the Middle East the perfect technology location for tech start-ups, one of Google’s most senior officials has said.

“I think there’s enormous opportunity here – I’ve been here twice in the last five months, and I love the quality of the people I see,” Mike Cassidy, Google’s director of search product management, told Arabian Business on the sidelines of an entrepreneurial event in Dubai on Tuesday.

“The investment community here is great and you’ve got people like Abraaj and Fadi Ghandour, an amazing guy, who are giving money to these entrepreneurs now.”

Cassidy said that while Silicon Valley was tremendously advanced in terms of allowing firms to start businesses, the opportunities were easier to grasp in this region.

“I would say there’s about 10,000 entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley right now wishing they were in the Middle East, because you have 300m people here and the competition is not as frenzied as it is over there,” Cassidy said.

“So over there are five other companies doing exactly the same thing as you, all with experienced CEOs and $5m in funding – it’s ferocious.

“Here, if you can get out with something, I think you’re in a beautiful spot, so really, there’s a lot of people who would love to be here,” he added.

Cassidy has scored four Silicon Valley start-up hits with Ruba, Xfire, Direct Hit and Stylus Innovation and his firms have been sold for more than $600m.

The entrepreneur has been nicknamed ‘the Start-Up King’ and ‘Mr Speed’, due to his quickfire approach to hiring, finding funding, and starting businesses. He started working for Google earlier this year.

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