The news that Yahoo is to move its European Headquarters from London to Geneva, following the location of Google’s European Engineering headquarters in Zurich (as opposed to London or Cambridge), confirms the fears I have long expressed over the impact of what is now the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive.
The headline excuse for Operation Toblerone is to improve efficiency while the Swiss say this means tax efficiency. However in January I blogged on the potential impact of EU regulatory initiatives on funding the creation and distribution of innovative, advertising-funded, multi-media content. They strike at the very heart of the business models of players like Yahoo and Google, or of those who would seek to produce content for them, let alone of those who would seek to leapfrog them.
It looks as though the top management of Google and Yahoo came to the same conclusion, after consulting their very expensive legal advisors.
During the original debate over RIPA I recollect Ministers denying that business would move its data and communications centres off shore rather than incurr the risks and overheads of ill-judged legislation and regulation. But even before the legislation was passed the emigration had begun.
Given the recently demonstrated vulnerability of the long-haul internet ( The day the Internet stopped was my blog on the subject), the attractions of Switzerland as a secure, but not inexpensive, location for surveillance free communications and processing centres and their related head offices are becoming increasingly apparent.
It is also apparent that the widely welcomed EURIM paper on the locational factors for knowledge based industries was far too polite.
The DIUS White Paper The Innovation Nation released yesterday is well worth reading but misses the point.
The Governments of Europe, as well as that of the UK, have to learn that they are competing for the wealth creating, tax paying, knowledge industries of the Information Society: industries that can locate anywhere in the world and can also move at short notice.
Yahoo is giving its key employees time to choose and the news has leaked. Others have moved rather faster and more quietly.
Who will be next to go?