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Silicon Round-up: Interview madness, VAT sadness, Regional badness

From Rodman to Rogen, a ruthless campaign…of PR?

the interviewSeth Rogen and James Franco are comedy’s odd couple; pot smoking, wise-cracking, taboo smashing Hollywood arrivistes with a gift for provocation and a devil may care approach to film making, their latest film sees them get up close and personal with the world’s most talked about crazy man. No, not Eric Cantona quoting, paper hat wearing male rape victim Shia LeBoeuf, but Kim Jong Un, that pesky North Korean dictator.

As if following in the mighty footsteps of cross dressing rent-a-celeb basketball star Denis Rodman was not hard enough, their efforts to promote and release latest film “The Interview”, in which the pair play television reporters on a mission to assassinate the murdering Asian despot, before discovering that actually he is kind of a cool guy, has hit the skids in a bizarre, not to mention pretty unsettling fashion.

A group calling themselves Guardians of Peace, GOP for short, with a taste for hacking and a questionable grasp of the English language, have declared themselves responsible for the theft of the equivalent of 12,000 CDs worth of data from Sony Pictures, the movie’s producers. “The world will be full of fear”, they have declared, remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you keep yourself distant.”

Every good comedy needs a straight man, but you can’t help feeling that Guardians of Peace are failing to see the funny side of this particular caper. Or are they? Repulsive twin towers reference aside, the damages reported to date include the revelation that George Clooney was disappointed by the lack of critical acclaim for recent 2nd World War vehicle “The Monuments Men”, the leaking of several film scripts, including “Mall Cop: Blart 2”, and the revelation that top Sony executives had labelled “The Interview”, as “desperately unfunny”. Edward Snowden, it ain’t.

For its part, North Korea has so far denied any involvement, although it has conceded that the attack may be “a righteous deed” carried out by fans of the regime. Righteous deed? Isn’t that what 80’s grunge comedy legends Bill S. Preston and Ted Theodore Logan used to call one another? The Department of Homeland Security has said that “we are still analysing the credibility of these statements, but at this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theatres within the US”.

PR is a many splendoured thing, and, like love, it can often be found in the strangest places. There has to be more than a whiff of guerrilla marketing about this debacle, no? First Rodman, now Franco and Rogen. Could it be that Kim Jong Un has a sense of humour after all? For the good of us all, let’s hope comedy proves to be the winner. And you can’t always say that about pampered Hollywood stars and faceless Sony Pictures execs.

The big players aren’t always made in London

big fishThe ever wonderful Tech City News reports that there has been an explosion of start-up accelerators appearing in London over the past 3 years, coinciding with the government’s decision to throw its weight behind the “Tech City” project. According to research from Telefonica and O2, the private sector accounts for over 40% of all accelerators / incubators, but worryingly 61% of them are based in London, leaving the regions somewhat bereft.

Start-ups that have been through an accelerator programme are more likely to fundraise, too, adding to the growing gap between London and the rest. So, what’s the solution? At this moment in time the most likely scenario that will see the regions make up ground on London is, ironically, the capital city becoming a victim of its own success. As more and more “start-ups” become “scale-ups”, rents spiral, and bootstrappers are pushed further and further out of the centre, founders, developers, and creatives will surely begin to ask themselves “is it really worth relocating”. All it takes is for a few strong personalities to remain where they are, and be demanding in the same “because I’m worth it” fashion as their London based counterparts, to attract the attention of Angels and VCs who find the pool of London talent to be somewhat diluted by timewasters. Another problem with the biggest ponds is that they tend to be full of sharks.

Comply or die: VAT on digital sales is changing

vatEsteemed Chartered Accountants, friends of business and all round good eggs Jeffreys Henry inform the Haggerston Times that VAT taxation for the sale of digital services, that’s broadcasting, telecommunications, and E-services in case you didn’t know, is changing. You will no longer charge VAT at the rate of the country you are selling from, but at the rate of the country you are selling to. In other words, sell your digital service to a B2C (only B2C is affected, not B2B) customer in Luxembourg, and charge 15% VAT. Sell the same product to a customer in Hungary, and charge 27%. As if exporting goods wasn’t complicated enough! Neither is there any threshold, so it must be done irrespective of the size of the order you are delivering.

Exporting goods from Britain, particularly digital ones, is crucial to the health of the UK economy, just listen to the fuss the government make about it, for one thing. Its challenging, communication can be tough, cultural differences must be overcome, and competition can come from anywhere. But is it all worthwhile? You bet it is, one of the biggest thrills in business, why you get into it in the first place. More importantly it’s practical and pragmatic.

Luckily, Jeffrey’s Henry have put together this handy guide and their VAT partner, Daphne Hemingway, is making herself available to answer your questions.

The HT say’s thanks

And finally, a Merry Christmas from Haggerston Times! The last year has been utterly fascinating, we have met some of the most amazing start-ups, techies, founders, co-founders, technical evangelists, Angels, investors, and odd people whose businesses we did not understand. The blog has been read by 13,000 people, from almost every corner of the globe, it’s morphed through many themes, posted 224 posts and attracted 1,243 comments, although most of those are spam! The readership is over 2,000 per month, and we haven’t started our marketing campaign yet!

I’m not sure if what we have achieved is good, bad or ugly, but I know that the more people who visit us, the more start-ups who want to be featured, the more investors who want to profiled, and the more journalists who have a glance now and again when they are planning their stories, the better! So please keep reading, liking, sharing, commenting, and getting in touch with ideas. We have a whole lot of new stuff happening in the New Year, now we have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. Keep em’ peeled; we’re turning traction into action! Copywriting, eh?

sexy christmas angelMerry XMAS!!


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