THE founder of Silicon Valley tech firm ReputationDefender says he made an “entrepreneurial” decision to choose Liverpool ahead of London as his UK base.
Michael Fertik’s company this week revealed it was opening a European headquarters in Liverpool after buying city firm Reputation 24/7.
Mr Fertik believes many US tech firms wanting to move to the UK are too quick to look at London rather than looking further afield.
And he said he expected Liverpool would be a great base for his business thanks to its knowledgeable workforce, strong universities and affordable office space.
He said: “We just found it makes more sense to move here and be entrepreneurial.
“It’s not entrepreneurship just to look at London. It’s bias, not what makes economic sense.
“We’re hiring. We’re hoping to be growing the workforce. We’re interested in retaining and growing the team.
“I’m going to be investing in Liverpool. It’s not the obvious choice.
“The obvious place would be East London, where they do the best flat white in Britain. But it doesn’t make economic sense for us.”
ReputationDefender, which was founded in 2006, specialises in helping people and companies to protect their privacy online.
Its technology can help people carry out tasks from removing potentially sensitive information to optimising their search results.
Reputation 24/7 was founded by Nathan Barker in Liverpool to help small firms manage their online reputation. Mr Barker will stay on with ReputationDefender.
Mr Fertik would not disclose the value of the deal but said he planned to invest millions of pounds in the UK market.
He added: “Liverpool has had substantial public and private sector investment.
“It’s got a very good university. That creates an attractive environment for other ‘young’ university graduates, and that’s certainly right for us.
“It’s got an international population. It’s got a good history in commerce. It’s also got a reasonable wages environment. A place like London is much more dear.
“That’s also true for infrastructure – office space here is far better for a company like ours making a move into the market.
“Another thing about Liverpool is that Liverpudlians want to stay in Liverpool. That gives it a stable workforce. That’s terrific for a business like ours.”
“A lot of tech people in the UK are, I think, making a mistake focusing exclusively on London as the place to be. There are masses of other parts to the UK.”
Mr Fertik said ReputationDefender had already won some UK customers, but need to open a UK base to grow that customer base further.
He said: “We now want to be more proactive and more deliberate about growing internationally.”
The company’s sales targets range from individuals to FTSE-100 companies. It will have salespeople in London but its back office and head office will be based in Liverpool.
Mr Fertik said: “We intend to dominate this market as we have in the US. And we are going to do it with British people.”
The company also considered investing in Germany, but Mr Fertik says he chose to look for targets in the UK as he was “bullish” about the market’s long-term prospects.
He said: “I know there’s been a lot written about the last quarter and the triple dip. But when I make investments like this, I am looking to a five or 10-year return.
“While we will make revenues this year, you cannot make decisions based on 10 or 24 months.”
The UK’s workforce and tax policies for businesses, Mr Fertik added, made it an attractive place to invest.
He said: “It’s got a good future for its tech companies because it has a knowledgeable workforce.
“It’s got great universities, like the University of Liverpool.”