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Bobbie Johnson

Bio:Bobbie is a British journalist who has covered technology and society over a decade in London and San Francisco. He was technology correspondent at the Guardian for five years, and has written for outlets including the BBC, Technology Review and Wired UK.

My Focus

European startups
Mobile technology

Recent Posts

“Social capital” has been around for a while, but now VCs and other investors are starting to see opportunities in socially-valuable areas such as health and education. Cue an explosion across the technology industry. Read More »

You can’t beat Silicon Valley by trying to be Silicon Valley — so why does Europe spend so much time trying? If the continent’s entrepreneurs want to become true leaders, they need to shake off the past and stop playing a game that’s stacked against them. Read More »

 
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After leaving the accelerator world, Mikko Järvenpää decided to ask entrepreneurs what they really thought about their experiences inside the startup factories. After talking to more than 150 graduates he discovered that acceleration can work well, but programs don’t always provide the help startups really need. … Read More »

European vacation rentals site HouseTrip has everything going for it right now: not least fast growth and a fresh new round of funding. Co-founder Arnaud Bertrand lays out why he thinks his site can carry on winning — and reveals the scale of his ambition. Read More »

Don’t worry, Europe: you’re about to get a new beginning

Europe has trailed America for decades, partly because of a tricky environment for entrepreneurs. But one investor thinks the continent’s young businesses could be about to see a new dawn. Read More »

With 2m members, science startup ResearchGate isn’t just talking big when it says it wants to start a revolution: it’s actually changing the way scientists work. Co-founder Ijad Madisch explains his vision — and how he’d like to change Germany’s clone-heavy culture along the way. Read More »

For years Reddit has been used by journalists as a source of stories and ideas — but most outlets have preferred to keep their addiction quiet. Now, thanks in large part to President Obama, it doesn’t have to be their dirty little secret any more. Read More »

More Must Reads

Readers and writers are revolting after it emerged that several leading crime authors have been posing as reviewers to puff up their own books. But is the outcry really just a distraction from all the other ways publishers — and people in general — try to … Read More »

Hadopi, the French body created by former President Nicolas Sarkozy to enforce copyright laws online, has rarely been popular for its three strikes disconnection policy. Now, after hints that the new government may cut its funding, the group’s leader has told politicians to stop meddling. Read More »

When should children learn to code? Estonia’s Tiger Leap Foundation wants children as young as six to be enrolled in coding classes — all part of a national program that has already turned this tiny country into a technological powerhouse. Read More »

Two of the biggest taxi service startups are preparing to go head-to-head as San Francisco’s Uber and London’s Hailo gear up for launch in New York. Who will win? Evidence so far suggests it’s a tough game, but the British company may just have the edge. … Read More »

British arch-satirist Armando Iannucci – best known for his documentary-style dissections of the political classes — is getting ready to take on his next project: a black comedy based on Silicon Valley’s worst moments of excess. Fish, meet barrel. Read More »

Huge technology trade shows like IFA are meant to parade the biggest products around. But what if the biggest isn’t the best? What if intimacy, personalization and customization are the things we crave? That’s what I argued at a fringe event in Berlin last week. Read More »

Berlin is making great strides towards becoming a serious home for startups and entrepreneurs in Europe. But while it’s getting support from businesses and even government, the biggest fly in the ointment could be the delayed, embarrassing shambles that is Brandenburg airport. Read More »

European technology companies looking to go public usually desert their home turf and head to the U.S. — creating an echo chamber that has made some local investors angry. Now reports suggest that the British government may be trying to reverse that trend. Can it work? Read More »

Investors are pushing Nokia’s stock price up as they look for positive news out of the $1bn patent award that Apple has wrung from Samsung. Are they hoping for the impossible? Or is this a surprise inflexion point for the struggling Finnish handset maker? Read More »

After trying its hand as a pure-play social recommendations service, travel website Tripbirds has relaunched with a strong focus on hotel booking. But will its smart look and Facebook integration be enough to help it overcome the vast amount of competition and expertise out there? Read More »

When the British royal family asked UK newspapers not to publish pictures of Prince Harry frolicking nude in Las Vegas, it seemed like a ludicrous request. But even though the media largely complied, the reality of internet life meant the pictures were impossible to suppress. Read More »

Israeli startup Pops is sending more than a million messages each day through its custom alert system for Android. Now, with a new version out and some important deals in the pipeline, the service promises to do for smartphone notifications what Crazy Frog did for ringtones. Read More »

Ouch. France’s top mobile network, Orange, has been suffering from a bug that left a huge chunk of users unable to access their voicemail — just a few weeks after a software glitch rendered vast parts of the company’s network unusable. Read More »

A year after opening its API, Mendeley — the document manager and social network for scientists — has seen a blossoming of apps that hook into its system… often in innovative ways. Now it’s looking to the future. Read More »

After little more than six months of operation, Xavier Niel’s French mobile operator Free.fr seems to be having a serious impact on the local market. Not only is it stealing millions of customers from bigger rivals, but it’s forcing them to radically alter their price plans … Read More »

A shortcut offered to Britain’s biggest mobile operator could allow some UK users to get their hands on 4G services well ahead of next year’s expected rollout. But the decision has drawn a splenetic reaction from rivals who say the deal could massively distort competition. Read More »

Swedish payments startup iZettle is the leading European rival to Jack Dorsey’s Square. And now that the Scandinavian company is adding Android support to its arsenal, the potential for conflict between the two companies just got a lot bigger. Read More »

Jolla, the mobile startup staffed by former Nokia executives who want to keep the company’s MeeGo software alive, says it will use existing technology to bring in apps from other platforms — including Android. Will it be enough to boost the plucky company’s fortunes? Read More »

When British retail veteran John Browett took over Apple’s store operation, plenty of critics lined up to question the decision. And now, with the company forced to apologize for cutting customer service staff, his appointment by Tim Cook looks even more baffling. Read More »

All over the world, startup accelerator programs have exploded over the last few years – but that growth has been accompanied by diminishing returns for those taking part. How can this improve? Mikko Järvenpää, former staffer at Europe’s HackFwd program, has a few ideas. Read More »

Western technology companies have traditionally looked to developing economies as a place to find cheap, abundant talent. But thanks to the Eurozone’s problems and the sovereign debt crisis, things are changing rapidly: Just ask the Portuguese, who are finding themselves subordinate to fast-growing Brazil. Read More »

London startup Mendeley is already beloved by researchers around the planet for helping them manage their work. Now it’s unveiled a new product that it hopes can help universities get a better handle on what’s happening right now. Goodbye slow, stuffy academia. Read More »

As it takes a hammering at home, Netflix is pinning its hopes on getting traction in Europe. But Adam Valkin, the founding CEO of rival video service Lovefilm, says that the US company could have owned the market if it hadn’t pulled out of a European … Read More »

The Dutch technology company has spent the last few years building a web app that lets anyone run fast, deep searches on semantic data. Now it’s scored a seed round from NEA and Atomico to start turning its early work into a fully-featured product. Read More »

Europe’s equivalent of Square has been going gangbusters in recent months, but after falling foul of Visa Europe, the company can no longer accept Visa cards in Denmark, Norway and Finland. What nobody is prepared to say is precisely why it’s happening now. Read More »

In a world stuffed with big social networks, can a social app specifically for art lovers make an impact? ArtSpotter founder Raphaëlle Heaf thinks so — and she’s relaunching her iPhone-based service to try and prove a point. Read More »

The VC behind big European exits like Skype, MySQL and Lovefilm has been arguing that London should play host to more IPOs. Now Robin Klein, one of its high profile partners, is spearheading the attack with an appeal to government, investors and startups themselves. Read More »

European startups love to analyze their failures and look for reasons the continent finds it hard to build huge new businesses. Now a great, comprehensive piece in The Economist manages to show how the problems are deep, dangerous — and go back at least 50 years. Read More »

It started with an innocuous tweet and turned into a legal saga that critics said threatened free speech online. But, after two years and three appeals, the UK’s High Court has overturned the conviction of a man who joked about blowing up his local airport. Read More »

As Britain prepares to host the Olympics, London’s startup entrepreneurs are the focus of a string of major announcements that all promise to transform the city from a fading Victorian giant into a gleaming technopolis. It’s a revolution that can’t come soon enough. Read More »

Britain’s 4G rollout is woefully delayed, and the announcement that a spectrum auction won’t take place until next year is hardly speeding things up. But is there a chance that this unconnected cloud could have a silver lining? Read More »

Britain’s severely delayed 4G auction came a step closer with confirmation that the bidding for mobile spectrum will finally open up. But with regulators suggesting it won’t happen until early next year, UK consumers won’t see any real LTE service until well into 2013. Read More »

Google’s decision to buy hot French email startup Sparrow has seen reactions ranging from excited to bitterly disappointed. But while some critics are just hipsters who confuse selling up with selling out, there are plenty of reasons to worry about a purchase by the ‘Plex. Read More »

With billions in losses coming each quarter, it feels as if Nokia’s living on borrowed time. While many people expect Microsoft to step in and purchase the struggling Finnish handset giant, that may be unlikely. So here are five ways it might turn things around. Read More »

New iPad app Niiiws takes a popular concept — aggregating stories from around the web and pulling them into a single, beautiful discovery service — and adds a twist: it works only with national news outlets. Can it stand out from the crowd? Read More »

It may be the height of summer in Finland, but the view from Nokia chief Stephen Elop’s office window must look pretty dismal right now. Things just keep getting worse for the beleaguered handset maker, which has just announced that it lost $1 billion over … Read More »

Global No2 video service Dailymotion is expanding its white label streaming service to try and capture a greater share of the market. Can its new features draw in more users and help the company meet its targets? Read More »

A study by the British media regulator Ofcom says that people are more likely to use their handsets to text rather than talk — but the real revolution is happening in mobile data, which has doubled in the last 18 months. Read More »

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