Last week's First Tuesday event, dubbed The Americans are Coming, sparked off verbal fireworks among the 700 delegates.
The venture capital group kicked off its Independence Day celebrations by attacking restrictive European regulations. US internet companies benefit from a culture that fuels opportunities, but they are presented with unexpected legal and cultural barriers upon arriving in Europe, the audience were told.
Larry Levy of Protege, which specialises in introducing US internet-based companies to Europe, admitted that he had once told a client: "We'll all have a lot more fun if you put this money in the wastepaper basket and burn it because then we'll see something happening."
The crux of the discussion was that European laws are notoriously difficult to navigate, to the point where US companies trying to break into Europe have been labelled "bureaucratic masochists".
The main hurdles include prohibitive taxation structures, with tax often so high that it inhibits wealth on a US scale. And, of course, traditional European protectionism, with 'old boy' networks holding up the development of the new economy.
As a result, Levy said it is easier to import technology-based companies from the US. But US content-based companies have more trouble adapting to the European market, so their European counterparts stand a significantly better chance of staving off competition.
The main cultural obstacles for US companies are a greater respect for authority in Europe, coupled with unease about track records linked to past failures. There is also a significant awkwardness about wealth creation in an environment where the value of intellectual capital is yet to be wholly acknowledged.
A First Tuesday spokesman said that although most Europeans find the US approach to internet culture empowering, what they build with it is culturally specific. He added that local knowledge is vital to creating a successful business before taking it global, meaning that European startups should not feel intimidated by their US counterparts.
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