Benjamin Southworth has announced that he will step down as Deputy CEO of the government's Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO) on 1 August – just one year after accepting the role.
In a blog post, Southworth explained that his contract has always been a 12-month contract, and those 12 months are now up. He plans to pursue a collection of new projects, including addressing the digital skills shortage and a larger project around democracy in the 21st century.
“I've also got a few web apps I want to knock up to help triage a few personal itches that have developed,” he wrote.
Prior to joining the TCIO, Southworth worked with a number of tech start-ups in London, Cambridge and Denver, USA, on projects ranging from technical advice to front-end development.
He also helped to run events such as Digital Sizzle, Don’t Pitch Me Bro, and Silicon Drinkabout which aim to bring together technology entrepreneurs in London.
Southworth was appointed as Deputy CEO, by Rohan Silva, who announced his own departure from government earlier this year. Silva brought him to the role after Eric van der Kleij stood down as CEO of the TCIO in June 2012.
The organisation said at the time that it intended to split the role into two – a CEO, who would be responsible for promoting the East London hub to the rest of the world, and a Deputy CEO, who would organise events and support the community internally.
Former Facebook vice president and European head, Joanna Shields, was later appointed as CEO in October 2012. However, Southworth's blog indicates that he will not be replaced as Deputy CEO:
“My role was to ensure continuity and to engage with community to ensure we addressed any structural issues that may have arisen. With the arrival of Joanna Shields, the stewardship of the organisation is in fantastic hands, and there is no real need for a Deputy CEO,” he said.
The TCIO was contacted by Techworld for comment but did not respond in time for the publication of this article.
“I will admit at times I found certain areas of the job beyond my limited skill set, and some of the procedural requirements of public sector certainly brought out the worst in me,” added Southworth.
“To those within government who steered me, guided me, chided me, assisted and educated me – a huge thank you. You brought sunshine to those grey days.”
Update: TCIO has send through the following statement from Joanna Shields:
“I am thrilled for Ben as he re-enters the community as an entrepreneur. His ideas and passion have made him a great asset to Tech City and we are most grateful to him. I have no doubt Ben will continue to be a powerful catalyst for the continued success and growth of Tech City in his new pursuits. I can’t wait to see what he will build.”