Baroness Joanna Shields, a US-born businesswoman who is showing an increasing interest in British politics, has left Tech City UK after she was today confirmed as the UK minister for internet safety and security. 

The former Google and Facebook executive, who led the Tech City UK organisation through its early years, said it has been a privilege to serve as chair of the organisation. 

Ex-Googler Joanna Shields has spearheaded the Tech City UK quango since it was founded ©Flickr/AIB
Ex-Googler Joanna Shields has spearheaded the Tech City UK quango since it was founded ©Flickr/AIB

“I am immensely proud of what the community it serves has accomplished, as well as the development of the team and the organisation," she said. "In my time working with Tech City UK, this country has become a digital powerhouse. There are 1.5 million people employed in the digital sector with more and more people becoming entrepreneurs.”

Her Twitter bio suggests that she is also stepping down from her role as digital advisor to prime minister David Cameron as she desrcibes the position in the past tense, while a Reuters report indicates that she's also left her non-executive director role at the London Stock Exchange. 

As internet security minister, Shields will be responsible for curbing online abuse, exploitation, bullying and access to harmful content, thereby making the internet a safer place for children.

She will also work with the Home Office to help remove terrorist, radicalising, and extremist content from the internet, in addition to promoting safe, open access to the internet for everyone. 

Shields was appointed a parliamentary under secretary of state within the Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) last Friday but the details of her role have only just been revealed.  

She will report directly to culture minister Ed Vaizey MP. 

Shields, along with Facebook's Nicola Mendelson, is now perceived by many as one of the most powerful women in the UK technology scene

But a Techworld source said they were “surprised” by the appointment, adding that she lacks credibility within the tech community.

“I don’t know why/for what she was awarded the ministerial post in contrast to say Jim O’Neil [former Goldman Sachs chief economist],” the source continued.

During her tenure as Tech City UK CEO, Shields had mixed success.

While there's no denying she helped to promote London as one of the world's leading technology hubs, the founders of several UK firms spoke out against her when they criticised the Future Fifty scheme she spearheaded.  

Tech City UK has also been under the spotlight recently for failing to promote its exceptional talent visa, which enables the very best non-EU entrepreneurs to be fast-tracked to the UK. 

Tech City UK CEO Gerard Grech said “Baroness Shields has provided great leadership and guidance to Tech City UK. Her foresight and enthusiasm have helped change the UK’s global reputation in digital innovation. Her ideas and dedication have also helped drive the delivery of high-impact programmes such as Future FiftyHQ-UKTech Nation and the Digital Business Academy among others. I look forward to continue working with her in her new capacity” 

Tech City UK said it is now seeking a new chair.