The London Stock Exchange (LSE) claims that 19 UK tech companies listed on its markets in 2014 but analyst house TechMarketView has questioned how many of those firms can be classed as true technology companies.
The 214-year-old exchange is keen to get as many tech companies listing on markets like AIM (Alternative Investment Market) as possible, as it looks to compete with the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Nasdaq, the largest stock exchange in the US.
Richard Holway, chairman of TechMarketView, told Techworld that he believes the LSE is doing a great job of this, but he's not convinced that all of the 19 "tech" listings in 2014 came from "true" technology companies.
“Many tested the definition of what constitutes a 'tech' company to the limits,” he said in a blog post. “Indeed, the UK seems to be rather good at melding tech with retail, fintech, creative et al. Companies like Rightmove and Zoopla have used tech to create huge disruption in the real estate sector. This has been the case in the sale of white goods (AO.com) through to the archetypal ‘meals on wheels masquerading as tech' (MOWMAT) takeaway food firm, JustEat.com, and everything in between.
“If we narrow down the list to the UK software and IT services (SITS) sector, nine companies made it to London markets in 2014, almost half the number for 2013 (16). In contrast, 2014 saw fewer UK SITS exits – four in all, vs eight in 2013 – but that includes industrial conglomerate Invensys, which hid some software businesses under the covers (see Another one bites the dust).
"Excluding Invensys - with a market cap of some £3.4bn - the aggregate exit value of UK SITS companies leaving London markets in 2014 would have been £230m, about £50m more than the prior year.
Holway believes that the media is often too quick to label companies as technology firms, maybe just because they have a website.
Marcus Stuttard, head of UK primary markets & AIM, London Stock Exchange Group, said: "The global tech industry is no longer just about software companies but encompasses a wide range of businesses who use pioneering or disruptive technology, who place technology at the cornerstone of what they do, or seek to change perceptions and industry standards by applying new innovative technology. The UK has a vibrant technology scene, which London Stock Exchange is wholly committed to supporting.
“2014’s technology IPOs demonstrated London’s ability to support fast growing dynamic companies, as well as highlighting the evolutionary nature of ‘technology’."
The London Stock Exchange, founded in 1801, had a market capitalisation of $6.37 trillion at the end of 2014, making it the fifth-largest stock exchange in the world and the second-largest in Europe, after Euronext.