‘There are no salespeople in Silicon Valley’, claims investor Chris Horn as he talks IT talent (video)

27 Jun 2013

Investor Chris Horn in Dublin this week at the launch of the Harvey Nash CIO Survey

Irish entrepreneur-turned-investor Chris Horn was in Dublin this week to discuss the challenges companies around Europe, as well as in Silicon Valley, are experiencing right now in terms of attracting and retaining top IT talent.

Horn claims that firms in Silicon Valley are experiencing a “desperate shortage” of talent, such as developers, product managers and – intriguingly – salespeople. Across the pond, in Dublin and in Ireland, Horn also spoke of the IT skills shortages that prevail.

Horn, the co-founder and former CEO of the Irish middleware development firm Iona Technologies, was speaking at the launch of the latest CIO survey from IT recruitment firm Harvey Nash in Dublin.

In an innovative twist, Harvey Nash revealed the findings of its 15th annual CIO survey in 16 locations across the globe, including Dublin, to give a platform for leaders in the IT space to discuss and debate the changing role and careers of the CIO.

At the Dublin event, Horn took to the platform to give his perspective on IT job deficits and skill gaps in places such as Dublin, Silicon Valley and London, based upon his experience as a globetrotting investor.

Insights as an entrepreneur

Horn co-founded Iona Technologies along with Colin Newman and Sean Baker in Trinity College Dublin’s computer science department in the early 1990s.

The company is probably best known for being the second ever Irish technology firm to go public on the NASDAQ exchange. At the time, in 1997, it was the fifth largest IPO in NASDAQ history, with Iona raising US$137m in the process.

Moving to the ‘dark side’ – Horn

Horn, who sold Iona Technologies in 2008 for US$162m to US firm Progress Software, said he has crossed over to the “dark side” since then – alluding to his newfound guise as an investor and venture capitalist.

“I am now involved in venture capital,” he said, with a hint of humour. His work as an investor means he gets to travel to continental Europe, as well as places such as Stockholm, Munich, London and Berlin, and the west coast of the US.

Once a month, Horn said he makes the trek over to Palo Alto and Mountain View in Silicon Valley for board meetings. This is on top of actively working in Dublin and in Ireland.

“What I find interesting is that I am getting a really broad view of what’s happening in the industry specifically around innovation, start-ups, new companies springing up and what’s happening in the universities,” said Horn.

As part of this innovation and entrepreneurial explosion, Horn said recruitment and retention is becoming a “huge” issue for companies.

“In London, where I was yesterday, there was a very interesting company working in the mobile space and they are struggling because they cannot recruit people,” explained Horn. “They desperately need to strengthen their QA team. They just can’t hire enough engineers or developers,” he said.

“There are no salespeople in Silicon Valley,” he claimed. “And here in Dublin, as I am sure most of you know, it is incredibly difficult to get good talent.”

Watch and hear Horn in action in the following video as he explores the IT talent gap both at home and abroad, especially from the Dublin and Silicon Valley angle:

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic