I salute Lady THATCHER - Shoreditch's SILICON GODMOTHER
Investor Steve directs the baroness's funeral
By Steve Bong • In Bootnotes • At 11:44 GMT 12th April 2013
"No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions; he had the majority of voting shares as well" -
Motivational poster at Bong Ventures London HQ.
I am dictating this sotto voce from the nerve centre of Operation True Blue at an undisclosed location in Whitehall
STOP My assistant มาลัย (which means 'Garland of Flowers' in Thai) will transcribe it for you
STOP Next Wednesday the nation will pay tribute to the greatest living Prime Minister, Baroness Thatcher, alas now dead, and I am playing a vital role as the Operation's Social Media Engagement consultant
STOP Every major funeral needs one
STOP NEW PARAGRAPH
By necessity during this grave national emergency this will be a shorter column than usual
STOP NEW PARAGRAPH
As you know I draw my personal, spiritual and business philosophy from two figures: Ayn Rand, and the His Holiness the Dalai Lama. So where exactly, does Margaret Hilda Roberts fit into my Weltanschauung?
My story is similar to millions of other working-class lads in the 1980s, whose lives were transformed by the Thatcher revolution. My mother was technically an addict and I was sent to tough schools in Geneva, Zurich and upstate New York. Years of dependency followed, and then self-discovery on the beaches of Goa. Like so many others, a large council estate looms in my background. Actually, it's a large estate that looms in my background. But in this hour of national mourning, we should not split hairs.
Just like that other great emblem of digital entrepreneurial Britain Martha Lane-Fox - the new Baroness of Soho - I overcame great wealth and privilege and connections to get where I am today. It wasn't easy, and it we owe it all to Margaret.
Just stand on the rooftop of any mix-used loft space in Hoxton and look around you. Then ask yourself the question: would any of this have been possible without Thatcher?
Only thirty years ago, these streets of East London were littered with ugly coal mines, and the air was black with asbestos and soot. Closing the Hoxton Collieries was essential to transforming the region. She took on the miners here in a battle they said she couldn't win. But she did, and her victory paved the way for The Trampery and so many other shared workspaces for technology entrepreneurs. Would this Roundabout of startups today be made of Silicon without Thatcher? Would it have an Ambassador? I don't think so.
Thatcher swept away Old Labour's policy of supporting basket cases through quangos such as the National Economic Development Office ('Neddy') and Economic Development Committees. Instead, today we have Nesta and The Technology Strategy Board and Regional Development Funds supporting some vigorously unprofitable internet businesss - an astonishing tranformation. It's a truly different country today, thanks to the Iron Lady. Deference has been replaced by Facebook Likes, and rigid class divisions by Google+ circles.
And for those people who complain that Lady Thatcher destroyed working-class solidarity - all I can say is: "You can't ever have been to a digital Shoreditch meetup."
However, I am keenly aware that inclusivity was one of Lady Thatcher's great passions. I am proposing the funeral finds room for some of those who disagreed with the policies of the Thatcher governments; people who have featured so prominently on the BBC this week.
So, as the RAF's remaining three serviceable fighter aircraft swoop overhead (hopefully no parts will drop off, as they did in the dry run over Wiltshire yesterday) a small reinforced transparent perspex tumbril containing a small number of radical socialists, anarchists and the Archbishop of Canterbury will be added to the rear of the cortege, as a gesture of inclusivity.
This will play a tasteful selection of Ozric Tentacles and Billy Bragg material at low volume while projecting live tweets (#maggiemaggiemaggie). Shortly before the cortege reaches St Paul's Cathedral, this low-carbon emission vehicle will peel away from the main cortege and discharge its occupants in Shoreditch before the TV cameras - so the country doesn't miss a second of the vital SEO, web design and digital entrepreneurship work they do. It's what she would have wanted.
And my next mission? Aboard the Gulfstream with Eric to a top-secret destination (Hint: it's a the Juche-oriented socialist state. Things have got a little out of hand since our last visit. We have work to do, and fast.)
Bong Out. ®
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Steve Bong (formally Lord Bong) is the founder of Bong Ventures, an early stage investor and incubator focussing on innovative new technology start-ups based in Shoreditch, London. When he's not helping rear the next generation of business models, Steve enjoys parties, foreign travel, extreme cuisine, Open Data and draws his inspiration from Ayn Rand and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. He advised (then hired) No.10 policy guru Rahul Sativa on mindfulness and innovation, Mark Zuckerberg on the Perfect IPO, the Republic of Kazakhstan on emergent social media strategies, LOCOG on brand enforcement, and imagineered the Olympic Opening Ceremony with Danny Boyle. He wants to pivot the BBC into the 22nd Century, and favours Small Government but Large Catapults.