Facebook Executive Joanna Shields to Oversee London Tech Hub in Challenge to Silicon Valley

1:42 AM PST 10/22/2012 by Georg Szalai
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The former AOL and Google executive will leave the social network to become CEO of the Tech City Investment Organization next year and help "make London the number one location for tech in the world."

LONDON - Technology industry veteran Joanna Shields, who currently oversees Facebook's European operations and used to be a top AOL executive, will take over the management of East London's burgeoning tech hub next year to help it challenge Silicon Valley.

The current Facebook vp for Europe, Middle East and Africa will leave the social network to become CEO of the Tech City Investment Organization (TCIO) as of January, the British government announced. She will also serve as business ambassador for the U.K.’s digital industries and  chairman of the Tech City Advisory Group.

TCIO was launched in April 2011 to help attract companies to the expanding tech and digital media cluster, draw investment and make London a key location for tech firms in Europe. Tech City already includes such firms as Google, Intel, Cisco and University College London.

Wired magazine last year named Shields the "Most Influential Person in European Technology."

"The success of Tech City shows just what can happen when we back some of our most innovative and aspiring companies to grow, helping the U.K. compete and thrive in the global race," said British British Prime Minister David Cameron. "Joanna's experience will be hugely valuable in supporting Tech City as it goes from strength to strength and as a Business Ambassador promoting the U.K. around the world."

Shields said: “Working in the U.K. for the past decade has proven to me that this country has the potential to become a major force in digital innovation."

She added: “Throughout my career I have had the privilege of working with great entrepreneurs and innovators to create thriving new businesses and industries. The seeds have been sown in East London for a dynamic and successful cluster: we have the infrastructure, the technology and the talent, now we need to accelerate the growth. I am looking forward to leading the Tech City Investment Organization in the next phase of its development. With the right boost now, there is no reason why we can’t make London the number one location for tech in the world."

Before her role at Facebook, Shields was president of people networks at AOL, a role in which she was in charge of the firm's social and communications businesses. She previously also served as CEO of social network Bebo and Google’s managing director for Europe, Russia, Middle East and Africa.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai
 

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