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Tech companies should put growth first, says Sir Hossein Yassaie


Fast-growing British technology companies must “go for scale and go for revenues”, rather than profits in the short term, or risk falling behind global rivals, a British tech boss has warned.

“US companies do go for scale, they do go for revenues. They don’t have to go and get a profit for three or four years,” said Sir Hossein Yassaie. “American companies build revenues fast.” In contrast, many in Britain worry too much about profits and that “restricts scale”, especially as it can take many years to develop a successful product.

The chief executive of Imagination Technologies, designer of graphic processors for Apple’s iPhone and iPad, also warned that Britons needed to take the impact of the tech revolution more seriously. “Technology is an enabling force that touches everything,” said Sir Hossein.

“If you don’t develop technology, if you don’t look after it, you won’t succeed and you’ll end up depending on other countries.”

He went on: “An average Korean would understand why their country needs to be strong in technology. The average Briton doesn’t.”

The Imagination Technologies boss added that the rise of “the internet of things” – with home appliances, cars and “wearables” like watches becoming connected to the mobile internet – opened up huge possibilities in healthcare, energy and agriculture.

“I think we’re done with entertaining people,” he said, referring to the way the tech revolution has focused until now on areas of entertainment such as smartphones, tablets and TV.

“If ordinary people think that what they’ve seen in the last 10 years has been dramatic, the next 10 years is going to shock them,” he declared, suggesting that wearable technology could even “go into the body” and TV screens could blend into wallpaper when they are not being used.

Sir Hossein was speaking ahead of the Mobile World Congress trade fair, the industry’s biggest annual trade fair, which opens today in Barcelona. Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, will give the keynote address and Samsung will launch its new Galaxy S5 smartphone.

WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum is also due to speak about his five-year-old messaging service which he has sold to Facebook for $19bn (£11bn), proof that WhatsApp’s 430 million users matter more than its relatively low revenues.