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‘Globalisation is unstoppable’: a view from the US

Globalisation is ongoing even as the standards that govern global norms continue to evolve, delegates at an executive dinner in New York were told.

Under pressure from factors such as the rise of China and the conflict in Ukraine, existing institutions “don’t work anymore”, explained Rishad Tobaccowala, author and former chief growth officer at Publicis Groupe (see video, below). But the globalisation trend has not halted, it has simply transformed, with the world now headed for a future that, given demographics and population growth, is not exclusively “US-centric”.


Is globalisation in trouble?


Tobaccowala spoke at the annual dinner convened by Kelly/Newman Advisors (KNA), a US-based advisory firm that invests and advises businesses on growth strategy, particularly in the media and tech industries. KNA has assisted a number of BGF businesses as they have expanded in North America, including co-investing in and advising BGF-backed digital advertising business Dianomi, which completed a successful initial public offering (IPO) in 2021.


‘What matters is to find the right adviser’

Stephen Welton, executive chair of BGF, also spoke at the dinner.

“From the perspective of the UK, the US is a very different, dynamic and fast-moving economy,” he said. “That can make it challenging to access, especially for smaller growing companies. We have found that the key to success is to know what you are doing, to be well connected and to understand precisely the parts of the market you want to get into. Local knowledge is crucial. For many companies, what matters is to find the right adviser.”

Cate Poulson, head of the Talent Network, also spoke at the event.

“One of the quickest ways for a growing business to expand in a market such as the US is by making the right board appointment,” she explained. “A non-executive director or chair who is based in the target market, who has the right experience and contacts, can open doors that would otherwise be firmly shut. We find this is one of the best ways growing businesses can gain expertise.”


‘Great companies will come from anywhere’

KNA has worked with BGF on a number of board appointments for BGF portfolio businesses, helping them to reach their potential in North America. As well as serving as the non-executive chair of Dianomi, the firm’s co-founder Mike Kelly serves as the chair of mobile software developer Sliide, which BGF backed in 2020.

Mike Kelly said: “The world is changing. Globalisation is shifting into a different gear. Technology has altered the way we communicate – and this is only the start. Great companies will come from anywhere and use technology to scale globally. In this environment, growing businesses need to tap into networks to reach their potential. KNA looks forward to working with BGF-backed businesses in the years ahead.”


The next connected age

As well as globalisation, Tobaccowala put forward his theory of the ‘connected age’. The first connected age began in 1993 when the World Wide Web, invented by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, became public. The world transitioned to the second connected age in around 2007, when mobile technology allowed humans to be connected “all the time to everybody” (see video, above). Machine learning, which he describes as “data connected to data”, is ushering in the third connected age, to be followed by further innovations in the form of 5G, augmented reality and then virtual reality. He said that, together, these latter connected ages will far outpace the first two.

BGF Insights 05.10.2022

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