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Head of Facebook EMEA tentacle to become Tech City UK chief

Former Bebo-ite to queen it over digital Shoreditch

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London's Tech City has poached a top Facebook VP to become its new CEO.

In what is seen as a coup for the Tech City Investment Organisation, Joanna Shields, VP and Managing Director of Facebook Europe, Middle East and Africa has now taken up the £115,000-a-year CEO job. The work will involve her pushing forward Tech City's key aims - attracting investment from the UK and abroad, supporting companies in the cluster and raising its international profile.

Shields will also serve as Business Ambassador for the Digital Agencies, representing British digi businesses abroad. Prime Minister David Cameron weighed in to comment on the appointment:

I’m delighted that Joanna is joining the Tech City Investment Organisation. 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 UK compete and thrive in the global race.

American-born Shields previously lived in London while serving as Facebook's EMEA manager. Before that she worked at Google and was formerly CEO of Bebo, managing its commercial operations before it was bought by AOL. She notably pushed Bebo to becoming more of an entertainment hub and introduced the online video series "Kate Modern".

Shields will also now chair the Tech City Advisory Group she previously served on.

The advisory group's role is to shape the next phase of government support for Tech City and consists of representatives from companies and institutions in the area including UCL, Mother Advertising Agency, MindCandy - the makers of Moshi Monsters, and Register favourites Eric van der Kleij and Ben Hammersley.

Shields was bullish for East London's prospects, suggesting that it could beat out Silicon Valley under the leadership of the Organisation:

Working in the UK for the past decade has proven to me that this country has the potential to become a major force in digital innovation ...

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 Organisation 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.

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