Answer: Their lips are moving
The Telegraph is running a great series of columns on startups in europe, edited by the ever controversial but never dull Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero on twitter)
The piece on the 20th January was provocatively titled Are European start ups lazy? which got some predictably annoyed reactions from hard working startups in europe.
The underlying question is valid though - why is Silicon Valley better at producing startups than Europe? I'm fortunately to have spent time working for a US company based in Silicon Valley - and made many friends there who have or are working in startups. My overall impression? Silicon Valley is better than europe because of the density, and the competitiveness of startup culture.
When I take time with my friends in the US to talk discussion is never far away from startups - whether the progress of other startups, what people have seen or heard, reaction from people who are funding, the challenges of finding the right co-founders, how to hire engineers, what are the right technology choices to make, what are different people's experiences with technology. All fantastic background information, and all very intimidating - for any startup question that you might ask, you know there are 20 other people asking the same question, and spending time coming up with the best answer, faster than you - so you are compelled to raise your game.
When I contrast this with discussions I have with startups in London - many more of the discussions seem to be less advanced - and certainly less "polished". The "fear factor" isn't there that other people are moving faster, and better than you - thus you need to raise your game to succeed. In fact the european bias to preferring companies with "real revenues", compared to the "potential for world domination" hinders here - I can't imagine a conversation between to european entrepreneurs that goes:
Entrepreneur 1: "How are things going?"
Entrepreneur 2: "Good, we hit $5m revenue this month"
Entrepreneur 1: "Sweet, but isn't your growth a bit flat, you were $4m last month - we are doubling our revenue monthly"
Entrepreneur 2: "Yes you are right, we need to grow faster"
When you are surrounded by people who are all beating you, then the pressure to perform better is relentless - after all other people are managing it.