#Asia Think your startup made a pivot? UK’s Ghost is completely uprooting itself to move to Singapore


While complicated regulations pushed Ghost out of the UK, Singapore’s startup scene pulled it in


In what the company called, “easily the biggest business change we’ve made to Ghost since it started”, the not-for-profit open source publishing platform announced late last night it will be shutting down all UK operations and reincorporating the company in Singapore.

“This was a huge decision which represents the conclusion of a full year of research, planning and hard work. So, we wanted to take a moment to share exactly how and why we’re doing it,” Co-founder John O’Nolan wrote on his blog.

So? How and why are they making this move? Well, in a disappointingly boring answer, it comes down to Value Added Tax (VAT) regulations implemented by the European Union in January 2015.

Also Read: UK’s Entrepreneur First to launch in Singapore to help spur innovation

What has been dubbed #VATMOSS, the rules were meant to prevent large Internet companies like Amazon and Google to dodge taxes by funneling sales through Luxembourg and its low VAT rate. However, critics point out the tax law was akin to ocean bed trawling — catching a lot of smaller fish in its net.

And, in the end, the headache of paperwork along with the necessary price increases for customers was enough to push Ghost out the UK.

Why Singapore

Singapore checked all the boxes for what Ghost needed to run its company — obviously it is outside of the EU, regulations make it easy for foreigners to incorporate in the city and it supports Stripe for online payments.

The other tipping-point factors were Singapore’s well-documented ranking as one of the most business-friendly cities in the world. Ghost also specifically pointed out the startup scene as a tick in the pro column.

Also Read: You won’t believe this: Singapore developing plans to 3D print homes

Incorporating in Singapore will probably look a little different for Ghost than the average company. The company has no real headquarters (and shows no sign of intending to build one). Its employees/volunteers are scattered all across the world and are working for a global audience. Plus, it is a non-profit.

So, while Ghost is incorporating in Singapore, it is not about to rent out prime real estate in Raffles Tower.

What is Ghost?

Ghost is a Open Source blogging platform meant to be a free, simplified, software alternative to WordPress.

The project is run mostly by volunteers with a small paid staff working for the Ghost Foundation. It generates revenue with its Ghost(Pro) product — a web hosting service starting at US$10 a month.

Its long term project is to build a marketplace with free and premium products for the Ghost ecosystem.


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