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3 impacts of Brexit on tech—and one silver lining

As investors digest the implication of Britain's vote to leave the European Union, the technology sector is hungrily examining every possible angle.

When the dust settles, the fallout should be relatively isolated regarding technology companies, Paul Holland, a general partner at Foundation Capital, told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Tuesday. But he still has some key big-picture concerns, he said.

"If this is the beginning of a retreat of the postwar compact that we've seen …. that hurts the Silicon Valley," Holland said. "I think that hurts American business in general. We thrive in sort of a liberal economy around the world — liberal, not in the American political sense, but in the real economic sense."

Here are three of the impacts Holland highlighted — and the one silver lining he said no one's mentioning.

1. Shifting locations of operation

Holland said that he thinks companies will take a second look at headquarters in Amsterdam, Brussels and Ireland as they scout locations that are still in the European Union. But in the short-term, a company whose sales force is looking to close deals in Europe might be at the most risk from Brexit.

"You're going to see those companies with the highest exposure to Europe and the U.K. — the large software companies, the large players in hardware — those are going to be the ones that are most at risk," Holland said. "I think that the broad players — the internet players, the e-commerce players and so forth — their risk is going to be mitigated, often because they have a large U.S. presence."

2. Increased importance of tech lobbyists

The overarching structure of the European Union used to take care of orchestrating the regulatory concerns of various countries, including the policies that impacted technology companies. But if other countries follow the U.K. and become more nationalistic, it could affect the resources technology puts into government relations, Holland said.

"If it continues and it's exacerbated from where it is today, over time, the companies are going to have to become stronger and stronger at things like lobbying and how they work with individual governments, wherever it might be," he said.

A commuter shelters herself from the rain beneath her umbrella as she walks under a rainbow into the city of London across Southwark Bridge in Central London on June 27, 2016.
Odd Andersen | AFP | Getty Images
A commuter shelters herself from the rain beneath her umbrella as she walks under a rainbow into the city of London across Southwark Bridge in Central London on June 27, 2016.

3. Another obstacle for venture capitalists exiting start-up investments

The year's biggest technology IPO so far, Twilio, had venture capitalists salivating over the idea they could cash out some of their investments. But Twilio's blockbuster debut was quickly overshadowed by the Brexit stock rout, which could be worrisome in a Valley that's all about entries and exits.

"We'd gone through a period over the past nine years of really just halcyon days — just a terrific time," Holland said. His firm saw 10 companies go public in 12 quarters, he said.

"What we've seen over the last several quarters is a pause," Holland said. There was a slowdown in the exit environment and we were just beginning to see that pick up. …. So the question mark for us is, 'What's this going to do to the exit environment?'"

A silver lining

Despite the unknowns in the post-Brexit environment, Holland said there's an unspoken silver lining to the U.K.'s vote to leave the EU.

"Let's imagine a scenario where the U.K. actually pioneers a less-regulated path — a less sort-of obstructionist path — toward business," Holland said. "We could see a bit of a renaissance happening there. If that happens, you're going to see people want to emulate that in other countries and in other marketplaces."

Indeed, Holland said he'll still be backing solid London-based entrepreneurs and he's confident that companies will find workarounds to the new regulatory environment, whatever it might be.

"I wouldn't say we're going to press the pause button it's too important of a marketplace," Holland said of the U.K.