Valley Voice
Mesosphere and the Game of Startups

Every other week German executives travel to California to learn about the secret sauce of the digital revolution. The answer to their question is, however, incredibly simple.
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Everybody knows that Germans love to travel. I for example grew up riding my bike in the almost deserted Netherlands, struggling against the wind on a slippery dyke. Winter was coming all the time and sometimes we met a sheep.

Germans can’t relax, especially when they travel. They also know quite a bit about The Wall. Every other week, no matter which time of year, a group of my bright-eyed compatriots troops through Silicon Valley, from the manufacturing industry to telecommunications, media and politics.

These tourists want to learn the secret sauce of “innovation” and “entrepreneurship”. So they drive around with Google’s four-colored bikes in Mountain View – Germans love their bicycle – others look tirelessly for Mark Zuckerberg in 1 Hacker Way, Menlo Park.

When the courageous voyagers are back home, they rave about the special “spirit”, the “risk appetite” and “all the money that is in the market right now”. These ingredients might be important for what’s going on in the Game of Startups, for sure.

Kurz und schmerzhaft: alle Kolumnen

Kolumnenkabinet

But there is something even more important. It’s working hard. You do not start a million dollar company by drinking latte macchiato all day in Berlin-Mitte. Also, you need to find somebody you can trust. I learned that when I first met two German founders, Florian Leibert and Tobias Knaup. We were riding our bikes – what else – crossing Golden Gate Bridge that day in early September.

The two founders of Mesosphere know each other since high school when they started their first business, selling good old floppy discs in Schweinfurt. Today their company provides software to help enterprises better make use of their data centers. Think of it like playing Tetris in the cloud.

They started in a tiny apartment in the Mission, these days they run a business with 150 plus employees, raised a 73,5 million dollars series C led by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, including Andreessen Horowitz and Khosla Ventures, with Microsoft as a strategic partner.

Today they change their business model. Mesosphere is open-sourcing their entire software with 60 different partners from the tech-industry, including Accenture, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. Their software, the "Datacenter Operating System" enables companies to run more operations on a server at the same time, which is important if you have a lot of users.

“Mesosphere drives the cloud revolution”, says one of the many partners, Mark Russinovich, CTO of Microsoft’s cloud business Azure, when I talked to him about Microsoft’s participation in the project. “This technology will help enterprises to come up with new businesses we can’t even think about today.”

So, Silicon Valley tourist, that you come from far far away, don’t look for the “spirits”, look for the people that get shit done – and sometimes for best friends.

Es gibt auch eine deutsche Version dieser Kolumne.

Britta Weddeling is a technology journalist with Handelsblatt, Germany's #1 business daily, based in San Francisco. She is author of a weekly English tech column called "Valley Voice" and contributes every week to a podcast at a major German radio station (Deutschlandradio,"Was mit Medien").

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