Valley Voice
The Berlin state of mind

Microsoft is said to have acquired 6Wunderkinder, the Berlin-based startup behind the to-do list app “Wunderlist” – but do they really know what they get? Here’s some truth about the lovely German capital.
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Have you ever tried explain the phrase “Poor, but sexy” to anyone who is not from Kreuzberg or Mitte? Yes, just a few kilometers outside Berlin nobody understands what the former Berlin mayor, Klaus Wowereit, really wanted to say with this phrase. Why again it is attractive to have no money? Now try the same thing in Silicon Valley where every young professional’s paycheck is beyond 100,000 dollars a year.

But since my new friends in San Francisco know that I used to live in Berlin, they often ask me what they need to learn about the German startup scene. Most of the time I list the usual suspects, as there are Soundcloud, a music community, the science platform Researchgate, and Rocket Internet, the Samwer brothers’ incubator.

As it turns out we now have to add a new name to the list. According to news reports, Microsoft has bought 6Wunderkinder, the Berlin-based startup behind the to-do list app “Wunderlist”, for an amount ranging 100 and 200 million dollar. A small step for the aging software company from Redmond, Washington, that wants to complete its collection of apps. Microsoft has already acquired Acompli, a company from San Francisco. A big and important step however for 6Wunderkinder and Berlin.

For a long time the German capital has been trying to catch up to the international technology scene. And if Microsoft does not kill the young company, the acquisition can be a big milestone for all German entrepreneurs.

Kurz und schmerzhaft: alle Kolumnen


“But why aren’t they more Berlin startups?”, one of my Californian friends wanted to know when we sat down lately in our Soma living room, having gluten free pasta.
“It’s very hard for Berlin entrepreneurs to get funding”, I told him. “German investors are more reluctant to take a risk, and the city doesn’t have Stanford around the corner like the Valley”. My friend speared an olive. He said the last time he was in Berlin-Mitte, at a coffee shop, he was very surprised about how many people were there.

“Yes”, I said, nodding. “Berlin is also known for its very cool coffee places.” My friend looked at me as if he did not understand. “Yes, Britta, but that was during office hours. How do Berliners build the next million-dollar company without working?”

I got mad. This was so typically Californian, I told him, of course the Berliners can. They just have another style, it's that special Berlin State of Mind.

Of course that was long before I remembered that you can have breakfast in the city until 6pm – every day.

Es gibt auch eine deutsche Version dieser Kolumne.

Immer Dienstags schreibt Britta Weddeling, Korrespondentin für die Themen Internet und Netzwirtschaft des Handelsblatts im Silicon Valley, über die neusten Trends und kleinen Kuriositäten im Tal der Nerds.

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