Posts Tagged ‘germany’
Adam Satariano and Stefan Nicola wrote for Bloomberg BusinessWeek about Berlin’s emergence as a startup hub. This is not mentioned in the article, but I wonder how Brexit will help or hinder this.
The Factory would feel pretty much like any big Silicon Valley headquarters, if you couldn’t see the death strip. In the 19th century, this 130,000-square-foot Berlin warehouse held a brewery. In the 20th, it was an air raid shelter, then rested in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. East German watchtower guards gunned down people trying to scramble across the border. (Hence the term “death strip.”) Today the retrofitted space is home to dozens of tech companies, including Uber and Twitter, and is the headquarters of the music streaming service SoundCloud.
Inside, the Factory is packed with all the perks of a Silicon Valley campus: nap rooms, scooters, 3D printing stations. Headphone-wearing millennials hunch over MacBooks or mill around a lounge where guitars hang from the wall near books with titles such as The Lean Startup and The Startup Game. Conference rooms are named for the regulars at Andy Warhol’s Factory. There are 700 people here; in addition to the full-time employees, a lot of individual tech workers pay €50 ($55) a month for access to a common work area.
“It’s a social club for startups,” says Factory co-founder Lukas Kampfmann, 30, wearing a T-shirt bearing the names Steve (as in Jobs), Elon (Musk), Bill (Gates), and Mark (Zuckerberg), printed in the font Helvetica like the familiar Beatles shirt. On the roof of the warehouse, with a clear view of the former death strip, Kampfmann says his community’s emulation of Silicon Valley isn’t an accident. “We admire American movies, culture, fashion, music,” he says, and this is the logical next step.
Across Berlin, young tech workers from throughout Europe are flooding into cafes and rehabbed Soviet-era buildings, drawn to the German capital by the promise of foosball-casual work environments, cheap rent, and an uninhibited party culture. It’s a package deal that can be tough to match elsewhere in Europe. A decade ago there were a few dozen tech startups in Berlin. Now there are 2,500, and the Investitionsbank Berlin, the government’s regional economic development agency, says there are 70 percent more digital jobs there than there were in 2008.
Although a handful of old-school conglomerates such as Siemens and SAP remain Germany’s most visible technology companies, they’re no longer the country’s main draw for aspiring hardware or software developers, says Martin Hellwagner, a 27-year-old coder who moved to Berlin from Austria in early 2014. “I really wanted to work for a startup,” says Hellwagner, who spends 60 hours a week working on Uberchord, a guitar-lessons app. “You have more responsibilities. It’s not just a 9-to-5. You actually change something, and your opinion matters.”
Bloomberg View’s Mark Gilbert writes about the advantages, and disadvantages, of London’s different Eurozone competitors for its financial industry. Paris seems to come out broadly in the lead.
Have you heard? The platforms of London’s St. Pancras train station and the departure lounges of its airports are packed with anxious investment bankers, ordered by their employers to relocate following Brexit.
Of course, that isn’t happening at all; the U.K. decision to leave the European Union hasn’t prompted an overnight exodus. But the banks that warned they’d consider moving thousands of staff out of a non-EU Britain are surely assessing “the next two weeks, two months and two years,” as consultancy firm KPMG put it when appointing one of its senior partners to be head of its new Brexit division. “The French government, the German government, a number of governments, are making, if I may call it this way, a case for people to move to their jurisdiction,” UBS Chief Executive Officer Andrea Orcel said on Tuesday. So which competing financial center looks most attractive?
On cost-cutting grounds alone, there are a number of options. London regularly vies with Hong Kong as the most expensive world city for renting office space. It ranks second according to figures compiled by real-estate firm CBRE for the first quarter of this year, with Paris 14th, Dublin at 30th and Frankfurt down at 47th. For a bank seeking a cheap European office, Frankfurt and Luxembourg look the best bets:
For a human resources department seeking the best overall environment for its employees, Frankfurt also looks attractive. In its annual scorecard of cities based on overall quality of life, including considerations such as political stability, economic backdrop, personal freedom and school systems, the consulting firm Mercer ranks the German financial capital as the seventh best place to live. Its 2016 ranking of 230 cities puts Luxembourg 19th and Dublin 33rd[.]
Bankers ordered to relocate can anticipate lower housing costs wherever they end up. For city-center apartments, London is the second most expensive city in Europe after Monaco, with Paris third at almost half the cost, and Luxembourg 10th. Frankfurt and Dublin, though, are even cheaper[.]
The Waterloo Region Record‘s Jeff Outhit notes that, exactly one hundred years ago today in the middle of the First World War, the southwest Ontario city of Berlin had its name changed to Kitchener against the will of its inhabitants. (Via James Nicoll.)
Residents voted narrowly to change Berlin’s name in the midst of the First World War to prove loyalty and stem the backlash against a city with deep German roots.
Canadian soldiers were battling Germany, dying amid distant thunder on the Western Front in Europe. Canada, consumed by anti-German sentiment, eyed Berlin darkly, uneasy about buying goods stamped Made in Berlin, suspicious of its young men who were reluctant to enlist.
It was the darkest time in the city’s history. You can see the city on edge in a new exhibit by that name at the Waterloo Region Museum. It runs through December.
The space is laid out like a maze. That’s meant to disorient you just as people would have felt in 1916. “We want people to feel confused,” said Tom Reitz, museum manager.
The exhibit has what you might expect, relics and artifacts, and what you might not, modern podiums and touch screens to explain how the name change still resonates. There’s film and art and sound and conflict.
There’s the printing plate from the ballot that produced the new name. There’s a napkin ring that might have been crafted out of a stolen, melted bust of Kaiser Wilhelm I, but probably wasn’t. The Kaiser’s ghost hovers above it all.
Reitz is from German stock. His great-grandfather immigrated as a carpenter and lived on Wilhelm Street in Berlin. He wonders: how did his ancestors feel about abandoning Berlin’s name? Did they vote?
“What did they think of this?” he asks. The answer is lost to time.