TV Tower (Berlin/Germany)

What Berlin needs

Having spent a few days recently in Berlin, firstly the Hy Festival, and then at the Europas, talking to a number of Berlin-based VCs, entrepreneurs and commentators, Berlin needs two things: one good, one bad.

The good.
Berlin needs a hit-it-for-six exit, the breakaway try, the volley from outside of the box. It doesn’t matter who it is, but Berlin needs to show it can build real companies.

There is a world of speculation about whether Rocket is going to float, or just one of its properties. While both are possible my money is on the latter. The obvious candidate is Zolando. While the company has yet to report a profit, it has a very healthy income stream.

In an interview with Die Welt (tip of the hat to Venture Village) the founders are remarkably candid about their figures and their plans.

If it isn’t Zolando then who? The other leading lights of the Berlin scene are the likes of SoundCloud and Wooga. Both are great companies; are either ready to go public?

An acquisition is always possible of course. There have been rumours about ResearchGate exiting. There are always rumours around SoundCloud. EA bought Playfish a few years back — is someone eyeing up Wooga?

Now the bad.
Berlin needs a big ugly failure. It needs someone to crash and burn in a horrible way. The city’s over-heating community needs a healthy dose of reality. All entrepreneurs are essentially fantasists, but there is a worrying gap growing between aspiration and reality, a gap being filled by a growing bubble.

An ugly failure would go some way to taking some of the air out of the bubble. So who will it be? I can think of a couple of start ups that it hard to see have much of a future.

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