Berlin at the web 2.0 Expo 09 in San Francisco – review

13. April 2009 - 10.11 pm Uhr

The third year in a row Berlin has had its booth at the web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. I think I remember Berlin being the only German booth as well as being the only economic development agency there in the past. Counting all companies there now I come to approx. 10 from Germany and their majority from the Berlin region. With this I think the German constituency seems to be the largest but one cannot be sure, since the origin of exhibitors cannot be searched. I do not know about the percentage of Germany attendees, I however met several and suppose they constitute the largest group from continental Europe. The Berlin booth was organized by Berlin Partner, Brandenburg was represented by the Zukunftsagentur (both economic development agencies), Solidground (BizDev) and Ralf Otto (TaxConsult) offered their services. Berlin @ web 2.0 expo The highlight turned out to be Metaversum or rather its project twinity, a real life 3D model of Berlin. It attracted many visitors which were curious about the project and gave a us a good starting point for discussions. I am not sure how the founders would like to see it described, I’d call it a mixture between Second Life and Facebook, taking the best things out of each (i.e. the 3D animated world only with “real” cities and the social network with real names and “real” avatars).  They will roll out Singapore and London next, I suppose the US will be tackled then. However, Zanox, who last time shared our booth had set up their own now and Germany Trade and Invest (the former Invest in Germany) had their own large booth, sharing it with the Fraunhofer Institute and Sachsen-Anhalt. Coremedia from Hamburg had a booth as well. Having been there already a  couple of years one could see the recession, I guess the exhibition area was rented out by 30% less and there were 2.000 visitors less. However, the glass was half full in my opinion: most of the exhibitors seemed to have returned and most of the attendees as well (10.000 last year). I share Jennifer Pahlka’s optimism – the vibe was good despite the economic downturn. We were able to show steadiness in our approach with the booth to market Berlin as the ideal investment location for a European expansion of US entrepreneurs. Of course we tried to bring our message across about the digital side of Berlin – we had the chance to talk to Sean Percival (twitter), founder of  the lalawag magazin about Berlin and our intentions. The lalawag covers tech culture, events, gossip and news from Los Angeles.
Another interesting encounter happened with Stuart Schulzke, director from FORA.tv who gather the  “web’s largest collection of unmediated video drawn from live events, lectures, and debates going on all the time at the world’s top universities, think tanks and conferences”. They know now about my choice between the iphone and Blackberry and, of course, about Berlin
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Berlin at the Web 2.0 Summit 2008

4. December 2008 - 7.08 pm Uhr

One of the most forward thinking events I have ever visited was the web 2.0 summit 2008 organized by O’Reilly Media. They are usually organized at the end of each year in November in San Francisco. It is an invitation only event (you can ask for one here) which has a steep price but in my opinion is worth every cent. The organizers limit the number of multipliers and service companies and so the majority of the participants is from  media, web, soft- and hardware companies. It was a more or less international event, the majority of people came from the US, understandably to a large extent from the Silicon Valley. However, I met Australians, many Europeans including half a dozen fellow countrymen and -women from Germany, and Asians.
A tip for those who don’t have thousands of $$$ left to spend for a ticket: like at any good conference there are always opportunities to network outside of the actual meeting rooms, many people spent the main hours of each day in the Lobby of the “Palace Hotel” and talked to the participants free of charge.
Going to the summit that week is worthwile as other organizations organize smaller events at that time as well, making use of the web summit week and thus making it easier to decide to travel because there is not only the 3 to 4 day summit but other events to learn and network. I used the time to meet companies at meetings I had scheduled in order to help them with their decision to expand to Europe/Germany/Berlin. I was pleasently surprised that even in the economic situation at the beginning of November 2008 I had discussions with companies looking at Europe and thus having a definite interest in Berlin, so that I could return home and follow up on the leads.
I was lucky enough to have been at the summt twice, 2007 and 2008. I plan on returning whenever possible. At both summits there was a line-up of excellent speakers and at both summits I was able to experience first hand decisions/information (for example: Yahoo CEO Yang), which largely influenced the web 2.0 and social media sphere.

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