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Startups make Berlin European tech hub

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - 02:59

July 26 - Germany's capital city, known for its creative spirit and affordable living costs is attracing young entrepreneurs and startups like Soundcloud and Wooga, as it becomes Europe's technology hub. Joanna Partridge reports

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None of Germany's top 30 listed companies are based in Berlin. But the capital city is attracting young entrepreneurs and gaining a reputation as Europe's new technology hub. Alex Ljung and Eric Wahlforss are from Sweden - but they chose to base their startup Soundcloud in the city. Their company is on online platform for people who want to share sound, including musicians like Bjork and the Foo Fighters, or rapper 50 Cent. SOUNDBITE: Eric Wahlforss, Co-founder of Soundcloud, saying (English): "50 Cent has actually done quite a few really cool stuff with Soundcloud recently, so he invited all of his fans to basically create a remix of a track that he put up where he was just like rapping over a really light kind of beat, there was almost nothing to the song, so it was just him and his voice and like within a couple of, a few days basically he got back like 3000 remixes." Soundcloud was started to allow musicians to share their recordings - but it's evolved into something bigger, says Alex. SOUNDBITE: Alexander Ljung, Co-founder of Soundcloud, saying (English): "It goes beyond creators of music into creators of all kinds of audio content and I think what we didn't expect, but what we're starting to see now is people using it as a tool of personal expression. Like I have a thought, record it and send it to the world." The site has around four and a half million active users. It's free to join, but accounts which come with more features have an annual fee of between 30 and 500 euros. As Soundcloud grows - they keep hiring - and say it's easy to attract staff. Mike Butcher, Editor of TechCrunch Europe, says he's not surprised. SOUNDBITE: Mike Butcher, Editor of TechCrunch Europe, saying (English): "A very international scene, a lot of people speak English, it has a big arts scene which attracts a lot of internationals. Economically pretty affordable, so if you're developing a new technology start-up and you don't have any pre-exisiting revenues, then that's a great advantage. What's going to happen is that the start-ups which are getting visibility tend to have more of an international footprint and therefore attract the interest of the Silicon Valley venture capital community." PTC: While companies like Soundcloud and many of the other start-ups based here are continually hiring new staff, they aren't necessarily contributing to the local economy, as many of them tend to bring in money, expertise and people from abroad. That's also the case at Wooga. They're Europe's largest developer of online social games - which you can play on Facebook. They also have an ever-growing international workforce. With unemployment at 13% Berlin still lags behind the rest of Germany. It's not clear how much of a boost the likes of Wooga and Soundcloud will give the city's economy. But for many Berlin startups, it seems the sky's the limit. Joanna Partridge, Reuters

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Startups make Berlin European tech hub

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - 02:59