Tech leaders talk about making it in America (and Germany) -


Tech leaders talk about making it in America (and Germany)

The Transatlantic Entrepreneur Conference sought to build connections between Brooklyn and Germany. Here are highlights from the closing night of talks.

Albert Wenger explains how technology is upending the economic order at the Transatlantic Entrepreneur Conference, Sept. 4, 2014.

(Photo by Tobias Everke/NY International)

For many thousands of years we were hunters and foragers. For a few thousand years we were farmers. For the last few hundred years we’ve lived in an industrial society.

We’re about to change again, said venture capitalist Albert Wenger at the Transatlantic Entrepreneur Conference at Borough Hall last night.

“There’s a new set of nonlinear technologies,” the Union Square Ventures partner explained. “We are in that phase where the impact will be felt. We are about to have another transition.”

Talk about a note to close on.

The three-day conference series seeks to connect Brooklyn with the tech scenes of European countries. This year’s country was Germany. The conference featured pitches, field trips, dinners and, for its final night, talks.

The United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, explained to an audience of about 100 the youth unemployment problems in Europe and elsewhere.

He said that tax and labor laws, especially in Europe, are making it exceedingly difficult for young people to break into the careers their parents had. Unemployment for young workers in Spain and Greece is greater than 50 percent, and it’s not great (though not as extreme) in the other Eurozone states.

“There are 670 million young people in the world between 15 and 24,” Alhendawi said. “Who is going to create those jobs? Governments? I don’t think so. Private companies. I am not convinced. They must create those jobs themselves.”

Enter tech.

Because of its ample possibilities for entertainment and new relationships, New York has emerged as the place for that kind of innovation to take place, said Maria Cometto, author of Tech and the City, who spoke in a panel discussion.


“Quality of life is very important,” she explained. “Fred Wilson moved here 30 years ago because his wife thought New York was the most exciting place to live. Dennis Crowley had Dodgeball bought by Google [and was asked to move to Silicon Valley] and he said, ‘No, thank you,’ and started Foursquare.”

Borahm Cho emigrated from Berlin and came to Brooklyn, where he co-founded Kitchensurfing, the service where people can rent professional chefs to prepare restaurant-quality meals in their own homes.

Cho was recently back from Burning Man and was thoughtful with his response about the difference between starting Kitchensurfing in Berlin and Brooklyn.

“In Berlin there are a bunch of legal issues, tax issues,” he said. “I love Berlin and the food scene, but it’s like Brooklyn 10 years ago. But that means it’s also a good time to disrupt.”

Attendees of the Transatlantic Entrepreneur Conference heard talks from both Brooklyn and Berlin-based industry leaders.

Attendees of the Transatlantic Entrepreneur Conference heard talks from both Brooklyn and Berlin-based industry leaders. (Photo by Tobias Everke/NY International)

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