The most important aspect of the 6Wunderkinder exit to Microsoft is not about money
The exit of 6Wunderkinder, in 2010 my first ever investment with my previous firm HTGF, is big for Berlin and Germany. Not only for the obvious monetary (those involved) and motivational (everybody else in the ecosystem) reasons, but as another example of a recent trend which is crucial in the current stage of the development of our local ecosystem: German startups finally being bought by leaders of the tech industry.
A key problem of the local startup ecosystem is (or hopefully: used to be) the lack of exit options. The local players are either financially to weak or not ambitious and innovative enough to be a relevant channel for large size exits. And the large players are basically all US-bound (and mainly on the West Coast) with their German subsidiaries being mostly sales & service organizations with little relevance for product development or even own R&D units. As a result large US technology and software firms rarely bought German tech startups, they simply did not want to deal with the hassle of having some satellite dev and product team somewhere in Germany which seemed hard to manage.
This is starting to change with some additional examples below:
- Peritor, acquired by Amazon / Amazon Web Services in 2012 and the product now being a part of the overall offering (AWS Opsworks) and the team being expanded into a German R&D unit of AWS
- HockeyApp, also acquired by Microsoft in late 2014 and the product being continued and expanded by the founding team
- Metaio, acquired by Apple in 2015, however it seems they also had a lot of operations in the US
Let’s all hope this trend continues, since it is crucial for our ecosystem and maybe also wakes the local players up that there is relevant and valuable tech being developed by this new generation of German founders! And by the way, this also brings money into the ecosystem…