Angela Merkel to startups and entrepreneurs: “Can we be friends?”

07 Mar, 2013

It’s quite a love fest in startup world. There was Neelie Kroes recently in Brussels calling them “rebels without a cause” and saying she had decidedly motherly feelings about entrepreneurs. And today, while visiting Cebit, Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel asked the startups present: “can we be friends?”

Earlier today, Merkel visited fast growing startups Researchgate and Wooga. This evening, she gave a speech in the Kulturbrauerei for a 150 startup founders and investors. Lars Hinrichs, founder of Xing and Hackfwd made the introductions, and put it quite straightforward to  Merkel and her Economy minister Philip Rössler: the 175 founders and CEO’s of the startups and tech companies represent annual revenues of € 21 billion, and give work to 127 000 people.

He added: “And 95 percent of us are confident that we’ll show growth again this year.”

And Merkel did her best to please the crowd: “We are conscious of the fact that you guys are the leaven that will make this startup scene grow,” she said. “I don’t want to call you ‘dear friends’ yet. We can take our time to grow closer.’

The founders asked Merkel for

  • a more liberal employment market (not sure whether they mean easier hiring and firing or easier entrepreneur’s visa – I asked Lars Hinrichs on Twitter)
  • a better investment climate for startups (I suppose this means favorable tax conditions for investors, and for things like option pools)
  • harmonization of European regulations for startups (which Merkel already pleaded for earlier this week)

As Frankfurter Allgemeine notes, it’s an election year, and entrepreneurs are praised and prized in every European country because they embody that rarest of rare earth minerals: growth. So the iron is definitely hot for the entrepreneurial lobby. The question is whether it is mature and organized enough to navigate the hallways of power successfully.

[FAZ][Photo: markhillary, Flickr]

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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