At VentureVillage, we report on hackathons, beer apps, Russian back-outs, hit songs, acquisitions, and $42 million losses, but sometimes we neglect to let you in on the bread and butter of our jobs and maybe even yours. What are we talking about this time?
Charm is what let you score that flat on Friedrichstrasse for €100 less. It’s the reason your mother used to toast you an extra piece of bread at breakfast. It’s why Helmut Schmidt’s still on talk shows and what lost Bill Clinton his job. It sometimes inhabits psychopaths and often leads to major successes. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we selected Berlin’s ten most charming CEOs, the guys (and girls) who, through countless interviews, antics and estimations make our jobs just a little bit easier. Who’s the MOST charming of them all? You decide. Voting (bottom) ends midnight Thursday.
Oli Samwer (EFF): Least likely to friend you on Facebook
What’s not to love? He puts out hit singles, has a burning passion for shoes, reads the classics… He even asked us to be his Valentine (but we declined, of course). Sure he’s tough, insane, and maybe a little egotistical, but at the end of the day, when it comes to our favorite cleft-chinned founders about town, this one’s batting his eyes pretty hard.
He works hard, writes bestselling books on America’s (?) most successful startups, once put his life on the line to sell ringtones to minors, and never fails to entertain us. Plus, there’s no one we’d rather go furniture shopping with. Even if everyone else leaves his side this year, we’ll keep toasting to him.
Alex Ljung (SoundCloud): Most likely to sing in (your?) shower
Alex does his work because it’s fun and rewarding. What could be cooler than that? He’s an ex-author, ex-sound designer, ex-business advisor, current-hobby-hacker and occasional public speaker. He knows the right way not to shave, is redefining the music industry, and this is the man he wants to be. He’s also the right balance of connected and independent. You won’t see him out every weekend (because he travels so much), but he seems to make time to chat whenever we ask. Where can you find him? SoundCloud, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Upcoming, Plazes, delicious, Last.fm, LinkedIn, Twitter, Friendfeed, and Dopplr.
Edial Dekker (Gidsy): Most likely to buy you a beer
OK, so he may have gotten a little VIP after Ashton invested, but we forgive him. He’s 27, has a huge head of curls, likes to cook, and keeps a garden at Tempelhof. Before moving to Berlin from Amsterdam (props) and starting Gidsy, he considered himself a “cook, a new-media student and a blogger”. Plus he’s making waves in the experiential economy and giving us Guides to Building Our Own Home Cocktail Bars. Want to meet up with him? Three months ago on his blog he wrote,”If you like us on Gidsy, I’ll buy beer for you. Really.” Really? At least one of us may take you up on that.
Zoe Adamovicz (Xyologic): Most likely to dress up in black leather
The first time we met Zoe, the word ‘fierce’ came to mind: She’s hot, tall (maybe 6ft tall), and running her own company strictly through cashflow (that’s impressive). She came to Berlin to study Niklas Luhmann, built her first startup at 20, and has a cat that looks like a leopard. She’s dating one very cool South African (bummer!) and she always comes prepared with a story to tell us. Plus, we think she’s secretly a romantic communication phenomena and complex system (she did try to launch the Twitter for dating, after all).
Lasse Clausen (Foundd): Most likely to make your jaw drop
Lasse is an international traveler and entrepreneur devoting his life to improving our movie-watching experience. Can we complain? He’s smart, authentic, and always sharing the latest popular science with us. Lasse started his first ecommerce site during university (selling small design objects from the Chatuchak market in Bankgok). Before founding Foundd, he fiddled around in many different projects. He even started a little hedge fund and traded in derivatives. He’s the guy who will pick up your gloves if you leave them at the brunch table, the guy who made unsolicited mix tapes for you in 5th grade.
Henrik Berggren (Readmill): Most likely to write you a love letter
Henrik is a cute nerd. He’s passionate, quippy, and never hesitates to lend us his cashmere sweaters. His company Readmill has made a community of book worms and bestsellers. If you need a CEO friend to count on, Henrik’s your man. Our favorite memory with him was redubbing a Sound of Music track (you know the one where Maria leaves the convent?), considering recording it, and deciding to party instead. If you want to meet the man in person, why not apply for an interview? Good luck! We hear he’s very picky ; )
Mark Hoffmann (Vertical Media): Most likely to hire your girlfriend
We couldn’t do a rundown of Berlin’s most charming CEOs without mentioning our own. He’s smart, funny, adorable, and managing a team that is 70 per cent female. He’s also building up the next largest online media company in Berlin. Move over, Axel Springer. You have to give him props. Before he was our CEO, he was professional geek and TV host at GIGA television and ESL TV. He always wears dirty white sneakers and v-necks (no chest hair.) And, he has a baby on the way (Leak.)
Verena Delius (Young Internet): Most likely to land a spot on Supernanny
Why we like her? Verena’s making a living building safe, cool, social games for kids aged 2-12 years old on tablet computers, smartphones and the web. When we remember our childhoods sitting on street corners with a GameBoy, we’re glad somone’s taking action. As CEO of Young Internet, she’s built up a team of 60 people just in the Berlin office, winning the title of Europe’s leading social gaming company for kids. She’s spunky, willing to make huge changes, and believes in showing weakness. That’s powerful. In 2007 she won McKinsey’s “CEO of the future” award. And since, she’s been giving inspiring talks, like this one on how we can avoid becoming boiled frogs.
Sebastian Funke (Smeet): Most likely to hit on your avatar
For a founder of a company that’s connecting awkward nerds with (less) awkward avatars, Sebastian is anything but socially inept. He’s engaging, light-hearted, and full of energy. He also has a killer set of curls and a cheeky grin to match. When we meet him for interviews, he always looks freshly-washed and clean-shaven. We only wonder what he does in his second life. As CEO of Smeet, he’s building up the virtual social empire that will never ever let you down if you want to be an Italian mafia-vatar. And we like that.
Claudia Helming (Dawanda): Most likely to knit you a iPhone cover
As CEO of the chic online marketplace Dawanda, Claudia is a powerful, innovative member of the village here in Berlin. She’s demonstrated the business know-how to turn a small entity into a thriving company. As a person, she’s down-to-earth, grounded, and graceful. She served gingerbread biscuits during an interview, and keeps cabinets full of knitwear and puppets from fans. She’s also giving us a place to sell our hand-made keychains. Right on.
Thumbnail image credit: flickr user twm1340