22. May 2017–
The German capital — once described as "poor but sexy" by former mayor Klaus Wowereit — may be arty but it has struggled to compete with other German cities such as Frankfurt and Hamburg when it comes to economic output.
There are signs, however, that this is starting to change, thanks in part to a surge in the number of technology companies that are now based in Berlin.
From tech giants like Google and Facebook to local success stories like music streaming service SoundCloud and to-do list app Wunderlist, Berlin is spawning a diverse range of technology firms that employ thousands of people across the city.
Here are 28 of the coolest tech firms in Berlin:
Daheim is a social startup that's aiming to help refugees across Germany to learn German. The startup's platform allows refugees from countries like Iraq and Afghanistan to have a Skype-like video call with a German-speaking person who is happy to try to help refugees to learn the language.
Funding: Between €60,000 and €70,000
Number of staff: 9 (volunteers)
27. Heuro Labs
Heuro Labs comprises a team of 10 computer scientists, quantum physicists, and mathematicians developing an artificial intelligence platform called Cognitio. The company states on its website that its mission is to make machines intelligent and autonomous so that humans can focus on other tasks.
Funding: Not disclosed
Number of staff: 10
26. Tech Open Air
Tech Open Air is a summer festival in Berlin that aims to combine tech, music, art and science. The idea for the festival was conceived in 2014 and has since been backed by SoundCloud co-founder Alex Ljung, Wunderlist co-founder Christian Reber, and Factory co-founder Simon Schäfer. Tech Open Air also holds a series of other events in cities around the world, such as Tokyo, Cape Town, and Austin.
Funding: Not disclosed
Number of staff: 10-15
Helpling is a Rocket-backed tech company. The startup allows people to book cleaners and other handymen on demand for just over 10 an hour. In July 2015, Helpling acquired UK rival Hassle for a reported €32 million.
Funding: $73 million
Number of staff: 200
Founded in 2016, Hackerbay's clients already include Twitter, Facebook, Lyft, Audi, and Wirecard. Twitter, for example, asked Hackerbay's founders to work on several projects and one of them included digitising a foosball table in its Berlin office — something they were able to do in 24 hours. The company charges €15,000 on average for each application.
Number of staff: 11-50
PTScientists is a science and engineering startup developing spacecrafts and robots for the moon. The organisation, which boasts around 35 volunteer engineers, has teamed up with Audi and other corporates to develop a robot. At some point in the coming years, the PTScientists hopes that Audi Lunar Quattro robot will carry out scientific research on the lunar surface, and revisit the site of the final human landing on the Moon, Taurus-Littrow.
Funding: Not disclosed
Number of staff: 35
Enterprise software firm SAP is Europe's most valuable tech company, with a market cap of $115 billion. The tech giant, which provides business applications that help companies to manage their operations and customer relations, is headquartered in Walldorf but it also has a significant presence in Berlin.
Number of staff: 84,183
Another one that doesn't need too much of an introduction. Internet giant Google has a team of roughly 200 people in Berlin, with employees working on Google's policy, legal, and engineering efforts. Google is also in the process of opening one of its "Campus" startup hubs in Berlin.
Number of staff: 57,100 and less than 300 in Berlin
HelloFresh is a meal-kit delivery company backed by Berlin startup investor Rocket Internet. The company sends people boxes containing pre-chosen ingredients and recipes. The idea is that it's easier than shopping at the supermarket and healthier too. Plus you get to pick up new culinary skills and try dishes you might not normally go for.
Funding: $363.99 million
Number of staff: 2,500
Here is a mapping company that is owned by a consortium of German automotive companies (namely Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler). The business — which has lost several staff to Apple recently while beating Uber to hire others — sells or licenses its mapping content to other companies, including Garmin, BMW, Oracle, and Amazon.com.
Number of staff: Around 1,000 in Berlin
Blacklane's website and app allows people to pre-book a ride in more than 250 cities around the world. The company, co-founded by Jens Wohltorf alongside CTO Frank Steuer in 2011, is targetting itself at premium travellers who want an element of luxury on their journey. Users that book a business class chauffeur can expect their driver to turn up in a Mercedes E-Class, a BMW 5 Series, a Lincoln Town Car, or similar, while those that book first class can expect a Mercedes S-Class, a BMW 7 Series, an Audi A8, or similar.
Funding: $42.5 million
Number of staff: 220
Facebook is another Silicon Valley tech giant that has opened an office in Berlin. The company, which has over 29 million active monthly users in Germany, doesn't specify how many of its staff are in the Berlin office but it says it has more than 100 employees in Germany working on a range of areas including sales marketing, public policy, and communications. The social media giant's Germany business is led by Martin Ott, who is Facebook's managing director for central Europe.
Number of staff: More than 100 across Hamburg and Berlin. 17,048 employees globally as of December 31, 2016
DeepstreamHub is a cloud-platform that aims to help developers to build realtime apps. The company — founded by former investment banking technologists Wolfram Hempel and Yasser Fadl — says that its platform can be used to create applications that synchronise data within milliseconds of it becoming available.
Funding: €1.7 million
Number of staff: 13
15. Delivery Hero
Delivery Hero is a food delivery startup that competes with the likes of Deliveroo, Foodora, and UberEats. Last December, Delivery Hero expanded its geographic footprint through the acquisition of Food Panda, which added 20 countries to Delivery Hero’s portfolio.
Funding: $1.39 billion
Number of staff: 5,000
14. Rocket Internet
Founded by Oliver Samwer, Rocket Internet is a publicly listed company that creates online startups and expands them worldwide. The company has something of a reputation in Berlin for being the tech firm that paved the way for the larger ecosystem that exists there today. It also has a reputation for copying ideas spawned in Silicon Valley and quickly launching them in developing markets.
Number of staff: 270
This one needs no introduction. Apple is one of the largest tech companies in the world and it has a small team based in Berlin, including several engineers that are working on Apple Maps. The location of Apple's Berlin office has been a closely guarded secret but Business Insider discovered the office in the middle of the city in May.
Number of staff: 115,000 worldwide, less than 100 in Berlin
Skoove is a music startup based in a building next to Berlin's well-known Watergate nightclub. The company has developed an iPad application that aims to teach people how to play instruments like guitar and piano by showing them demoes and listening to them perform.
Funding: €1.2 million
Number of staff: 15
Instagram rival EyeEm has developed a free smartphone app that allows people to edit and share photos. It also allows companies to search for thousands of different objects and categories contained within images through the use of artificial intelligence and computer vision technology. There are over 20 million people using the app, according to the company.
Funding: $24 million
Number of staff: 73
Zalando is an online fashion platform available in 15 countries that sells shoes, clothing, and accessories from 1,500 brands. In addition to its online platform, Zalando also has a physical store in an old industrial building on the River Spree.
Number of staff: 12,000
Babbel has developed a language-learning platform that can be used on desktop and mobile. The Babbel platform has over a dozen languages listed on its platform, including Indonesian, Swedish, and Russian. It claims to set itself apart from apps like Duolingo and Memrise by using a more advanced didactic method.
Funding: $33.3 million
Number of staff: 450
Amazon has a development centre in Mitte where scientists work on Amazon's artificial intelligence and machine learning efforts — the team in Berlin contributed to the development of the technology that underpins Alexa. In terms of logistics, Amazon has a 65,000 square metre warehouse in the suburb of Brieselang (30km from downtown Berlin) that provides same-day delivery to customers in Berlin, Hamburg, and Leipzig.
Number of staff: 16,500 in Germany and over 1,000 in Berlin
7. Ada Health
Ada has developed a personal health app that provides feedback and advice when you're feeling unwell. The app, launched in 2016 after six years of research and development, allows the user to ask questions and describe their symptoms to an artificial intelligence "doctor" in the same way that London rival Babylon does.
Funding: €2.5 million research grant plus an undisclosed amount from private investors
Number of staff: 100
Juniqe is a Kreuzberg-based company that takes eclectic designs submitted by independent artists and prints them onto wall art, clothes, and accessories. It then sells the art and lifestyle products on its website.
Founded by Lea Lange, Sebastian Hasebrink and Marc Pohl, the online store has experienced rapid growth since first going live in 2014. Juniqe currently sells to 13 different countries across Europe, and is working on expanding to many more.
Funding: €20 million
6WunderKinders built the Wunderlist to-do list application that was acquired by Microsoft in June 2015 for between $100 and $200 million. Sadly, the US tech giant has built its own version of Wunderlist and now it plans to shut it down.
N26 is an app-only bank with 300,000 users across Europe. The company offers a debit card and account that can be controlled from an app. It also has nifty features such as the ability to borrow up to €25,000 straight from your smartphone.
Funding: $55 million
Number of staff: 200
Clue is a startup that has developed an app with the same name to help women track their periods. Women answer a series of questions each day and get feedback based on the data they input. The app has several million users across the iOS and Android smartphone platforms and a small number on the Apple Watch.
Funding: $30 million
Number of staff: 50
ResearchGate is a social media platform for scientists. The nine-year-old company, which allows scientists to give each other feedback and work together on projects, has raised over $87 million with help from the likes of Bill Gates and Goldman Sachs. It started off as a free-to-use platform for academics but it's become increasingly popular with scientists working in corporates, including tech firms like Google and Facebook. In total, ResearchGate boasts over 10 million users.
Funding: $87 million
Number of staff: 300
Music streaming service SoundCloud, which allows global superstars as well as amateur DJs to upload audio content to its platform, is one of Berlin's best known tech companies. It was founded in 2009 by Swedish sound designer Alexander Ljung and Swedish artist Eric Wahlforss.
While the company is burning through millions of euros as it struggles to find a reliable revenue stream, it is reportedly still on the acquisition radar of Silicon Valley giants like Google and Twitter.
The future for SoundCloud is anyone's guess at this stage but there's one thing we can be sure about: It has a cool product that's loved by millions of devoted users.
Funding: $298 million
Number of staff: 400
This article was first published on Business Insider.
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