WELCOME | CONTENT
The partners of Earlybird (from left to right): standing: Wolfgang Seibold, Roland Manger,
Hendrik Brandis, Christian Nagel, Matias Collan, Thom Rasche
seated: Rolf Mathies, Jason Whitmire
“Welcome to EARLYBIRD Magazine.
We would like to share our insights on technology segments relevant to our industry.
This issue looks at how innovative businesses are tapping into the power of social networks.”
03 _ State of the economy Social networks are changing the economy and business is catching on
04 _ Work in progress Socialbakers gives companies valuable insights into social-media usage
10 _ Done deal Scoreloop has ridden the social-gaming wave straight to Research in Motion
14 _ Panorama Social networks are changing consumer behavior in surprising ways
16 _ New kids on the block Crowdpark taps into our love of the wager, making every player a bookie
20 _ Vision Jeremy Rifkin says we’re on the brink of a new industrial revolution
22 _ Up close and personal Earlybird Partner Ciarán O’Leary
STATE OF THE ECONOMY | E D I TO R I A L
A new kind of socialism
and political advisor,
sat down with us to talk
about a new industrial
WHAT WOULD KARL MARX THINK? The 19th-century father of socialist theory was a fierce critic of capitalism. Now, what would
he say about the state of affairs in the early 21st century, a period dominated by global capitalism - and yet we’re surrounded by the word “social,”
as in social media, social networking or, as this issue is called, social economy. Is it a sign that the old top-down hierarchies in business, publishing
and retail are collapsing? It might not be the workers’ utopia Marx had in
mind, but it certainly is a sea change from where we were back in his day,
or even a decade ago.
In this issue, we take a look at how social media – Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. – is changing the way business works. While once there
were advertisers who told you what you wanted and how it would “change
your life,” now there is the “wisdom of the crowd.” Today, friends and
strangers can connect over social networks to discuss products and services, give a thumbs up or thumbs down, and sometimes, determine the success or failure of a company.
Businesses have realized the power of social media and are trying
to harness it. That’s where Socialbakers comes in. The Czech Republicbased company has designed online tools that allow companies to see how
their social media pages as well as those of their rivals are being used. The
company has caught the eye of a host of Fortune 500 companies, which in
turn got Earlybird’s attention (pp. 4-9).
Tens of millions of people have discovered social gaming – just
look at the popularity of Farmville on Facebook. Experts say the market,
which has been growing at a steady clip for several years, is set to explode. We sat down with the CEO of the mobile-gaming company Scoreloop, one of our portfolio companies, as well as Earlybird Managing Partner Roland Manger to talk about the future – how money will be made and
who will be on top when the dust settles (pp. 10-13).
It’s a short walk from gaming to gambling, and some social media
companies are capitalizing on the human love of betting. We profile one
young start-up, Crowdpark, which has put a new twist on wagering - the
odds are determined by the crowd. You won’t get rich placing your bets on
their new platform, Bet Tycoon (the money is virtual), but it looks like it
could become addictive, and pretty lucrative for the company (pp. 16-19).
And finally, we talk to a man who’s got the ear of business, governments, and just about everyone else interested in where our economy is headed. Jeremy Rifkin, thinker, economist and political advisor, sat
down with us to talk about a new industrial revolution. He sees a convergence between renewable energy and the Internet. That will bring about a
new collaborative distribution of power and open up new opportunities for
small and medium-sized companies (pp 20-21).
The future, indeed, is social, including how we buy, sell and play.
Were he here now, Marx would likely just be shaking his head in astonishment.
WORK IN PROGRESS
In the Czech Republic, four young guys
have combined their talents to bake up a
social media analytics platform that stands
out among competitors. Sometimes so many
cooks is problematic, but Socialbakers has
found the right mix and their client base is
expanding faster than a good soufflé.
BY BENJAMIN CUNNINGHAM
AND THOMAS CLARK
THE CZECH CITY OF PLZEN is almost 10,000 kilometers away from the Silicon Valley, where Facebook has its
headquarters. Better known for its beer than its burgeoning
tech scene, it seems an unlikely birthplace for one of today’s
most popular tools to analyze activities on the world’s biggest
social network. Yet this is exactly what happened. It was here
that the seed which became Socialbakers was first planted – at
a coffee shop in October 2008.
“We met at Café Fellini on the main square,” says Jan
Rezab as he thinks back on his first encounter with Lukas
Maixner and Martin Homolka. “I called them because a friend
had told me they were incredibly talented developers. I was always looking for people like that, so I drove over from Prague
to get to know them.” Rezab was then only 21, but he already
had a notorious reputation within the Czech Republic’s startup scene. “We had heard a lot about him, so we were curious,”
says Homolka. “He was regularly in the press and a TV show
featured him as one of our country’s most promising young
entrepreneurs,” adds Maixner.
Rezab founded his first start-up at the tender age of
14, needing his father’s signature for all the necessary paper-
CASE STUDY | S O C I A L BA K E R S
From left to right: Martin Homolka, Jan Rezab, Jiri Voves
and Lukas Maixner stand on the
banks of the Vitava river in central Prague, minutes away from
their new offices. The city’s famous Charles Bridge can be
seen in the background.
WORK IN PROGRESS
tools allow companies to diagnose how their social media pages are being used
across a variety of platforms. Some services are
free, others are available for
a fee. Paying customers include Coca-Cola, Nike, Puma, Samsung and Vodafone, to name just a few.
work. At 16, he dropped out of school to devote all his time to
his business, a gaming platform for smart phones. A few years
later, he started a second company devoted to local business
searches. Given this track record and his outgoing personality,
he quickly rose to fame. However, for Maixner and Homolka,
the renown alone was not enough to convince them to partner
with him. In fact, all the good PR made them skeptical. “Some
people warned us that he was a show-off,” says Maixner, but
they wanted to decide for themselves. It was not the best time
for Rezab, businesswise. His mobile phone venture had loaded him with about €150,000 in personal debt. While the company started off focusing on the technical side of smart phone
games, it moved into game development, and the debts started
piling up. “At the meeting, I was very upfront with Martin and
Lukas,” says Rezab.
He then suggested partnering on new projects he envisioned, rattling off a long list of ideas. Maixner and Homolka were both puzzled and fascinated, as Rezab energetically
announced that they should no longer “waste time building
websites for hundreds of euros and start doing some cool apps
for thousands of euros.” Given that he was talking to two very
young undergraduate students in a still rather low-wage country, this was quite an announcement.
Maixner remembers telling Homolka after the meeting, “This guy is crazy, but I really like him. We should give
it a shot and do a follow-up.” In retrospect, Rezab is grateful
that the two were willing to work with him. “They were taking a big chance on me. Everybody knew my last company had
failed,” he admits. The broad idea was that Rezab, based in
BORN: January 12, 1987
STATUS: Married, with one child
EDUCATION: Left school at age 16
CAR: BMW X3
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALIVE: Bill Gates
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALL TIME: Steve Jobs
CASE STUDY | SO C I A L BA K ER S
PLANS AND PRICES
Socialbakers offers two different subscription services to
its clients: “Engagement Analytics PRO” and “Engagement Builder PRO.”
Subscribers of the analytics tool can extract data on
PDFs that go far beyond the standard tool available to
administrators of a Facebook page. To name but one
function: it allows one to check the fan growth of any
page. Social media managers at Coca-Cola, for example,
can compare the growth rate of various pages run by
Pepsi, Red Bull or other competitors. The price plan for
the analytics tool ranges from $50 (for one account) to
$1,000 for 100 accounts.
The second service, the engagement builder, tracks
responses to promotions and allows more efficient management of a page. One feature enables a user to determine when a posting is published. Posts written on Friday
afternoon can be set to appear on Saturday at 3 pm or
Sunday at 6 pm. That means new content appears during
times many fans are on Facebook (evenings or weekends) and administrators don’t have to work overtime.
The use of this tool runs from $250 to $900, depending
on the size of the page (number of fans) and user rights.
Prague, would pitch concepts to customers and Maixner and
Homolka, based 90 kilometers to the west in Plzen, would implement them. Their first project was to optimize a website
for a smart-phone display. Soon after that, the trio tackled a
project from South Korean carmaker Kia, which was looking
for developers to create an online toolbox where people could
design their own vehicles and show them to friends. But Rezab
and his colleagues realized that a website was not the right medium for Kia’s project. Instead, they proposed launching it on
a new social media platform that - at the end of 2008 - had just
been introduced in the Czech Republic: Facebook. At the time,
few brands were prepared to use social networks to reach customers. On top of that, Homolka - the team’s lead programmer
- had to learn how to communicate with Facebook’s interface.
But Homolka was a fast learner. “For the first time in my life,
there was a team that delivered things as
fast as I thought they would,” Rezab says.
Besides the technical and business
skills that molded their still-loose partnership, the three shared a sense of humor and
a good gut feeling about what works in social media. When the trio observed that a
deeply unpopular Czech politician was regularly pelted with eggs at public appearances, they created a virtual egg-throwing
game on Facebook. It lets users lob eggs at
politicians on a special app and post special
messages on friends’ walls. The game was
a huge hit and shortly after the launch, more
than 500,000 Facebook users had installed
it. Viral buzzes such as this one grabbed the
attention of global agencies like OMD and
By mid-2009, the partnership between business-savvy Rezab and tech-talents Maixner and Homolka had tightened
and took up more and more of their time.
The Plzen duo decided to put their college
careers on hold and and take Jiri Voves, a
close friend and recent graduate, on board.
The foursome, who started to call their (still
informal) firm Candytech, began to spread
the word about the potential of social media.
“The first meetings with clients were just
about explaining what Facebook is,” says
Voves. As Maixner recalls, “When we started out, companies used to say to us, ‘It’s another thing for teenagers, like a dating site.’ We said, ‘No, it’s
a bit more than that.’” Eventually that legwork would pay off.
“When Facebook started getting bigger, they began calling us
back,” Voves says.
By the middle of 2010, they had developed some 150
Facebook applications - games, polls, quizzes and other applications that brands could use to attract or retain clients. In addition, they passed a milestone that would not only be their
first direct link from the Czech Republic to the Silicon Valley,
but would prove to be a watershed: They were officially appointed Preferred Developer Consultants by Facebook.
It came about after they met two high-ranking executives on Facebook’s European team - Blake Chandlee and
Mark Cowan - at a press conference in Prague and started
chatting with them. As Vice-President of Global Agencies &
BORN: August 23, 1982
EDUCATION: Computer Science (University of West Bohemia)
WATCH: HTC smart phone
CAR: Ford Focus
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALIVE: Bill Gates
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALL TIME: Steve Jobs
WORK IN PROGRESS
BORN: September 25, 1984
FAMILY STATUS: Single
EDUCATION: Business Administration (University of Economics, Prague)
CAR: Ford Fiesta
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALIVE: Mark Zuckerberg
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALL TIME: Tomáš Bat'a
Photos: Walter Novak
Regions, Chandlee was one of FaChange of direction
cebook’s most important contact
It wasn’t long before the team
points for developers. He invited
realized that their pet project, inithem to go through the screening
tially meant to promote Candytech,
process. “We had great case studies
might turn into a business model of
since we had done applications for
its own, and become even more lubig companies like the Czech subcrative than their agency business.
sidiaries of Vodafone and GE MonRezab’s vision was to create analytey. We submitted those and that
ical tools that would be offered via a
was that,” explains Homolka. The
website on a subscriber basis. With
new status put them a rather exclua base of news around Facebook dasive club; there are a dozen Faceta and free analytics available on the
book Preferred Developers in Eusite, they tried to whet users’ apperope and fewer than 90 around the
tites for more sophisticated products
globe. This prestigious social meavailable for a fee.
dia badge was great for PR and
Given that billions are now
marketing, but it helped them on
spent on advertising on Facebook
the development side as well. “We
and those numbers are growing, the
got information about new features
need for scalable platforms to anin advance, were invited to particialyze those efforts is increasing as
pate in Beta versions and got backwell. “Perhaps the vastness of soup support,” says Maixner.
cial networks’ repository of user inThe company has a new loft space in central
By fall 2010, things were
formation is itself a limiting factor,”
Prague (top). Jan Rezab is a frequent attendee of
looking very promising for the four
notes the consultant firm Deloitte
social media conferences, as his extenseive colfounders: Candytech had been regin its latest “Technology, Media &
lection of badges indicates (bottom).
istered as a limited company (with
Rezab holding 50 percent and the
(2011) and adds: “It remains a chalothers the rest) and was about to close its first financial year lenge to economically extract useful insights from the volwith revenues of more than €650,000 and an astonishing prof- umes of user data that social networks generate.” This is preit margin. The company was ready to enter the social media big cisely the void Socialbakers is trying to fill.
league. To prove to potential customers how good Candytech’s
There are several other analytical tools and services social networking apps were at attracting fans and buyers, the from Facebook’s own statistical tool (Facebook Insights) to
team began to collect analytic data generated by their own prod- Adobe Omniture. Some offer their services for free; others are
ucts. As they were doing this, they realized that a lot of the data backed by global companies with good access to potential cusaccumulated on Facebook was accessible to partners and devel- tomers. Yet by combining social media and software as a servopers, starting from the number of users per country to the de- ice (SaaS) to deliver scale, Socialbakers manages to compete
velopment of fans on particular sites. The issue was that there with and, often, stands out among big names such as Radian 6,
were not enough tools available that allowed users to immedi- Alterian, Brandwatch, Comscore, Wildfire or Buddy Media, to
ately see or quickly access the required data in a user-friendly name but a few.
way. As Candytech’s crew grew ever-more sophisticated on that
Within the first 18 months of its service, Socialbaklevel, they launched a website “in order to promote our agency ers’ website attracted 300,000 unique users. For its paid servbusiness.”
ice, the Czech start-up lured over 450 companies worldwide,
First, they wanted to call the site Facebakers, but their among them 30 Fortune 500 companies including Coca-Cocontacts at Facebook “made it clear to us that they would not la, Nike, Puma, Samsung, Tesco, Vodafone, Unilever, Kraft,
appreciate a name that resembles theirs too much,” says Rezab Peugeot, and Hyundai. “Our client core right now is very, very
with a smile. As a consequence, they changed the name to So- strong,” Rezab says. “They are evangelizing it all the way
cialbakers. (That later turned out to be a good move since they around.” At the end of 2011, Socialbakers was adding between
started offering analytical tools for Twitter, LinkedIn, Goog- 10 and 20 customers per day.
le+ and other social media in addition to Facebook.)
What makes their tools so attractive? Kajsa Dahlberg
CASE STUDY | S O C I A LBA K E R S
from McDonald’s in Sweden likes the ease of use when it
comes to benchmarking her site with those in other countries.
“This helps us to see what other countries are doing successfully,” she explains. Patrick Hoffstetter, chief digital officer for
French automaker Renault, appreciates its ubiquity. “Communication success at Renault is measured according to engagement rate, and by using analytics we can measure not just
overall engagement, but drill down into engagement on everything we publish across Facebook, Twitter and more.” Ultimately, the secret of Socialbakers’ success seems to be its clever combination of innovative technology and its tools, which
are designed to be easy to use (for a description and prices, see
sidebar on p. 7).
With fresh money from Earlybird Venture Capital,
which invested $2 million on a valuation of $7.5 million in
September 2011, Socialbakers now has the financial foundation to gain traction. Looking at the growth rates of social-media marketing (expected to reach at least 10 percent of total online marketing, worth €70 billion in 2013), the interest in the
business is obvious. Marketing and campaign measurements
are predicted to generate up to 2 percent of this amount. With a
market share of only 0.02 percent, Socialbakers would still be
able to generate €350 million in revenues.
For the Czech founders, all of whom were born during their country’s communist era when entrepreneurship was
limited to the other side of the Iron Curtain, a lot has changed
since that first coffee shop meeting. The development team in
Plzen has grown to more than 30 people. The “Prague bureau,”
once just Rezab’s desk, has moved into a modern loft in the
center of Prague and houses the sales and business development teams. For dealings with big international clients, a sales
rep was hired in London. And now the team has an even more
direct link to Silicon Valley, since the new chairman and the
vice-president of marketing are based there. Socialbakers and
its investors plan to set up a US headquarters, too. “I might
soon move there as CEO,” says Rezab. He seems to have found
his mission after “worrying quite often about losing focus” in
his early days as a serial entrepreneur.
Regarding his future goals, Rezab leaves no doubt that
he wants Socialbakers to be to the social economy what the
rating and audience measure tools of Nielsen or Gfk were in
the television era: an indispensable partner for advertisers and
content producers. “In two years, it will all be about automated
insights,” he predicts. “Our goal is to oust the big analytics guy
and give marketers something they can really taste.”
It’s a fitting aspiration for a company whose name conjures up images of cookies and cakes.
us and it’s
going to do
What drew you to Socialbakers?
Jason Whitmire: Brands are investing a lot into advertising on Facebook.
They want to monitor return on investment and they need solutions for
that. We looked at a lot of players in
terms of analytics. Almost no company had the traction and scalable model
Socialbakers has. When we invested,
they already had a dozen Fortune 500
companies on their client list and have
been building out their expansion as a
Does talk about a social media market
bubble worry you?
Whitmire: It’s all relative. More people are spending more time online;
that’s not going to change. There is
froth and frenzy out there, but most
of Socialbaker’s competition is over
on the listening side. Socialbakers is
about turning it around and allowing
companies to measure their Facebook
campaigns against their competitors.
So you see a lot of potential growth in
social network marketing?
Whitmire: Only about 10 percent of
brands have really figured it out. Most
of them are just waking up. It’s a huge
blue ocean for us and it’s going to do
nothing but grow. Everybody now recognizes you need to invest in scalable analytics. Up until recently, they
would sprinkle a team of engineers on
the problem. Now, SaaS in social media is where the market is.
Will Socialbakers expand to the US?
Whitmire: They already have customers there and have launched a
headquarters in San Francisco. We
are also looking at other markets. Our
back end will always be in the Czech
Republic, where the cost advantage is
better than in the Bay Area.
BORN: February 8, 1985
EDUCATION: Economics - incomplete (University of West Bohemia)
WATCH: HTC smart phone
CAR: Citroën Xsara
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALIVE: Mark Zuckerberg
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALL TIME: Richard Branson
This year, BlackBerry maker
Research in Motion snapped up
Scoreloop, a gaming company in
Earlybird’s portfolio. Scoreloop’s
Marc Gumpinger (left) and EB
Managing Partner Roland Manger (center) talk about where social
gaming goes from here.
of Social Gaming
Games such as Farmville or Sims Social, played over social networks, have
not only captured the imagination of millions of users, but also the interest
of investors and the entertainment industry. Giants like EA and Disney have
acquired the social gaming companies Playfish and Playdom, while games
maker Zynga raised a billion going public. But players are fickle,
and today’s hot game can be tomorrow’s has-been. Earlybird Magazine
contributor Mary Lisbeth D’Amico spoke with Marc Gumpinger,
CEO of mobile gaming company Scoreloop, and Earlybird Managing
Partner Roland Manger about their take on the future of social gaming.
DISCUSSION | S O C I A L G A M I N G
BY MARY LISBETH D’AMICO
Mary Lisbeth: First of all, how do you define social gaming?
What makes it different than any other kind of game?
Marc: I see social gaming simply as a game you play with
or against someone else. Games have historically always
been social activities, played with others. Take a game like table tennis. The only time you play alone is when you practice. With the first computer games, however, people played
alone because of technical deficiencies. Games such as PacMan were not designed for real-time interaction because they
were designed in an era where those limitations still applied.
Now, with the advent of real-time communications via the Internet and mobile networks, gaming has been brought back to
its historically social roots.
Roland: Of course, there is one major difference. Doing away
with the limits of space and time constraints is something very
Mary Lisbeth: Social games like Farmville - which involves
activities such as planting, growing and harvesting crops and
raising livestock - or Sims Social - in which users create online characters that interact with their Facebook friends -
Like Hollywood, social gaming is a hitdriven business, with a few blockbusters and a lot of flops. The big winners are
those who both develop and distribute,
but the risks are substantial. Earlybird’s
former portfolio company, Scoreloop,
took the chance and came out on top.
seem to be less about testing one’s skill
operating systems. You see gaming comand more about interacting with others.
panies going back and forth between naRoland: These particular games are about
tive applications designed for a specific
showing who you are in the way you use
device such as the iPhone, Android, Winyour own sense of aesthetics and virtudows-based phones or the BlackBerry,
al self. But there are other social games
and web standard HTML5 games that, at
where competition is more important.
least in theory, should work on all those
Mary Lisbeth: Disney recently sold the
devices. It’s a very fragmented market.
film company Miramax and bought the
Mary Lisbeth: According to a chart I
social-gaming company Playdom for
saw, social gaming is monetized in three
$800 million. Is entertainment going in a
ways: the sale of virtual goods, banwhole new direction?
ner advertising and lead generation. The
Marc: Disney has discovered social gamchart predicted that while the first two
ing as a relevant form of mass entertainwould remain constant, the latter would
“We are witnessing
ment and has understood that interacprovide growth. Do you agree?
tive television doesn’t work. People used
Marc: Lead generation is very promising
a huge shift
to think the future would be interactive
because the power to invite users to downtowards mobile.”
TV or movies, but it turns out that peoload another app is very high as long as
ple watching these “lean back” media
you do it in the right way. For example, a
don’t want to interact with a remote control and decide how player of Game A gets currency to use in Game A if he downthe movie ends. Social games are part of what’s called a “lean loads Game B. The developer of Game B has to pay money
forward” medium, where you are at your computer, writing to the developer of Game A for this lead generation, but the
emails, looking at websites and interacting.
player might actually turn out to be interested in Game B. VirRoland: Disney has understood Schumpeter’s creative de- tual goods and currencies will also remain interesting monstruction. The company sees that the movie business is declin- ey generators in the realm of social gaming, but they are more
ing and is therefore embracing something completely new, complex because you have to design each game specifically to
despite it threatening its core business. They are taking their make use of them. You have to carefully craft the game to keep
traditional assets such as brands, characters and good storylines on motivating people to keep buying more.
and trying to transform them into games and, thus, put them in Mary Lisbeth: So I guess the virtual goods market is hit or
a new social context.
miss depending on the success of a game.
Mary Lisbeth: What new directions will
It’s like the Hollywood film model. Zynsocial gaming take?
ga’s Farmville and Mafia Wars were popMarc: We are witnessing a huge shift toular but its Western-themed Frontierville
wards mobile and we have only seen the
tip of the iceberg in this respect. A game
Marc: Exactly. It’s a hit-driven business.
like Farmville, where you have to harYou can fail if one title you invest a lot of
vest your crops here and there, is perfectly
money in fails. However, the good thing
suited for mobile. You are interacting freabout this model is that social games can
quently, but in short sessions. It’s no longbe updated several times a day, whereas
er a 20-hour session in front of a console.
in the film business, once a movie is out
People used to take their laptops to the bar
in theaters you can’t change it anymore.
to be on time for harvesting. Now they
With a game, you can measure and adapt.
can do that on mobile devices.
Marybeth: In the movie or traditional
“I think you have
Marybeth : What’s prevented mobile
board-game business, very few hits turn
to be both a producer
gaming from becoming a mass phenomeinto evergreens. Quite often, the majorand a distributor
na thus far?
ity of the revenues are made in the first
to be really
Marc: On PCs there is one web browsweeks or even days of the release - and
er, one standard, while on mobile devicthen it nosedives. What is the revenue cyROLAND MANGER
es you still have to struggle with a lot of
cle in social games like in comparison?
THE SOCIAL GAMING MARKET
While the social-gaming market has
been growing steadily for a while, it is
predicted to skyrocket over the next
three years. You can expect bumper
crops in Farmville. Marketers are realizing the opportunities to promote their
brands through social games.
Photo: Martin Hangen
$ 0.2 billion
$ 0.7 billion
$ 1.3 billion
$ 3.1 billion
DISCUSSION | S O C I A L G A M I N G
Marc: The social component helps to extend the shelf life of
an asset: you can tweak it and add new features. It’s also harder for players to drop a social game once they have motivated
each other to play it, because it conveys an aspect of camaraderie and competition. In the old days, when you developed a
game, it was on the shelf in a supermarket, its shelf life was
fairly short and soon you had to invent something new to bring
in new revenue. Now you are close to the customer all the time
via the social network, so you have a better chance of picking
the right themes by understanding what’s going on with players. This also helps when you want to introduce a new game.
Mary Lisbeth: Who will be the winners in the social gaming
Roland: I think you have to be both a producer and a distributor to be really successful. An example of that from our portfolio is Peak Games based in Istanbul. They have developed
a very effective casual game for Turkey and the Middle East,
have gotten lots of users, and now have interest from US developers who want to sell their product in emerging markets as
well. So they are turning into both a publisher and a producer.
With better content, they get more reach and more users. It’s a
Marc: Just like in Hollywood, the successful developers are
the big winners, though there is always a lot of risk and reward. The regular winners are those who provide the platform,
they are automatically part of the hits. They will be part of the
failures too, but by becoming a de facto standard, they automatically participate in the success of the business.
Marybeth: Users can be fickle. Does that affect Scoreloop’s
Marc: It actually supports our business model, because game
developers need to focus on creativity and on measuring how
users behave and react to that behavior. We allow them to focus on adapting the game.
Company behind BlackBerry acquires Scoreloop
It was a surprise exit for Earlybird, triggered by a call from Canada. Keen to beef up
its popular BlackBerry devices with mobile gaming opportunities, Research in Motion
(RIM) decided to put an offer for Earlybird’s portfolio company Scoreloop on the table
after having studied its software for developing social games on mobile platforms. In August 2011, RIM snapped up the Munich-based company, securing Earlybird a multiple of
more than five times its investment after less than two years. The total amount of the acquisition prize remains confidential.
Scoreloop CEO Marc Gumpinger says the deal is a content play for the BlackBerry maker. “RIM is good at devices and operating systems, but they need compelling content and
must attract developers to create that content,” said Gumpinger by way of explaining the
attraction of his startup for the Canadian company. Gumpinger and co-founders Dominik
Westner and Christian van der Leeden will remain in Munich and continue to head Scoreloop’s team, which has grown to 50 employees.
Scoreloop’s development platforms will continue to work on Apple’s iPhone, Google’s
Android and other operating systems for smart phones, yet certain features will only be
available on BlackBerry in the future.
While Gumpinger steadfastly refrains from bragging about the millions he made from the
sale of his stake in Scoreloop, Earlybird Magazine could not help noticing one obvious
change on the “material front” for this young German entrepreneur. It’s not his clothes,
nor his office. It’s his ride. When we first met him in 2009, he told us he didn’t own a car
(see EB Magazine on Mobile Devices, page 18). This time around, he was at the wheel of
a brand-new Lamborghini.
$ 15 billion
Getting your fair share
Whether it’s a desire for a greener lifestyle or greater
social interaction, more and more people are looking to share
resources. Peer-to-peer technology and a growing number of
Web-based platforms are making it possible.
BY MARY LISBETH D’AMICO
WHEN PEG POWELL, 76, heard about online room sharing
service Airbnb last May in a New York Times article, she decided to give it a try. The Mountain View, California resident’s
roommate had moved out and she needed help to keep up with
the mortgage payments on her 1940’s-era bungalow. Within a
few days of posting her offer – a clean double room for $75 a
day near Google headquarters and the Apple shuttle – she had
numerous bidders. “I soon realized I could earn more that way
than with a single roommate,” says Powell, a former software
engineer. “But, also, I met such wonderful people.” Loving the
experience, she has since begun offering her car to share by
Internet-based services that allow people to barter, borrow and share are cropping up all over the Web. The sites usually ask users to register, then enable them to access other bidders via their computer, smartphone or other mobile device.
While bartering is nothing new, digital platforms are making
such transactions possible on a larger and more efficient scale,
and in more and more regions. For people who need to be mobile but don’t want the hassle of owning a car, there’s carsharing or ridesharing. Accommodation is another popular niche
with platforms devoted to renting rooms or apartments, or
finding roommates. Really, the sky’s the limit, with websites
catering bikesharing (Oybike), used children’s clothes (ThredUP), restaurant recommendations (Lime + Tonic, Pocketguide), leased solar panels (Solarpower), or that borrowed cup
of sugar from next door (Neighborrow). Australian author and consultant Rachel Botsman gave the movement a
name with her 2010 book “What’s Mine is Yours:
The Rise of Collaborative Consumption,” which detailed
how collaboration and sharing via peer-to-peer technologies
are changing our economy and society. When Botsman started her research, she identified about 150 such collaborative efforts; by the time the book was finished she had tallied more
Experts predict that the sharing ethic will continue to
spread. In a recent online study of 547 participants by the research consultancy Latitude and the non-profit online magazine Shareable, 75 percent of respondents said that their own
sharing of “physical objects and spaces” would increase over
the next five years. Neal Gorenflo, editor of Shareable, says
that today’s hard economic realities have something to do with
the shift. “There is a limit to growth and productivity, leading
to a focus on new distribution forms,” he says.
Pundits also see a shift in values and behavior behind the changes, partly created by technology. “The Internet
has changed the way we communicate with one another, the
way we consume things. We don’t shop or buy, we share with
friends,” says Antonin Léonard, a Web communications consultant and editor of consocollaborative.com, a French blog on
collaborative consumption. People are using online interaction
The Internet has
consumer behavior. Today, people
look for the best
deals online, find
out what others
think of this product or that store,
or share and barter
on the Web instead
of spending that
In 1980, Usenet, the first
online discussion forum,
is started by students
of Duke University. User
interaction is categorized
in newsgroups centered
around specific scientific
In 1994, Jeff Bezos
founds the online bookstore Amazon. He also
patents an electronic
which becomes one of
the key factors of the
In 1995, AuctionWeb
goes online, later changing its name to eBay. The
platform introduces a
seller rating system that
quickly helps the marketplace gain credibility and
In 2004, software guru
Tim O’Reilly holds a conference on the growth of
user participation on the
Internet. In his keynote
speech, he introduces
the now-ubiquitous term
Illustration: Myriam Heinzel
Buying and selling in the social media age
OVERVIEW | T H E E R A O F S O C I A L E C O N O M I C S
For example, on the smallservices platform Zaarly.com,
currently available in 100 US cities, you can
look for works of art, find someone to clean out your garage,
or offer massages. People not only want to buy and sell, they
want to engage with interesting people along the way.
The desire to be green and even change the world is another motivating factor. In the Latitude study, more than three
in five users cited “better for the environment” as one benefit of sharing. The French platform Laruchequiditoui.fr (“the
hive that says yes”) connects buyers directly to food producers. Natalie Ortiz, 24, a freelance designer and strategic consultant who helped design the company site, says her interest
is on “services that can be more human because they are based
on peer-to-peer relationships and exchanges that can form and
While idealism certainly has a role to play, there is also money to be made. San Francisco-based accommodation
site Airbnb is one of the most high-profile successes. Founded
in August 2008, by mid-2011, the company had over 100,000
listings of rooms and homes in 16,000 cities and 186 countries.
Though it doesn’t publish revenues, Airbnb takes a percentage
from both the buyer and seller on each transaction conduct-
In 2006, TIME magazine
elects “You” as its “Person Of The Year.” Referencing the explosion of
self-expression on the
Web, the cover shows
the frame of a YouTube
In 2008, US Senator
Barack Obama wins the
election, setting a fundraising record of over
$750 million by making
intense use of social
ed on its site, and reports that it has earned fees on more than
2 million overnight stays.
Another winner is carsharing network Zipcar, which
serves around 650,000 members in 14 cities in the US, Canada and the UK with its own fleet. The company recently posted
its first quarterly profit and has entered into a partnership with
Ford, though it faces increasing competition from peer-to-peer
car networks such as Relay Rides and Getaround, where people share their own cars with strangers.
Investors are becoming keenly interested in this area,
and there is now a US VC fund focused solely on collaborative
startups. Although some companies have yet to show how they
will make a profit with such platforms, that won’t necessarily
scare VCs away. Remember, it took some time before it became
clear how Facebook and Twitter would make money. “Most
funded companies are focused on growth rather than profit because they want to capture the markets first, then drive towards
profitability,” says Shareable editor Gorenflo. Other collaborative efforts will likely remain non-profit organizations.
Despite the success stories, challenges remain for this
new breed of companies. Many operate in grey areas, free
from regulation, but state or national authorities could change
all that. A New York state law passed in May cracked down on
people renting residential rooms for less than 30 days. Now
Zipcar must pay a car rental tax on its fleet. Sometimes regulation is beneficial, though. In California, legislators recently
approved crowdfunding, in which companies raise money online from individual investors.
Trust is another issue. While, ideally, open ratings and
reviews on Web platforms encourage good behavior among
members, things can go wrong. In July 2011, Airbnb made
headlines when drug-users trashed the apartment of one of the
site’s hosts. At first slow to respond, the company has since introduced a $50,000 insurance policy against theft or vandalism.
As with any emerging market, there will be a few winners as companies go under or get acquired by more successful
players. But however it shakes out, collaborative consumption
– which Time magazine recently declared one of 10 ideas that
will change the world – looks like it’s here to stay.
In 2009, the founding
of Foursquare marks a
breakthrough in locationbased services. Users
get discounts by checking into local venues and
make themselves visible
in their local network.
In 2010, Facebook
introduces the “Like”
button, enabling users to
express their appreciation of a status update,
or declare themselves
“fans” of a company or
brand profile site.
In 2011, Groupon,
a platform offering
daily group discounts,
goes public. Its valuation
is $12.7 billion on the
day of its IPO, just three
years after its founding.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
The odds on their side
Will someone win big on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire tonight? Will the Duchess
of Cambridge have a baby in 2012? If questions like these make you itch to bet your
bottom dollar, social gaming company Crowdpark has got you where it wants you.
B Y JA N E PAU L I C K
“REMEMBER HOW WHEN you were
the technology is similar to that used at
five years old you’d say to your friend,
the stock market to determine the price
hey, let’s see who can run to that tree over
of shares. “Alex and Sasha already had
there fastest?” asks Crowdpark’s Chief
a data analysis outsourcing company
Operating Officer Christoph Jenke. To
called Analyx and had developed meththe 37-year-old, such childhood memods for sales forecasting rooted in a preories underpin their startup’s core idea.
diction market algorithm,” says the third
“We realized that placing bets is very huco-founder and current CEO of Crowdman so what we did was find a digital expark, Martin Frindt. “They’d realized that
pression for this instinct and turn it into
this had gaming potential and were looka game.”
ing for a young, hungry guy to help them
In Crowdpark’s debut product, Bet
Their timing couldn’t have been
with a prototype. We were introduced by
Tycoon, the players are the bookies.
better. Set up in 2009, Crowdpark is in
my tutor when we were all students at the
the vanguard of Berlin’s nascent start-up scene, a hub that’s Dresden University of Technology.”
so hot right now observers are talking of the new Silicon ValA passionate gamer, Frindt was no stranger to entreley. And while the company might still be in its infancy, its de- preneurship either, having already flirted with start-ups durbut product, Bet Tycoon, went live as the first-ever social bet- ing a stint with the now defunct mobile virtual network operating game on Facebook in the fall of 2011. It has attracted over tor Youni. He liked their ideas and wasted no time chasing up
2 million registered users in less than 18 months, with an av- a games designer and concept developer. Enter the fourth coerage of 350,000 active users per month at the end of 2012. founder, Ingo Hinterding. The two met at a beach bar in BerIt’s as simple as it is addictive, allowing players to challenge lin and Frindt found out Hinterding was working on a forecastfriends by betting in real time on topics thought up by an in- ing platform project similar to his. “I told him that we could
house editorial team. The topics are related to real events, like either spend the next hour having a civil conversation and then
soccer, world affairs, entertainment and even user-generated part as rivals, or we could start spending a lot of time in each
private topics such as “Will Anna go home with Sven after the other’s company.” By the next day, they had decided to go inparty tonight?” If your bet wins, you could find your account to business together and three months later, Crowdpark came
newly flush - even though the credits you get are only virtual.
Creating a brand
Sasha Stütze stepped up to the plate as business angel,
providing start-up capital of €200,000, and along with Alex
and Sasha, left the day-to-day running of the fledgling com-
BORN: November 14, 1982
FAMILY STATUS: Single (in a relationship)
EDUCATION: Business Administration/Engineering (Technical University, Dresden)
CAR: TGB Scooter
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALIVE: Reinhold Würth
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALL TIME: none
Photo: Christian Schmid
Putting the game in game-changing
The game’s foundation is a technology called “dynamic betting.” Developed by the company’s co-founders Sascha
Stürze and Alex Ivanov and now awaiting a patent in the US,
CASE STUDY | C ROW D PA R K
The desire to bet on things is a very human trait, realized Crowdpark’s Martin Frindt (left), Ingo Hinterding (center) and Christoph
Jenke (right). They came up with a way to turn it into a social game.
BORN: July 12, 1974
FAMILY STATUS: Married, one child
EDUCATION: Information Design & Architecture (Aachen)
CAR: I drive a crappy old Opel Astra
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALIVE: none
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALL TIME: Steve Jobs
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
pany to Frindt and Hinterding. At this point, the concept was
still evolving, with the team mulling the possibility of promoting their product as a market research tool. “When we started
out, we wanted to have a product based on social forecasting
that was ‘gameified’ but not necessarily a game,” says Frindt.
They eventually opted to concentrate their energies on creating a consumer brand, positioning the company between the
three flourishing markets of social gaming, mobile gaming
and online betting. “We wanted to create a destination site on
the Web where people could bet on future outcomes and we
realized that we could easily use the Facebook ecosystem because people were already communicating there,” says Jenke,
who joined the team in 2010 after the company had secured
€700,000 from the Investionsbank Berlin and a further €1
million from Earlybird in additional funding. “So we offered
them a way of playing there, too.”
The trio was confident about their decision to enter the
realm of social gaming. “The gaming industry has become
bigger than the movie industry and it’s no longer just a nerd
niche,” says Frindt emphatically. “The other day I was watching TV and in a 10-minute block of commercials, five minutes
were devoted to gaming-related products. A game that sells
ON THE HEELS OF FARMVILLE?
Bet Tycoon has a way to go before
it catches up to the Facebook game
Farmville, which has over 80 million active users. But given the rapid growth of
Bet Tycoon’s user base, and predictions
about social gaming’s future, it might
soon give Farmville a run for its money.
CROWDPARK’S BUSINESS MODEL
Like with other social games, Bet Tycoon players wager not
with cash, but with virtual goods – in this case, Facebook
credits: 10 can be bought for $1. Facebook keeps 30 percent
of the revenue, while developers get 70 percent from the sale
of the credits, which cannot be converted into real money. The
virtual currency system allows Crowdpark to sidestep Germany’s and many other European countries’ bans on online
gambling. Bet Tycoon players start out with a reserve of free
currency, which is usually exhausted after about 30 minutes
of betting. Cash-poor players can either buy credits or wait
until the game eventually adds currency to their accounts. “In
the short run, Crowdpark’s revenue streams will be limited to
advertising and maybe service charges,” says Achim Himmelreich, e-commerce expert at Mücke, Sturm & Company
Management Consultants, adding that marketing will be key.
Analysts have found that, on average, a fifth of all users will
pay at least once over the course of a lifetime of social gaming
and between 1 and 3 percent will pay in any given month.
While that monthy expenditure might only be a few dollars, a
2011 World Bank study found that the global market for social
gaming was worth $3 billion. The number of active users per
month roughly equals annual revenue. Therefore, a game with
1 million active users per year might earn $1 million.
well shifts more copies than a bestselling music album these
days.” Part of what makes Bet Tycoon so addictive to users
is the fact that the odds are fixed by the crowd. The value of
a stake changes continuously depending on what other players are doing. In other words, the users are the bookmakers.
“The second someone enters their bet, the odds change,” explains Frindt. “And our underlying prediction market means
that with each bet placed, the prices for the stocks behind the
bet will also change. You have to look at the platform every
day to check what the current value of your bet is, and you can
either increase or decrease your stake.” Incorporating real life
events gives the game an added frisson lacking in other social
games and also lets Bet Tycoon tap into the rapidly growing
popularity of “second screen” entertainment, whereby con-
CASE STUDY | C ROW D PA R K
2 Mio user
sumers watch TV and simultaneously share information on
what they’re viewing with friends on Facebook and Twitter,
chatting, rating shows, or voting in polls. Jenke remembers a
recent incident when popular German TV personality Stefan
Raab fell off his bike and suffered a concussion on his primetime TV. “You could immediately see the curve of the people betting on him winning go down,” points out Jenke. “It’s
just like on the stock market when prices fall. In comparison, a
bookmaker only reacts to events much later.” Frindt adds with
a smile: “We have the fastest bookies in the world.”
A player can cash out his or her stake at any point in the
game - in Bet Tycoon’s virtual currency, of course, so the money stays with the house, as it were. “The game has a very high
sticky factor,” says Jenke, meaning that users keep logging on
to see how their stake is doing. And obviously, the more players return, the easier it is to monetize them. “Right now, our
goal is to expand the usership of our products within Facebook,” says Hinterding. He adds that, in the long run, Crowdpark aims to develop “new and innovative betting and casino
games, creating and defining a market worth billions.”
Increase usership and the money will follow
While Crowdpark has already generated some revenues by leveraging its technology, its strategy on the gaming
front is currently less on money than on building up reach. The
massively popular Facebook game Farmville boasts over 80
million monthly active users and Crowdpark sees no reason
why it couldn’t one day match this. The four founders aren’t
yet done shaking the dice. With another €4 million from Earlybird and Target Partners in place, Crowdpark now consists
of a team of 30 in Berlin and half a dozen freelance programmers based in Poland. An editorial team is constantly looking
for ongoing topics to keep the forecasting tasks at Bet Tycoon
fresh and attractive. At the same time, there are development
teams trying to create what Jenke calls “verticals,” i.e. slicing pieces out of Bet Tycoon to create new games with specific content such as sports in order to target users more efficiently. “We have a whole product line set up, with new games
that will launch before the end of 2011,” says Frindt. Crucially,
that involves as many platforms as possible, including mobile
devices and tablets. It is a challenging leap.“A mobile product has to be much simpler than what’s possible on the Web
and Facebook. It’s very hard to transfer one product to another
platform. It’s a different product.”
“We believe that mobile represents a new social gaming frontier,” said David Ko, head of the mobile division at the
world’s leading social game developer Zynga.
Care to place a bet that Crowdpark is among the first
to cross it?
2 Mio registrations
We liked the
and the fact
What spoke to you most about Crowdpark and their idea of social betting?
Christian Nagel: We thought and still
think that their concept could be the
next generation of Facebook gaming.
We felt that users would get bored of
the existing games on Facebook. The
difference with Crowdpark is that it’s
dynamic and based on live events. We
liked the social aspect and the fact that
users can create their own bets based
on everyday events.
The company monetizes with the virtual goods market – what made you
sure this is a safe investment?
Nagel: When we invested in June
2010, the Facebook gaming market
already had momentum. But when
we looked at the games played there,
they were similar to the first generation of Nintendo games - simple, but
very successful. We felt that Crowdpark had a chance of creating the next
Will users really get addicted even
though they can never cash out?
Nagel: It’s like any game where users are dealing with virtual goods.
We believe they’re the future. People
are used to playing the first level of a
game for free, but if they want to level up, they pay for virtual goods. This
is where the gaming industry is going
– you pay over a longer period of time
in micro payments.
Did it bother you that the founding
team didn’t have much business experience?
Nagel: We were convinced by their
idea and felt that we could supply the
Are you are a gamer yourself?
Nagel: Not hardcore, but I like to try
BORN: November 21, 1974
FAMILY STATUS: Married, one child
EDUCATION: M.A. American Studies/Journalism (Leipzig), LL.D. (Hamburg)
CAR: VW Polo
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALIVE: Jeff Bezos
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALL TIME: Gerd Bucerius
Energizing a new economy
What does it mean to talk of the dawn of the social economy? A new book by
American economist and social critic Jeremy Rifkin, “The Third Industrial
Revolution,” sees a combination of renewable energy and Internet communication
platforms driving an economic revolution.
BY KARSTEN LEMM AND THOMAS CLARK
In the second industrial revolution, telegraph and telephone –
later radio and television – became the communication tools
to manage and market an oil, auto and suburban lifestyle, as
well as a mass consumer culture.
Why do you see that coming to an end?
Rifkin: The second industrial revolution is clearly sun-setting – there’s no doubt about it. Energy prices are going up,
technologies like the internal combustion engine are exhausted, the infrastructures made out of carbon deposits are all on
Jeremy Rifkin is an American economist, author, public speaker and
political advisor. He is the founder and president of the Foundation
on Economic Trends, which examines the economic, environmental
and social impact of new technologies. Rifkin is an advisor to the European Union as well as several EU heads of state, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In that capacity, he is the principal architect of the EU’s long-term economic sustainability plan. Earlybird
Magazine met him in his office in Bethesda, Maryland.
Photo: Karsten Lemm
You see the world at the beginning of a “third industrial revolution” – what’s so new and different to warrant this claim?
Jeremy Rifkin: If you look at the great economic revolutions
throughout history, they have occurred when energy revolutions converged with communication revolutions. New energy
regimes make more complex social arrangements possible, but
they require means of communication agile enough to keep up
with them and manage them. In the first industrial revolution,
print technology became really cheap because of steam power.
INTERVIEW | J ER E MY R I F K I N
life-support. The third industrial revolution brings a conver- Etsy. They’re small, they don’t have a lot of overhead costs. At
gence of the Internet and renewable energy, where collabora- Etsy, where thousands of craftspeople around the world meet
tive communication will merge with new ways to manage and up with millions of potential customers, they don’t even have
any marketing or transaction cost except for shipping the final
product and selling it. How will big furniture companies like
Are you talking about a smart grid meeting green energy?
Rifkin: It’s more than that. The first and second industrial rev- Ikea compete? They’re going to have a hard time.
olutions scaled vertically, because they were based on elite But can we really expect everybody to become creative and
sources. Coal, oil, gas, and uranium are only found in a few participate in new ways?
places, and require huge investments. In the past, everything Rifkin: Some will be entrepreneurs, some will work in small
in the economic system, whether capitalist or socialist, had to companies. Remember, the heart of the developed economies
scale from top down. In contrast, the economy of the future is still the small and medium-sized enterprises. The problem in
the past was that they were dependent on large,
will scale laterally. That changes everything.
global companies that scale vertically. Now,
In your new book, you suggest that Europe is
it’s going to be the other way around.
the region best equipped to cope with the chalAre you saying the age of the global giants is
lenges of the “third industrial revolution.”
coming to an end?
Rifkin: If there’s any place in the world where
property. For many Rifkin: Yes. You’re still going to see global
new ideas about the future of the human race
companies but even their operations will be
are currently operable, it’s Europe. There is
of them, access is
more distributed. They will be in continental
also a greater level of comfort with the conthe new right.
markets, regionally, and they’ll be almost like
cept of distributed, collaborative, lateral power
executive education centers. But a lot of the
in Europe than in the United States, certainly
among big companies, but even the ones in Silicon Valley are power and control is going to be put in the companies and the
more happy with the centralized model. In green tech, Europe networks. For sure.
is currently the world’s idea factory. Will it succeed? I don’t Where are we in this transition?
Rifkin: Young people are redefining property. For many of
know, but I’m guardedly hopeful.
them, access is the new right and it’s far more important than
Where in this transition do you see opportunities for start-ups?
Rifkin: The opportunities are in coming up with new process- property. We’re moving from transactions of physical goods
es, programs or technologies that increase efficiencies. This and markets to exchange of services based on time elements –
revolution rests on five pillars: renewable energy generation, rentals, leases, time shares. Whether it’s automobiles, second
converting buildings to individual power plants, creating an homes, you name it.
intelligent energy grid, finding new ways to store energy, and What about making money?
plug-in transports. Entrepreneurs who find value in optimizing Rifkin: It’s going to be tough, because the kids are increasingly used to getting things for free. There is a need for new
the synergies between the five pillars stand to benefit.
models of making money. Musicians, for example, are now
Does the Internet-based communication revolution bring latmaking less money on physically selling music and more on
eral power to other sectors as well, besides energy?
Rifkin: It certainly does. Internet models are going to expand concerts. There will be all sorts of new, more service-orientto the whole economy. Take 3D printing. You can now manu- ed ways to generate income in what I call a “distributed capifacture things like an airplane part or a piece of jewelry by lit- talism world.”
erally printing it out. It’s called “additive manufacturing,” lay- Are the existing rules of intellectual property sufficient?
er by layer, and the result is a physical product, right then and Rifkin: Trademarks are likely to stay, but I think patents and
there in your room. As that scales laterally, you save energy, copyrights are probably history. They’re too slow. Are you goyou lower material cost and you save on shipping. Margins are ing to keep a patent for 20 years when everything moves so
very high. And if you go into networks where you set up mar- quickly in a 24/7, speed-of-light environment? Are you going
keting relationships across the value-added chains, then small to keep a copyright for a hundred years when information likes
and medium-sized companies can compete with multination- to run free and it’s instantaneously on Twitter?
What strategy do you see for winning in the social economy?
als – it’s an entirely different model. It’s really a revolution.
Rifkin: What you need now is to be the first in show. First on
How far will this revolution spread across the economy?
Rifkin: This is the beginning of a general phenomenon. You practice, first online, first in the networks. And that’s how you
can see it in a car-sharing company like Zipcar or a website like stay abreast of it. That’s how you make money.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL | C I A R Á N O ’ L E A RY
“A life-changing psychological
and physical experience”
Besides investing, Earlybird Partner Ciarán O’Leary loves several things: adventure,
personal challenges and, perhaps near the top of the list, soccer club Bayern Munich. It’s no wonder,
since he attended his first Bayern game at the tender age of four.
Tell us your life’s motto in one sentence.
Ciarán O’Leary: I hate mottos! Life is too complicated and
chaotic to be defined by one sentence. See, I’ve already written three sentences.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Ciarán O’Leary: I’d love to be a great investor… OK, just
kidding. ;) I’d love to be a fighter pilot without having to kill
anyone – the adrenaline!
What is the most memorable thing you ever did or received
that didn’t cost any money?
Ciarán O’Leary: Storming onto the streets of Munich and
partying there with a million people when (soccer team) Bayern Munich last won the European Champions League (in
2001). Beer was free, too.
If you could be reborn as an animal, what would you be and
Ciarán O’Leary: An eagle – nature’s fighter pilots.
An Irishman brought up in Munich, O’Leary later
moved to Hamburg and then Berlin. But in this
photo taken at a BBQ in Northern Germany, his
loyalties are clear.
If you could take one year off to help solve one of the globe’s
major problems, which cause would you devote your time to?
Ciarán O’Leary: If we don’t seriously smarten up we are
doomed – so education, especially in Western societies. Think
If you could have one day without any private or professional
obligations, what would you do?
Ciarán O’Leary: I would love to be parachuted onto a boat
in the Volvo Ocean Race crashing through the Southern
Ocean, working as a team in the most extreme survivable conditions. It’s probably a life-changing psychological and physical experience.
BORN: July 12, 1980
NATIONALITY: Irish (and, mentally, Bavarian)
FAMILY STATUS: In a relationship, but no kids yet (despite being Irish)
EDUCATION: Business and Economics (Leipzig and Singapore)
CAR: None (ask me again when I’ve got four kids and live in the country)
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALIVE: Richard Branson
FAVORITE ENTREPRENEUR – ALL TIME: Richard Branson
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