TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2019 Highlights


Around 3,000 entrepreneurs, investors, founders and opinion leaders came together in the Arena in Berlin on 11 and 12 December. 250 startups presented their ideas in the Startup Alley, 80 speakers and judges discussed trend topics on stage and 14 startups competed for the legendary Startup Battlefield Cup, a US$50,000 prize along with the attention of the media and investors. 

Mike Butcher, Editor at Large for TechCrunch said: TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin once again brought some of the most exciting companies on stage to talk about their success including Hovhannes Avoyan, PicsArt’s CEO admitting that a sponsorship deal with Kim Kardashian pushed the photo editing app get to 150M users as well as key Ethererum researcher, Justin Drake, predicting Ethererum 2.0 would launch before Facebook’s Libre cryptocurrency. The other highlight of TechCrunch Disrupt is seeing the winner of Startup Battlefield, with Scaled Robotics winning this year’s cup. 

Here are some exclusives from the Disrupt stage you may have missed: 

Klarna CEO announced on stage the opening of a Tech Hub in Berlin and also said “maybe” of taking the company public next year 

Sebastian Siemiątkowski, Founder and CEO of Klarna, speakers on the stage of TC Disrupt Berlin about why there isn’t more consolidation in fintech and the enormous relevance of customer service and transparency in finance, which large banks do not yet offer. He also announced that they are going to launch a Tech-Hub in Berlin with more than 500 employees. 

On the new tech hub, Sebastian Siemiatkowski said: “……we’ve just created this new amazing office here in Berlin. And we’re going to continue to hire a lot of people in Berlin, but not like product engineering and kind of continuous. So we’ve had already amazing successes, building great products here and we want to continue doing that going forward…. 

“So in Germany, we have about 30 million users, which, you know, takes us about 10 million ahead of that American wallet thing, which is quite cool. So Germany is a super important for us. But right now, what’s exciting is the US. So right now we’re adding customers at a pace that will be about, you know, six months, 6 million customers on an annual basis in the US right now. So the US is really taking off and that’s also super exciting to see.” 

On going public next year, Sebastian Siemiatkowski said

“Yeah, I don’t know, maybe it could happen. It was kind of funny, because I was reading an interview with Michael Moritz, who’s on our board, and he was saying that we were going to stay private forever. So, I don’t know, it’s hard for me to know that what’s true anymore. People are reporting different things about Klarna.” 

Succeeding in the Streaming Era with Efe Cakarel (MUBI) MUBI has been in the streaming business since before Netflix, and has successfully built a service that caters to specific needs in a useful, novel way. The company’s CEO talked about the maturation of the streaming market, and what it takes to build a lasting business in an increasingly crowded space. MUBI has been distributing films, including theatrical releases, and now it’s also joining up to produce its first films 

Atomico VCs say that everybody cares in Europe about where the startup dollars are coming from Four VCs of the London-based venture capital firm Atomico, took the stage together for the first time, to talk about a wide range of issues. Among the many things discussed with the four were direct listings, secondary investments and the firm’s sweet spot, which, despite its global reach, largely remains on pan-European companies and largely startups needing Series A-stage funding. 

Hiro Tamura, Partner, Atomico said: “I think the world is waking up to the fact that European venture has comparative performance today with U.S. venture returns. There’s research in that area that’s relatively authoritative. 

As a function of that, yes, you’re right [that this is an issue]. Pension funds in Europe have roughly $4 trillion under management, and a billion dollars [invested last year in venture firms] is a three-fold increase from the year before, so it is material. But as you say, if you think about the $4 trillion that they are managing, it could probably be put to good use deploying capital into venture capital funds that are looking to change the world in a positive way, because that is what impacts the pensioners who are behind that capital. [So] hopefully we’ll continue to see that trend because there’s more to do there.” 

GetYourGuide widens its horizons, will expand its Originals short tours into day trips and more CEO Johannes Reck talks about the next steps in their strategy to expand touchpoints with users and grow and diversify their business. Get Your Guide needs to find ways of keeping existing and new users returning to its own platform, rather than simply tacking on its tour packages while organising other aspects of their vacation. Get Your Guide continues to break ground on changing the conversation around travel, building its own content rather than relying on others to fulfil its vision. 

Scaled Robotics – Winner of Startup Battlefield Berlin 2019 

At the very beginning, there were 14 startups. After two days of incredibly fierce competition, TechCrunch announced a winner for the Startup Battlefield. Scaled Robotics were crowned the winner of Startup Battlefield Berlin 2019. Scaled Robotics has designed a robot that can produce 3D progress maps of construction sites in minutes, precise enough to detect that a beam is just a centimeter or two off. Supervisors can then use the software to check things like which pieces are in place on which floor, whether they have been placed within the required tolerances or if there are safety issues like too much detritus on the ground in work areas. 

Samsung has sold 1 million Galaxy Fold smarthphones 

At TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, Samsung Electronic’s President Young Sohn revealed the company had sold 1 million foldable Galaxy Fold smartphones. Estimates from October pegged sales at that time at 500,000 units. 

“And I think that the point is, we’re selling [a] million of these products,” Sohn said. “There’s a million people that want to use this product at $2,000.”