‘Europe Will Produce Multi-Billion Dollar Tech Firms’

By David Knight |

By David Knight in London

Europe will produce billon-dollar tech companies sooner rather than later – at least according to Xing founder Lars Hinrichs.

Speaking at the London Web Summit yesterday, Hinrichs – who now heads up pre-seed VC firm HackFwd – made the prediction as part of his praise for the new generation of successful entrepreneurs-turned-investors.

In a panel discussion moderated by event organiser Paddy Cosgrave entitled ‘Exit Schmexit – Creating Liquidity in Europe’, he said: “The first founders, the founders of the 1990s and early 2000s, are now reinvesting, Niklas Zenström probably being the best example – turning from a successful entrepreneur into a successful venture capitalist. This means he sees different deals, different opportunities; he can make sure he’s not selling too early. I am sure we will see a lot of multi-billion companies coming out of Europe.”

A problem put forward during the discussion was that Europeans do not think big enough – many startups naturally concentrate on their home markets, and whereas Germany with its tens of millions of potential users is all well and good, the equivalent companies in the US are looking at hundreds of millions.

But Hinrichs told Silicon Allee afterwards that he was still confident in Europe’s ability to produce enterprises which could rival the likes of Facebook and Google in terms of size. He said: “We’ll see multi-billion dollar companies coming out of Europe – there are some great companies here.”

How soon will it happen? “It all depends on the macroeconomic environment. The non-digital world is going through the highest stress test ever.”

As for Berlin’s role in the European tech scene, the Hamburg-based investor is convinced of its importance. He added: “There are only two real hubs in Europe, London and Berlin… in all places in Europe there are startups. (But) if you take it to a higher level, for networking and being close together, it is only possible in London and Berlin.”

Putting two and two together, there is one question rising up above the others – which Berlin startup is going to be the first to hit ten figures?