The Third Degree: Stefan Kellner of 7Moments

By Conor Rushby |

This week in the Third Degree, our regular Friday feature where we chat to Berlin’s best and brightest CEOs, we spoke to Stefan Kellner of 7Moments about building drones and the death of Facebook.

SILICON ALLEE: If you weren’t the CEO of a startup, what would you be doing?

STEFAN KELLNER: I would be the co-CEO of a startup. I was always into building stuff, and building a company is the most exciting thing you could ever do, because it’s connected to everything. It’s connected to people, to business, to life, to creativity, to products, to consumers, to relationships with people.

SA: What do you like about Berlin?

SK: I think Berlin is interesting because it’s a blank canvas and it doesn’t mean a lot by itself. It doesn’t have one city centre – it has five centres. It also doesn’t have a special style attached to it like most other German cities, like Munich or Hamburg – it’s its own world. In a blank canvas, you can be what you want to be, especially in East Berlin. It’s always changing, too, so it’s the perfect place to build stuff. Because of that many people come here and people love it and are excited about it.

SA: East or West Berlin?

SK: East of course, because West Berlin didn’t change that much when the wall came down. If you go the Western boroughs, you see nothing has changed since the 80s, even the same people now live there. In East Berlin everything has changed in the last 20 years, making it much more exciting to me.

SA: When you leave Berlin where do you like to go?

SK: I either go to nature seeking basically the opposite of a city, seeking loneliness, or otherwise a complete difference in culture. I don’t like to go to other Western cities; I like to go to Asia, to far away places where I can enjoy loneliness and silence. The best experience I had recently was in Nepal – I was trekking in the Himalayas – and this was basically the most opposite place you could ever be. The culture, the people, the language, what you see, what you eat, what you breathe. Everything is very different, and I think that’s valuable, to get a different view on things.

SA: What do you like to do when you’re not working?

SK: If you’re a CEO of a startup, you’re always working. You might not be in the workplace but you’re always working. When I do something different other than taking care of my startup I’m building stuff. I like to do photography; the whole process of having the chemistry in my hands. Or I like to do woodworking, or tinkering with electronics. I tried sports like running but in the end there’s nothing there. You don’t build anything, you just run around and this is very boring I think. What I did recently was building multicopters – drones you could call them – which can carry a camera. It’s a very good combination of photography, electronics, and fun.

SA: What is your favourite cafe, bar, and restaurant in Berlin?

SK: This a very hard question. While having a startup, I also have three kids and I’m building stuff in my free time, so I don’t go to cafes, bars or restaurants that often. But my favourite places are the places I go for lunch when I’m working, for instance The Fresh Eatery on Auguststrasse. I don’t like bars that much any more because of the whole child-unfriendly thing. I also like Ruben & Carla which is directly by my flat, it’s a very good pastrami and steak place, and of course Sankt Oberholz for meeting people.

SA:If you could employ anybody, who would it be?

SK: I think if I could employ anybody I would try to find people who like what we do and how we do it. It could be many people, though I don’t believe in rockstars – I believe in teams and co-working and a good understanding of what we do. I look up to some entrepreneurs, but I would never employ them; I would never employ myself. There are people that are entrepreneurs and there are people that are employees, and a real entrepreneur would never be a good employee. It just doesn’t fit.

SA: What do you think the Internet will look like in ten years?

SK: That’s a very interesting question. I’ve been watching the Internet since 92, 93 and what excited me the most back then was the openness of the Internet, and the decentralised structure. You had a couple of protocols that you could use, and you had networks that were interconnected. Basically this infrastructure hasn’t changed over time, so there is quite a risk that net neutrality will be endangered as most of the services we use these days are centralised like Facebook, Amazon, and  Google. I think this is the wrong direction, but I think it will change dramatically. The more the Internet gets in every aspect of our lives the more we need it to be decentralised, unattached to governments or single companies. And I think that’s just a matter of protocols. We have seen that with Bitcoin, which was a very interesting approach to anonymous payment, without a centralised infrastructure. Unfortunately it didn’t get that far, but I think this was a first indication of what could happen next.

Big things like Facebook, they have to die, they’re completely out of time, almost like a monarchy. At the moment there is no way of having this kind of communication without Facebook. There’s some approaches to it, but they haven’t succeeded yet . People already get this social media fatigue when they’re on Facebook all the time – they’re using it like crazy because the new ways of communication are amazing and absolutely needed, but Facebook won’t be the company that hosts that kind of communication forever. I don’t know who it will be in the end, but I hope it will be a protocol or a service, that will be open and people can just utilise it.