The Third Degree: Lenard Krawinkel of Zoobe

By Simone ODonovan |

This week in the Third Degree, our regular Friday feature where we talk to Berlin’s brightest and best CEOs, we chatted with Lenard Krawinkel of Zoobe about a crazier San Francisco, oil tanks in Abu Dhabi and animated avatars.

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

LENARD KRAWINKEL: I would probably travel around the world finding and funding talent. It would be either to produce films, which I did before, or I would look for authentic storytellers who want to make their own startup and tell some good stories.

SA: What do you like about Berlin?

LK: It’s a city that carries you. It provides space to explore. I think it is one of the few metropolises that allows you to do what I’m doing, running a startup. Berlin has still got a very high quality; it can be likened to San Francisco, but crazier. I don’t feel any pressure from society to be or act a certain way.

SA: Do you prefer East or West Berlin?

LK: I live in the East at Hackescher Markt and I think it’s so beautiful. Then I cycle every morning to my office near Tiergarten, in the West. I prefer Mitte. I think it’s very vibrant.

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

LK: I like to keep moving – so I love to play sports. Playing sports gives me energy and inspiration. I enjoy jogging and tennis. I haven’t played soccer for a while but I used to love that too. I also love travelling with my family. I’d like to do more of that.

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

LK: I love to go to Cefalu in Sicily. There is an apartment directly at the beach and it’s in a very old house. It overlooks a stony beach in a very old fisherman’s village. If you open the window on one side you can smell the sea, and on the other you can smell the pasta. I have been there a couple of times.

SA: What is your favourite cafe/bar/restaurant?

LK: My wife is a great cook so that makes eating at home quite a pleasure. When I don’t eat at home, I like to eat at Diener Tattersall at Savignyplatz. It’s a very old restaurant and very Berlin. There are no tourists, no music, just beer and great German food.

I go to a bar called Pauly Saal at the Mädchenschule quite frequently because it’s so close to my work. The food is too expensive and not great, but the bar is really nice. They have very good cocktails.

SA: If you could employ anybody who would you choose?

LK: I would like to hire certain character designers, for example Peter de Sève, the character designer of Ice Age. For the business side of things I would probably hire Eric Schmidt of Google. I would also love to employ Christo, the exceptional concept artist that wrapped the Reichstag in silver fabric. His next project is in Abu Dhabi and involves oil tanks.

SA: How do you think Berlin as a city will develop in the next decade?

LK: I hope that it won’t be dominated by real estate companies, like the C/O Gallery that was taken over. I don’t want culture to disappear because corporations take over. I think in ten years time Berlin will be the city for internet startups and it will be a creative magnet gathering talent from all over the world. International money will flow to Berlin as the startup industry grows.

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

LK: I’m sure that people will have an animated avatar mirroring their personality in their personal communication. They will also work as agents or assistants and will know you so well. They will handle all your internet searches. I think there will also be services where you can talk to your machines and they will answer to you, something like the iPhone’s Siri.