Wednesday Round-Up: Microsoft, Zoobe, plista and More

By David Knight |

We’re back – and there’s a lot going on in Berlin’s startup world to keep us occupied. Microsoft are ramping up their operations in the German capital, cartoon messaging app Zoobe continues to make progress and plista is up for an award. There are also plenty of great events coming up – so check out our Wednesday round-up.

Having launched its new presence in Berlin in July, Microsoft is now beginning to ramp up activity at its snazzy Unter den Linden HQ with the opening of the Digital Eatery. Described as a mashup of cafe and showroom, the space will see visitors invited to try out new hardware, software and services. It has been developed together with restaurateur brothers Gernot and Elmar Karger.

The computing giant is hoping the Digital Eatery will provide a new way of communicating directly with consumers. Visitors will be able to experiment with the entire range of Microsoft products, including the Surface tablet, Windows Phone 8, Xbox and Kinect as well as services like SkyDrive and SmartGlass, without any sales pressure.

Henrik Tesch, director of policy and community involvement at Microsoft Germany and the branch manager in Berlin, said: “The Digital Eatery is the heart of our new location in Berlin and is unique in the world. We see ourselves as hosts and as a meeting place for the digital society and invite you to try our products in a relaxed atmosphere.”

In the future, the building will also host the Microsoft accelerator.


Cartoon messaging app Zoobe has inked a deal with Warner Bros. in Germany to promote a new children’s 3D film, Keinohrhase und Zweiohrküken. The two title characters – Keinohrhase means ‘no ears rabbit’, and Zweiohrküken ‘two ears chick’ – will be exclusively available on the startup’s platform, where they can be brought to life for your personal cartoon message.

With Zoobe, you can create a personalised animated message by taking a recording of your voice, changing its pitch and adding it to a cute 3D character which moves its lips in synch with your words. The company recently closed a seven-figure seed round.

Zoobe CMO Norbert Richard Meinike said: “With the integration of the characters Keinohrhase and Zweiohrküken in the Zoobe app, we are enabling smartphone users around the world to slip into the skin of the two movie stars and create unique 3D animated video messages for every occasion.”


Plista, a Berlin-based platform providing innovative solutions for targeted digital advertising, has been nominated for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. It is one of ten finalists in the startup category and will learn if it has won in Frankfurt on Thursday. Jana Kusick, MD of sales and co-operations at plista, said: “The nomination for an internationally important award alone makes us proud.”


Free-to-use Swedish ecommerce platform Tictail, which attracts a significant amount of its traffic from Germany, has launched an API, SDK and UI kit to enable third-party developers to create new Tictail apps. Dubbed the ‘Tumblr of ecommerce’, the company focuses on strong community integration, simplicity of use and attractive, customisable design. The Tictail App Store will enable developers to reach thousands of online store owners from more than 110 territories across the world.

Tictail CEO Carl Waldekranz said: “This isn’t just about opening an API, we think of them as the next generation of web apps. We are opening up a genuinely level playing field, offering developers the same tools we use internally to build Tictail.”


In the absence of the Big Berlin Breakdown this week, there is also plenty going on in terms of events. The You Is Now weekend, which starts on Friday, will see teams attempt to bring an idea to fruition in the form of a minimum viable product in just 40 hours. The motto for the event is appropriate – “Move fast and break things.” It takes place at the Immobilienscout24 offices near Ostbahnhof over three days. You can buy tickets and find more info here.

And don’t forget next week is Social Media Week. There will be a variety of talks, workshops and panel discussions at two venues, with different themes including education, art, marketing and advertising and entrepreneurship. Check out more here.

Berlin is also gearing up for the first TechCrunch Disrupt to be held in Europe. Alongside the talks, panels and fireside chats, there will be the traditional Startup Battlefield where competing companies will have the chance to pitch their companies live and onstage to innovators, investors and influencers to win a prize of €40,000 and the Disrupt Cup.

Speakers at the main conference will include Airbnb’s Nate Blecharczyk, Aaron Levie of Box, SoundCloud’s Alexander Ljung, and Saul Klein and Neil Rimer of Index Ventures.

The event takes place at Arena Berlin from October 26-29 and you can buy earlybird tickets here before they end on September 23.

Also, keep an eye out for a great Silicon Allee giveaway for the upcoming Dublin Web Summit.