There’s that notion in the public perception of Berlin that people come here to delay having to grow up. It’ll get masked as Berlin being the creative city, the poor-but-sexy city, the come-here-for-inspiration-and-stay-for-the-party city, but the root of the matter is: Berlin allows you to not having to deal with all those matters of growing not quite so quickly.
Part of that is due to the fact that it’s so damn cheap here, still. Sure, the rents are rising, but comparatively, it’s very affordable to live here. Another part is that what is considered unthinkable in other cities is just the norm here: experimentation, taking some time off to figure things out, non-linear life paths. That’s the stuff Berlin is made of. The German language even has a term for that: “Berufsjugendliche”
Over dinner the other day friends of mine and I were talking about a crop of Valley startups that just seem flush with money, have some interesting tech, but seem in no hurry to figure out how to actually make a viable business. Reach first, money later. And in that discussion it suddenly struck me – that whole approach is pretty much like moving to Berlin to not have to grow up quite so quickly. Not having to make all those hard decisions that you’d be forced to answer in other, less “creative” or simply more expensive cities. Functionally there’s no difference between being flush with cash in an expensive city, or being skint in a cheap one.
I find that an intriguing lens to see the valley through. MVP and pivoting are basically puberty. Companies trying to find their place in the world. And that can, I guess, help explain why we’re so often disappointed by those Acqui-Hires. After all, it’s like that kid from the block that could have had an awesome career as an artist or musician, but in the end gets lured into an MBA because the money’s good.