companies for better or ill. Third, Germany will see demographic change accelerate around the end of this decade. Fourth, it will be “a huge challenge to make Germany attractive to the brightest talent.” And last, the energy sector must be reoriented toward control of emissions, with costs that are competitive for industry while the atomic energy sector is reduced.
Mr. Engardio asked Mr. Curran whether he would start a new company in Germany or the United States. Mr. Curran said it would depend heavily on the type of company. He had started five companies, four in Germany and one in the United States. One was successful, and the others were “okay.” The success had less to do with which country it was in, he said, than the “good and fertile environment” of the location—in that case, near MIT in Massachusetts where the company, Component Software, was founded. “We were looking for people who were able to design a certain type of software, and at the time we would have had trouble finding those people in Germany. Also, given the culture, we would have had trouble convincing them to leave large organizations to join a startup. On the other hand, Germany is a very process oriented culture and economy, and if I wanted to design software for the automobile industry, I would consider doing it in Germany, where you have the engineering expertise and customers. In general, it’s more difficult in Germany to approach a large organization with a new innovation than it is in the United States.”
Mr. Engardio asked whether Germany is developing a more competitive entrepreneurial ecosystem for new tech companies, or whether the United States is still the primary magnet? Mr. Curran said that in the United States 100 years ago, entrepreneurs and industrialists were regarded as heroes, and they were the first “globalizers of industrial thinking.” In the 1960s through 1980s, the United States continued to have many successful entrepreneurs, a tremendous belief in change, and a market eager for it. “In the late 1970s, Bill Gates would hawk his Altair computers at university fairs. There was a belief that something was going to happen that was larger and more important than going to work for a large organization. A respect for risk taking was in the culture.”
“The first company I started,” he continued, “was in Berlin. I was 24 at the time, sort of stuck here, and I decided to start a company to make money. I had to go twice to the German better business bureau for interviews on whether I was qualified to start a business. It seemed strange, coming from the United States where I was recognized at the university for certain software skills. It seemed like a way to protect the rest of the culture and industry against entrepreneurs instead of encouraging them.
THE IMPORTANCE OF AN ENTREPRENEURIAL CLIMATE
“I’m very involved in venture capital and innovation,” he went on. “There has been a lot of change since I first came here, but even today, I think Germans still don’t have the same cultural and social motivations to be entrepreneurs. When I started at SAP, the company was seen as an