Shutterstock

The city's affordability and edgy culture is helping turn it into a world-class high-tech center.

Berlin will become the new German headquarters of Twitter, according to recent reports. The city is a long-established center of arts and culture, and in recent years has emerged as an attractive center for both German and expatriates members of the creative class. 

But it has, until recently, struggled as a center of high-tech industry.  A least one urban economist casts Berlin as the exemplar of a culturally creative city which has failed to stimulate a vibrant high-tech cluster and knowledge economy.

That appears to be changing. Twitter selected Berlin over Frankfurt, the country's industrial and financial hub, Hamburg (home to Facebook and Google), and Munich, where Apple, Amazon and Microsoft are based.

Twitter has traditionally eschewed suburban "nerdistan" locations for urban centers. The company is headquartered in downtown San Francisco (not Silicon Valley) and it has offices in New York, London, and Dublin. Co-founder Jack Dorsey has a life-long passion for cities, telling Vanity Fair that his "ultimate aspiration" is to "become Mayor of New York."

"What gets me really energized," he told the magazine, "is thinking about activity within a city."

Berlin is a magnet for talent, with more than 40 percent of its workforce in the creative class. It has long been a center for bohemian and gay culture; Berlin's current mayor is gay. And it affords vibrant arts, culture, and food scenes while offering neighborhoods with still affordable rent.

It's home to a budding high-tech scene as well. After a recent visit, Om Malik, writing for Gigaom, speculated that the city "is poised to be Europe's new tech hub." He writes:

The lack of classical German industries means it is a city with fewer jobs than other parts of Germany. It also means the city has lower wages compared to the rest of Germany and much of Europe. The sprawling nature of the city means that Berlin has lots of real estate. And that means low rents – catnip for artists, musicians and yes, the start-up community.

The entrepreneurship is rampant in this city. Some say there are somewhere between 100 to 400 startups in Berlin. I was in Berlin for about 70 hours and I met with over 40. I am pretty sure – if I stuck around for another week — I would have met many more. The central Mitte district that is home to many of these is called Silicon Allee (aka Silicon Avenue.)  Cafe St. Oberholz is a favorite gathering place of the Internet types.

Not to mention, Berlin leads Germany in Twitter activity according to this detailed analysis, besting Munich and Hamburg. That couldn't have hurt.

Photo credit: Berlin Pictures/Shutterstock

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A sign outside a storefront in Buffalo, New York.
    Environment

    Will Buffalo Become a Climate Change Haven?

    The Western New York city possesses a distinct mix of weather, geography, and infrastructure that could make it a potential climate haven. But for whom?

  2. photo: A vacant home in Oakland that is about to demolished for an apartment complex.
    Equity

    Fix California's Housing Crisis, Activists Say. But Which One?

    As a controversy over unoccupied homes in the Bay Area and Los Angeles reveals, advocates disagree about what kind of housing should be built, and where.

  3. A syringe sits on top of a car. Houses are behind it.
    Life

    The Changing Geography of the Opioid Crisis

    A new study shows that the country faces different opioid challenges in urban and rural areas.

  4. photo: a high-speed train in Switzerland
    Transportation

    The Case for Portland-to-Vancouver High-Speed Rail

    At the Cascadia Rail Summit outside Seattle, a fledgling scheme to bring high-speed rail from Portland to Vancouver found an enthusiastic reception.

  5. photo: a woman on an electric scooter
    Transportation

    Most Electric Scooter Riders Are Men. Here's Why.

    Most users of micromobility devices like dockless scooters and e-bikes are young men. Fixing that gender gap may take more than just adding safety features.

×