In a corporate culture based on lofty job titles and long-term security, many German professionals are unwilling to join a startup offering 70-hour weeks and stock options that might, or might not, pay off.
"You have to have an entrepreneur mentality, not a state-support mentality," said Roberto Zicarri, a computer science professor who also runs LogOn Technology Transfer GmbH, a high-tech marketing firm in Frankfurt.
Another German transplant, Andreas Poliza, took Go Live Systems Inc. to Menlo Park after its Web-design tool drew little interest in Europe. "If you want to play in the international market, you must go to America," Poliza told German magazine Wirtschaftswoche. "Whoever has talent or an idea should dare to take the step." Poliza now has another office in Phoenix and employs 30 people.
The success of Poliza and other entrepreneurs who go abroad represents a trend that concerns European policy makers. With unemployment hovering at nearly 12 percent in such countries as Germany and France, Europe can scarcely afford to lose newly created jobs, especially in high-growth sectors such as technology.
The European Community as well as the German government are beginning initiatives to infuse funds into new IT companies, but with Silicon Valley capital exceeding investment opportunities, the temptation to leave is hard for many of Europe's IT stars to resist.
"Europe and Germany in particular have great entrepreneurial potential," said Rick Hoskins, president of a Berkeley firm that invests in European startups. "Given the unemployment rates, it's high time that the German government find a way of tapping into it." Back to Part 1