I love to build up and run companies and to establish a certain culture. By doing that i am trying to overcome old-fashioned ideas of management (command & control, micro-management etc.) and develop new ways of leveraging the power of innovation and team-building. I think the strengths of innovative companies are lying in the power of the whole team, therefore the main thing management has to achieve is to leverage this and maintain it when the company is growing. I also believe that we are looking into a future where work is going to be redefined and ideas like 9-to-5, office-presence, goal-management etc. will cease to exist. Together with my colleagues we for example got rid of all kind of individual bonus-structures in our company because it is proven to be counterproductive and simply is based on a stupid idea of steering people into certain directions instead of trusting them. We also got rid of HR trying to figure out what training people should take and monitor their progress etc. - instead we gave the money to the people directly and let them make their own choices where to spend it and what to improve.
I have a strong believe in gender equality and diversity. Because we are so far away from having gender equality in most industries today - sadly also in the digital industry, i do believe in the need of a forcing mechanism to get there quicker, knowing that it is hard to implement, if the regulator does not do it (article in german on the subject). But i wouldn't wait for the regulator to solve the problem - we have to work on spaces which are friendly and comfortable for both genders and that value diversity as the normal (knowing, that this is nevertheless not the case).
I grew up in the digital industry and am lovin it. I think the digitalisation will reshape our world and many industries almost completely in the near future and we have the best chance to shape and drive this development now (including the massive risks for our society). And i believe that digital advertising is not just the - by far - major business model of the web, it's also a huge source of innovation that goes far beyond advertising, like automatic translation, self-driving cars, medical diagnosis etc.
ubirch: ubirch is currently creating a platform for the internet of things, combining state of the art backend technology, machine learning and hardware. The ubirch system works based on GSM-technology instead of Wifi and therefore can be used everywhere. We apply the highest standards in encryption to make communication safe and data reliable. Gamification and smart communication is at the core of our design, enabling surprising and easy to use IoT experiences.
trackle: I am proud to support the team around trackle as an Angel and Co-Founder. Trackle is a revolutionary device for women to avoid or plan to get pregnant without having to apply any pharmaceuticals. Instead the device measures the body temperature and thus enables ovulation tracking with modern technology.
nugg.ad: I founded nugg.ad, a Berlin based startup which is now one of the biggest pan-european targeting platforms and market leader in most european markets. The idea of the company was to reinvent the way ads can be delivered by applying a combination of machine learning and market research (watch this little video to understand the approach). Many european publishers are using the technology today to deliver their ads more precisely. After five years the company was profitable and sold to Deutsche Post/DHL. (ok, this was the only try to play this big-head style, sorry)
Data-Days: At nugg.ad i founded (together with my team) a bi-annual conference called "Data-Days". The aim of the conference is to look at the data-driven world from a slightly different perspective - not only business-models, but also aspects like privacy, society, philosophy etc. are covered. The first edition took place in Berlin in 2012 and was a huge success with more than 200 people attending and speakers from all over the world sharing their thoughts. DataDays 2014 took place at October 1st and 2nd in Berlin and demonstrated the need for a broader perspective on the tricky issue of a data driven future once more (first reviews can be found here and here, a full coverage on the datadays youtube-channel will follow soon).
TNS/AGOF: As i sold 'my part' (which was personalization technology) at humanIT to TNS (market research, now owned by WPP) i was employed by them to run it.
humanIT: The first company where i was employed was a spin-off of Fraunhofer Gesellschaft called "humanIT" that went bankrupt in 2000. I was one of the three employees that were kept to restructure the company and sell it. After 12 months of hard work we were able to sell all assets to two different companies and create a good return for the shareholders. This teached me a lot - how hard it is to go bankrupt and how you can turnaround nevertheless and make the best out of it.
I do care about policy a lot. And i am working on it from very different angels. Until last year i was chairman of the policy committee at IAB Europe - representing the european digital industry in front of the european commission and negotiating principles of an efficient self-regulatory regime for online behavioral advertising in the EU. I am a founding member of D64, a german think-tank/association that tries to deal with all policy issues that arise from the digitalisation of our society. I am advising the federal minstry of economics and energy (Beirat junge digitale Wirtschaft) and the state council of Rheinland Palatine (Landesrat fuer digitale Entwicklung und Kultur) in terms of digital devlopment and entrepeneurship. And i am a proud member of the social democratic party of Germany.
One of my favorite political topics is in the field of algorithms and how they affect our society. I believe that we need an 'algorithm ethics' (in german) for programmers and companies that apply algorithms for filtering the content they deliver to users, regardless whether it is content, advertising, products or personal updates in a timeline.
The other initiative that requires a lot of attention at the moment is the idea of a digital curriculum in german schools. There is no doubt that our schools are not preparing students enough for the digital age at the moment. I want to be part of a movement that tries to change this, therefore its one of the key demands we put on paper for the Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel in the advisory board of his ministry. But i am also personally working on teaching materials to start with education in electronics and programming as early as possible (some examples on my german blog, but also here in english).
Maker & Blogger
I am absolutely amazed by the maker movement and would call myself a maker as well. You can have a look at my projects here: holadimake.wordpress.com or look at my first talk as a maker at re:publica 2014 in Berlin (in german, sorry).
Of course making is fun - but i believe it is more than that. Making is about owning the technology that surrounds you. It's about getting from being the receiver to being the producer. It's about art & creativity. And it's for sure very powerful in connecting people. In a world of surveillance and algorithms a maker-movement can make people more powerful to stay in control and own their environment...
My project MathSweeter has been accepted by MakerFaire Rome 2014, unfortunately i couldn't go.
Currently i am working on the "Finding Europe with Lights project", a pan-european IoT Installation to demonstrate how Europea citizens can be united with technology. It will be shown at re:publica 2015 in Berlin. The status of the project is being documented on a Facebook-Page and you can find more details on how to participate here.
EducationI studied Psychology at the University of Cologne. I worked as an assistant for statistical analysis and methodology for Professor Norbert Groeben. He was a great teacher to me, both for respecting the data and working on an empirical foundation but in the same time trying to avoid a mechanistic approach to the world but applying the hermeneutical principles of understanding and interpretation to live and psychology. I loved how he managed to keep the idea of human autonomy in his psychological work while trying to embrace statistical methods and empirical science as much as possible.
I wrote my diploma thesis on "Mental Models and Hypertext Navigation" with supervision from Prof. Groeben and Prof. Kobsa, professor and researcher in the field of user modeling at GMD/Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, today Professor at University of California.
Speaker & Moderator
I live in Cologne, Germany. You can reach me here