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Internet Entrepreneurship in Europe

Venture Failure and the Timing of Telecommunications Reform

Niko Marcel Waesche

From its launch in 1997, the Frankfurt technology stock exchange developed spectacularly as did other European technology exchanges. Many Europeans thought that a new age of entrepreneurship had dawned. Following the downturn, however, the search for blame began. Much of this blame was undifferentiated and subjective. Public policy lessons were not drawn. Written by a well-known commentator of the European venture capital community, this book analyses the rise and decline of European internet entrepreneurship. The effects of both the public promotion of venture capital investments as well as the timing of telecommunications reform are examined in detail in various European countries, in particular in Germany and Sweden. The book contains a wealth of unique data on the failure of European internet ventures and draws several technology and telecommunications policy conclusions.
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Chapter 6: Survey of Internet Entrepreneurship in Germany

Niko Marcel Waesche


When this research in uneven internet development was initiated in late 1997, very little was known about internet entrepreneurship in countries other than in the United States. There, entrepreneurs already had been pursuing internet opportunities for around two years.1 In other countries, however, including Germany, remarkably little information existed on internet start-up companies, indeed, one was justified in wondering whether there were entrepreneurs pursuing internet opportunities at all. Only a handful of internet ventures had entered media awareness, and most of these were not started as internet firms and had refocused on the internet only later.2 Only a single German company had carried out a public offering at the time of the survey which could be labelled an internet company.3 Yet, practitioners in touch with the computer and software communities nevertheless suggested that an entrepreneurial wave associated with the internet opportunity had long been brewing in Germany. Some emphasized that German entrepreneurs had begun to address the internet opportunity as early as their US counterparts. An entrepreneurial wave seemed evident only at the end of the 1990s. At this time, the new German alternative stock exchange, the Neuer Markt, listed significant numbers of German internet ventures. The landscape seemed transformed and a revolution in internet entrepreneurship seemed under way in Germany. Yet, the companies listed on the Neuer Markt as internet ventures were not necessarily representative of internet entrepreneurship in Germany. The stock segment was dominated by web developers and other types of consultants. Numerous ISPs had...

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