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Code and compete in the TC Hackathon at Disrupt Berlin

By Leslie Hitchcock

We’re in the home stretch to the TC Hackathon going down at Disrupt Berlin 2019 on 11-12 December. If you have what it takes to compete against some of the best hackers, developers, engineers and code poets, apply to the TechCrunch Hackathon now. We have fewer than 50 seats left, and they’ll be gone before you can say deep hack mode.

The Hackathon is free — no fee to apply or to compete. It’s a thrilling, fun and exhausting ride. Designing, creating and pitching a working product in roughly 24 hours will test your physical, mental and technical limits. It’s an adrenaline rush like no other.

What do you get for messing with your circadian rhythm? For starters, we’ll keep you fed, watered and caffeinated. And every participant receives a free Innovator pass to enjoy Disrupt Berlin. Then there’s the prize money associated with each sponsored contest and, on top of that, TechCrunch editors will award an additional $5,000 prize to the team they choose for creating the best overall hack.

When you and your team arrive on site, you’ll pick one of several sponsored contest hacks to tackle and complete. Arriving solo? No worries. We’ll help you find a team when you get here.

After the 24-hour hackathon clock runs out, sponsor representatives and TechCrunch editors will review all completed projects. They’ll select 10 teams to move on to the finals the following day. Each team gets two minutes to power pitch and present their products live on the Extra Crunch Stage.

After 10 sleep-deprived presentations, the judges announce the winners of the sponsor challenges and TechCrunch reveals the winner of best overall hack and awards them $5,000.

Curious about the types of challenges you’ll find on tap? We’ll announce this year’s sponsors and their specific contests before the month is out, but here’s an example of the type of challenges you can expect.

Last year at Disrupt SF, BYTON sponsored a contest challenging the Hackathon participants to create a product that addressed this question: What will people want to do in a car that has a 49-inch screen and drives autonomously? The $5,000 first prize went to CAR-O-KE, a karaoke app for autonomous vehicles. Check out the other sponsored contests, prizes and winners from DSF ’18.

TC Hackathon takes place during Disrupt Berlin 2019 on 11-12 December. Love to code? Love to compete? Love to win money and recognition? Then apply to the Hackathon today before the last remaining seats disappear.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Don’t miss out: Exhibit in Startup Alley at Disrupt Berlin 2019

By Leslie Hitchcock

Heiliger Strohsack — holy smokes! In just a few weeks, thousands of attendees will arrive in Germany for Disrupt Berlin 2019, the premiere international tech conference focused on early-stage startups. Talk about an opportunity to expose your fledgling startup to savvy investors, hungry media and a host of successful tech entrepreneurs and potential customers — from more than 50 countries.

Here’s the best part: you still have time to plant your flag in Startup Alley and place your innovative products and ideas in front of the movers and shakers who can help you advance your business goals. How? Buy a Startup Alley Exhibitor Package.

Startup Alley exhibitors receive one full day on the expo floor, plus three Founder passes, access to programming on all stages (including the Startup Battlefield competition, speakers, interactive workshops and Q&A Sessions), the complete attendee list via Disrupt Mobile App, CrunchMatch — TechCrunch’s free networking platform — the complete press list, entrance to networking parties and exclusive video content access once the conference ends.

Consider the benefits of exhibiting. Disrupt Berlin attendees flock to Startup Alley to meet and greet the hundreds of outstanding startups on display — including our recently announced TC Top Picks. It’s networking on steroids where you have the opportunity to meet investors determined to find the perfect addition to their portfolios, journalists eager to write about new companies and emerging trends or startuppers looking for collaborators, service providers or a new gig.

What’s more, every startup that exhibits gets a shot at the Wild Card — which means a spot to compete in Startup Battlefield. Imagine — you could win it all and take home the $50,000 prize. Does that seem far-fetched? Granted, it’s a longshot, but Legacy earned the Wild Card at Disrupt Berlin 2018 and went on to win the Startup Battlefield ccompetition. And RecordGram did the same at Disrupt NY 2017.

Whether or not you win the Wild Card, exhibiting in Startup Alley provides real benefits. Here’s what Caleb John, co-founder of Cedar Robotics, told us about his experience.

“We demonstrated our technology in front of hundreds of people. It was a chance to meet startups we might work with, investors for potential funding and, because we plan to expand down the road, we’ll need to hire people for R&D. Building relationships with those firms was very helpful.”

Disrupt Berlin 2019 takes place in just a few weeks — on 11-12 December. Don’t miss your opportunity for the kind of exposure that can alter the trajectory of your startup in the best way possible. Buy your Startup Alley Exhibitor Package and show the world what you’ve got!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Omnius CEO Sofie Quidenus-Wahlforss is joining us at Disrupt Berlin

By Romain Dillet

When you think about artificial intelligence, chances are you think about anthropomorphic robots that can make decisions on their own. But artificial intelligence already has huge impacts in the insurance space. That’s why I’m excited to announce that omni:us founder and CEO Sofie Quidenus-Wahlforss is joining us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

omni:us is an AI-driven service that can process a ton of documents (including documents with handwriting), classify them and extract relevant data. This way, omni:us customers can use the platform for automated claims handling.

The startup doesn’t want to disrupt existing insurance companies. Instead, it is working with some of the biggest insurance companies out there, such as Allianz, Baloise, AmTrust and Wefox.

Last year, omni:us raised a $22.5 million Series A funding round (€19.7 million) led by Berlin-headquartered VC firm Target Global, followed by MMC Ventures and Talis Capital. Existing investors Unbound and Anthemis, also participated. Up next, omni:us wants to expand to the U.S.

omni:us is well aware that relying more heavily on artificial intelligence can create some issues. Many AI-driven platform act as a sort of black box — you input data and get a result without really knowing why. omni:us says front and center that it wants to make fast, transparent and empathetic claims decisions.

Buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion and many others. The conference will take place on December 11-12.

In addition to panels and fireside chats, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield to compete for the highly coveted Battlefield Cup.


Sofie Quidenus-Wahlforss is an experienced managing director with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Her strategic skills coupled with a passion for AI led her to create omni:us with the goal of redefining the way people work and how companies are handling their business operations. omni:us is as an MI-based, SaaS solution to massively optimize workflows, and empower businesses to make comprehensive data-driven decisions.

Prior to omni:us, Sofie founded Qidenus Technologies which quickly became the leader in the market of robotics and digitization. Sofie is also the patent owner of the Vshape scanner Technology and winner of several awards including the Woman Technology. omni:us is an Artificial Intelligence as a Service (AIaaS) provider for cognitive claims management. Built on a fully data-driven approach, omni:us is transforming the way insurers interact with their insured parties. It provides all the necessary tools and information to make fast, transparent and empathetic claims decisions, whilst improving operational efficiency and reducing loss adjustment expenses. The company is headquartered in Berlin, with research partners in Barcelona and representations in the UK, France and the United States. For further information visit omnius.com.

Sharding, scalability, decentralization – You name it, we’ve got it on the EC stage in Berlin

By Mike Butcher

Sharding and scalability. Transactions per second. Crypto-ecosystems. The decentralized web. These are the voyages of the Starship Blockchain, on it’s five-year mission to seek out… OK, you get the drift! But as you can tell, there remain many, many issues to tease out of this burgeoning new tech world, one we will be unpacking at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin this December.

There are still a lot of issues to deal with. The current version of Ethereum can only handle a dozen transactions per second. “Sharding” or spreading the load via partitioning, should lead to a drastic increase in performance, but the question is how to do it? Ethereum 2.0 still remains a moving target. There is even a growing “Ethereum killer” community. And while all this goes on, high-minded organizations like the Web3 Foundation are trying to foster the development of a user-friendly crypto-ecosystem and decentralized web.

Who on earth would take all this on? TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, of course, and, in particular, our Extra Crunch stage.

Since we launched Extra Crunch, our premium content service for those readers who like to hold TechCrunch close and cuddle it at night, we’ve been running a premium EC stage at our TechCrunch Disrupt conferences, and this will be no less true in Berlin.

Given Berlin is a hotbed of blockchain startups and development, it would be utterly remiss of us not to cover this subject, but the Extra Crunch stage gives us some extra (oh yeah!) bandwidth to do deep-dives for attendees to get under the skin of this rapidly expanding aspect of the tech industry.

We’re excited to be joined by three amazing speakers to pore over the latest development in the blockchain world.

Justin Drake (Ethereum)
Justin studied mathematics at Cambridge University. He was a Bitcoin entrepreneur from 2014 to 2017 and is now an Ethereum 2.0 researcher.

Justin is going to cover where Ethereum 2.0 is right now as someone who has been working on sharding and scalability and supporting the Ethereum ecosystem to enable these new use cases.

With the current version of Ethereum only able to handle a dozen transactions per second, sharding will be crucial, but Ethereum 2.0 is a moving target and remains a large-scale experiment of distributed development.

If the community gets it right, Ethereum 2.0 could transform the Ethereum blockchain into a sort of “world computer” that can execute instructions across a network of servers all around the world. On the EC stage, Justin will also be talking with other blockchain experts about building a blockchain startup. If anyone knows, he knows how important it is to build a community of developers and researchers around your blockchain project.

Ash Egan (Accomplice VC)
A World Economic Forum Global Shaper and advisor at ConsenSys’ Tachyon Accelerator, Ash Egan has backed a number of headline companies in the space, including Bison Trails, Coda, CoinList, Dapper Labs, Near, Simplex and Torus. Before Accomplice, he co-launched ConsenSys’ venture arm and started his career at Converge VC in Boston.

Egan has previously highlighted the ongoing innovations within the “Ethereum killer” community and how it “expands the sandbox,” but he also believes that for mass adoption of crypto on social networks to take off, users will need to be monetized via advertisements and referrals.

Ashley Tyson (Web3 Foundation)
Ashley Tyson is the director of Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives at Web3 Foundation. She spends her time aligning diverse teams working on decentralized systems and supporting blockchain ecosystem initiatives like Ethereum Community Fund and ETHPrize.

Prior to Web3 Foundation, Ashley co-founded DEFCAD, a censorship-resistant search engine for 3D printable files. She deeply understands the need for a decentralized web, beginning her career in NYC at one of the first social media-focused agencies, where she helped multinational corporations build Web 2.0 strategies around consumer data acquisition for use in marketing initiatives.

Disrupt Berlin runs December 11 and December 12. Tickets are available here!

5 reasons you need to be at Disrupt Berlin

By Lauren Simonds

We’re one month out from Disrupt Berlin (11-12 December) and no matter which part of the startup ecosystem you inhabit, Disrupt Berlin is a huge opportunity to learn, network and gain inspiration.

Consider these five reasons why you should buy a pass to Disrupt Berlin and join thousands of founders, investors and technologists for two potential-packed days that could change the trajectory of your business.

1. The People You Will Meet

As hard as founders work, it takes a network to make startup dreams come true. Networking at Disrupt Berlin puts you in touch with people who can help you move toward your goal. Connect with investors, developers, engineers, founders, marketers and more. Sizing up investors? Got questions about manufacturing or product development?

You’ll find the right people a lot faster and more efficiently thanks to CrunchMatch, the free business match-making platform we’re making available to all attendees. When CrunchMatch goes live (before the conference starts), we’ll email instructions on accessing the platform to all registered attendees.

You create a profile outlining your role and the type of connections you want to make. CrunchMatch suggest connections based on similar goals and then — subject to your approval — the platform handles all the scheduling details. It’s simple and it connects you with the people you really want to meet. And there will be nearly 3,000 to choose from.

2. The Interviews You’ll Watch (and questions you can ask)

TechCrunch’s editors have spent months picking speakers for the Disrupt stage who reflect the current trends and conversations in the startup ecosystem . The editors interviews focus on teasing out the information and insights everyone wants to hear. And if you have questions of your own, many of the speakers will be available for audience questions at a follow-up Q&A.

New to Disrupt Berlin this year, The Extra Crunch Stage, features experienced operators giving practical, real-world advice on how to launch, run and grow a successful startup, including the chance for you to ask our experts your questions. We launched this stage earlier this year in San Francisco, and the ”how to” programming was a huge hit. Curious about what it takes to raise a series A? Are you all about SaaS? Need help with your PR and branding strategy? Or thinking of scaling your startup globally? We have you covered.

And there’s so much more programming waiting for you across several stages— plan your time and check out the Disrupt Berlin agenda.

3. The Thrills of Startup Battlefield

There’s no better startup launch pad than our world-renowned Startup Battlefield. Since 2007, this global pitch competition has launched 857 companies — like Vurb, Dropbox, Mint and Yammer. They’ve collectively raised $8.9 billion and produced 113 exits. Who will join their ranks?

Be in the room to watch this year’s outstanding cohort go head-to-head in a fierce battle to win the judges hearts and minds. Oh, right — they’ll also win the Disrupt Cup, intense media and investor love and a $50,000 equity-free cash infusion. It all goes down live on the Main Stage, and it’s streamed live to a global audience.

4. The Serendipity of Startup Alley

Opportunity is the name of the game in Startup Alley — the expo floor and heartbeat of Disrupt Berlin. It’s where you’ll find hundreds of early-stage startups showcasing the latest products, platforms and services across the tech spectrum. Looking for potential customers, collaborators, mentors or just curious about new technology? Head to Startup Alley, because you never know who you’ll meet.

Here’s another great reason to go — you’ll find our TC Top Picks. TechCrunch editors hand-picked up to five stellar startups to represent the best of the following tech categories: AI/Machine Learning, Biotech/Healthtech, Blockchain, Fintech, Mobility, Privacy/Security, Retail/E-commerce, Robotics/IoT/Hardware, CRM/Enterprise and Education.

5. Your Inspiration, Stoked

You’re focused on making your startup dreams come true. Investing two days at Disrupt to meet new, yet like-minded people can shake things up in the best possible way. Connect with your community, refresh your thinking, share ideas and hear new perspectives. And maybe meet a future partner, investor, or employee. Go home inspired to dig deeper and work harder.

Well, there you have it. Five awesome reasons to hop off the fence, buy a pass to Disrupt Berlin and join us on 11-12 December.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Last chance for early-bird pricing on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019

By Leslie Hitchcock

Trite as it may sound, all good things must come to an end. And the good thing that’s about to come to a grinding halt is early-bird pricing on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019. You have mere hours to save — the deadline strikes tonight at 11:59 p.m. (CEST).

You can save up to €500, but only if you beat the clock. Buy your early bird pass right now, otherwise you’ll pay more than necessary — how sad.

Need more inspiration than saving significant euros? Okay, let’s talk speakers. Disrupt conferences always offers an awesome lineup of speakers, and this year Disrupt Berlin is no exception. We’re going to mix it up a bit in this post and feature just some of the impressive women who will hold forth on the various Disrupt stages.

Unnatural Language Processing with Emily Foges (CEO at Luminance) and Sofie Quidenus-Wahlforss (founder & CEO at omni:us). Legal contracts and insurance policies can be difficult even for experts to decipher. Hear from the founders how Luminance and omni:us use AI to take on jargon and save everyone time.

The New New Shop with Maria Raga (CEO of Depop). As shopping has moved from the web to apps, Depop has caught the Gen-Z wave. We’ll hear from Raga, the CEO nurturing this “eBay for the 21st Century.”

What does it take to raise a Series A? with Jessica Holzbach (co-founder & CCO at Penta), Louise Dahlborn Samet (partner at Blossom Capital) and Hannah Seal (principal at Index Ventures). Venture capital funds have boomed this decade, but raising money is still hard for young companies. What are investors today looking for in teams, metrics and products?

Up, Up and Away with Jen Rubio (co-founder & chief brand officer at Away). The D2C space is awfully crowded, but luggage brand Away has managed to rise above the noise to build one of the most successful consumer brands of this decade with a valuation of $1.4 billion as of earlier this year. Hear from CEO Jen Rubio about how the company got its start, grew, and became the household name it is today.

Like we said, those are but a few of the amazing women you’ll hear at Disrupt Berlin. And the guys aren’t half bad either. Check out the full agenda here.

There’s more to explore at Disrupt Berlin — Q&A Sessions, the Startup Battlefield, the Hackathon finalists pitching on the Extra Crunch Stage and hundreds of startups in Startup Alley, including our recently announced TC Top Picks.

See and do it all at Disrupt Berlin 2019 on 11-12 December. You’ll see and do it all for less if you act now and buy an early-bird pass to Disrupt Berlin before early-bird pricing disappears tonight at 11:59 p.m. (CEST).

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

SoftBank Vision Fund’s Carolina Brochado is coming to Disrupt Berlin

By Romain Dillet

SoftBank’s Vision Fund has single-handedly changed the game when it comes to tech startup investment. And that’s why I’m excited to announce that SoftBank Vision Fund investment director Carolina Brochado is joining us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

Carolina Brochado isn’t a newcomer when it comes to VC investment. She’s worked for years at Atomico in London. Originally from Brazil, she first joined Atomico as an intern in 2012 while studying her MBA at Columbia Business School.

After her MBA, she joined an e-commerce startup as head of operations. Unfortunately, that startup is now defunct. But she used that opportunity to join Atomico once again, as a principle. She became a partner at Atomico in 2016 and left the firm late last year.

At SoftBank’s Vision Fund, she focuses on fintech, digital health and marketplace startups. Just to give you an idea, some of her past investments with both Atomico and SoftBank include LendInvest, Gympass, Hinge Health, Ontruck and Rekki.

More generally, given the size of SoftBank’s Vision Fund ($100 billion), it has had a huge impact on the growth trajectory of some companies. I’m personally curious to know SoftBank’s approach as board members, whether they get involved in the strategy of those companies or let the executive teams make decisions on their own.

Buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion and many others. The conference will take place on December 11-12.

In addition to panels and fireside chats, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield to compete for the highly coveted Battlefield Cup.


Carolina focuses on fintech, digital health and marketplaces. Prior to joining Softbank, Carolina was a Partner at Atomico, where she sourced and collaborated with portfolio companies for almost five years. Some of her investments included Lendinvest, Gympass, Hinge Health, Ontruck and Rekki.

Previously Carolina has worked as Head of Ops to a now defunct gifting e-commerce start-up, as an investor at Chicago-based private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners and within Consumer/Retail Investment Banking at Merrill Lynch in New York.

Carolina has a Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and an MBA from Columbia Business School. She is originally from Brazil.

48 hours left to save up to €500 on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019

By Leslie Hitchcock

Livin’ la vida loca pretty much sums up the early-stage startup life. We understand just how crazy-busy life gets, but we’re here to remind all the last-minute mavens that you have just 48 hours to take advantage of early-bird prices to Disrupt Berlin 2019. Depending on the type of pass you buy, you can save up to €500.

The early-bird pricing ends at 11:59 p.m. (CEST) this Friday, 15 November. Hit the brakes on livin’ la vida loca long enough to beat the deadline, buy your early-bird pass and save.

Now that you’ve saved a tidy sum, why not get a jump on planning your time at Disrupt Berlin? If networking’s your game, you’ll want to take advantage of CrunchMatch. Our free business-matching platform combines the best of two worlds — automation and curation — to help you zero in the people who align with your business goals. Cut through the noise and spend your valuable time talking to the right people. Read about how CrunchMatch works.

Curious about the latest innovations happening across the tech spectrum? Set your GPS for Startup Alley, our exhibition floor where you’ll find hundreds of early-stage startups displaying their products, platforms and services. Whether you’re an investor, founder, developer — or play some other role in the startup world — you’ll find something new and exciting in Startup Alley.

When you’re in Startup Alley, be sure to check out our TC Top Picks. TechCrunch editors chose these early-stage startups because they represent the best of their respective tech categories. Which startups won this coveted designation? Meet our TC Top Picks for Disrupt Berlin 2019.

Want to see top-notch startups in action? Grab a seat for the world-famous, always-epic Startup Battlefield pitch competition. Between 15-20 teams of startup founders will pitch to a tough panel of veteran VCs and technologists. Every competitor has what it takes, but which one will take it all — the Disrupt Cup, $50,000 in equity-free cash and intense investor and media exposure?

There’s more to experience at Disrupt Berlin, including interviews, fireside chats and panel discussions with world-class speakers. You can go deeper on a specific topic by attending Q&A Sessions, and you can check out what some of the world’s best coders created at the Hackathon. The finalists will pitch their products on the Extra Crunch Stage. Don’t miss what matters most to you — check out the Disrupt Berlin agenda.

Disrupt Berlin 2019 takes place on 11-12 December. You have only 48 hours left to get the best possible price on tickets. You can live la vida loca and still beat the deadline. Buy your early-bird pass before Friday, 15 November at11:59 p.m. (CEST).

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Johannes Reck from GetYourGuide to talk about reaching unicorn status at Disrupt Berlin

By Romain Dillet

Earlier this year, GetYourGuide raised a gigantic $484 million funding round with SoftBank’s Vision Fund leading the round. Now that the German startup has reached a valuation well over the $1 billion mark, it’s time to look back at the company’s impressive trajectory. That’s why I’m excited to announce that GetYourGuide co-founder and CEO Johannes Reck is joining us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

At first, people started booking flights and train tickets on online platforms. Then, they started booking hotel rooms and Airbnb apartments. But going somewhere is just step one. You also need to figure out what you’re going to do when you arrive in a city you don’t know.

GetYourGuide lets you book experiences, from sightseeing tours to tickets for attractions and others. Behind the scene, the company operates a marketplace that matches third parties with travelers.

But the startup now wants to go one step further and build a catalog of “Originals” tour experiences, such as a ‘GetYourGuide Instagram Tour of Bali’, which is probably a lot more appealing to young travelers compared to traditional travel agencies.

GetYourGuide’s metrics are mindboggling. Back in May, the company offered 50,000 experiences and had sold 25 million tickets in total. And I’m sure those numbers are even higher today.

The startup has a shot at becoming a cultural phenomenon and influence the way we travel — just like Airbnb did with its peer-to-peer rental platform. And I can’t wait to hear Johannes Reck tell us how to grow such a big marketplace with everyone’s best interests in mind.

Buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion — and many others. The conference will take place December 11-12.

In addition to panels and fireside chats, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield to compete for the highly coveted Battlefield Cup.


Johannes Reck is the Chief Executive Officer at GetYourGuide. He leads the company’s long-term vision and strategy.

Johannes co-founded GetYourGuide in 2009 while attending the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and has grown the company into the leading booking platform for incredible travel experiences.

Under Johannes’ leadership, over 30 million tickets have been booked to date via the GetYourGuide website, mobile app, and partnership network. GetYourGuide has raised over $650M from investors such as the SoftBank Vision Fund, Battery Ventures and KKR. Johannes leads GetYourGuide’s 550-person global team from its headquarters in Berlin, Germany.

Johannes originally hails from Cologne, Germany and holds an M.Sc. in Biochemistry from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Less than 72 hours left to buy early-bird passes to Disrupt Berlin

By Leslie Hitchcock

Pull your heads out of the trenches, startup fans. You have just 72 hours to save up to €500 with early-bird pricing on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019. When the clock strikes 11:59 p.m. (CEST) on Friday, 15 November, the early bird is no more.

Three days will fly by in a flash, so don’t wait. Take 10 minutes now, buy your early-bird pass and save today.

Disrupt Berlin offers two programming-packed days of opportunity and education. On top of classic events like the Startup Battlefield pitch competition and the Hackathon, you’ll find hundreds of boundary-pushing startups on display in Startup Alley, including our recently announced TC Top Picks.

We have an outstanding line up of speakers, workshops, fireside chats, panel discussions Q&A Sessions and interviews with some of the greatest minds and makers, doers and shakers in tech and investment. Check out the Disrupt Berlin agenda and find the topics most relevant to your interests. Here’s a peek at just some of the awesome presentations you can attend.

Curious about investing in South African growth markets or tapping the pool of talented developers across Africa? Don’t miss either of these compelling discussions.

Investing and Operating in Growth Markets with Bob van Dijk (Prosus and Naspers). Prosus is a global consumer internet company with interests in food delivery, payments and fintech, classifieds, travel, retail, media, social platforms and a dedicated ventures team, not to mention a huge stake in Tencent. CEO Bob van Dijk discusses what Prosus believes is around the corner in these growth markets and why Naspers, a South African internet company, listed Prosus on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange in September, thus creating Europe’s largest listed consumer internet company in 2019.

Investing in Africa’s Tech Talent with Jeremy Johnson (Andela) and Lila Preston (Generation Investment Management). Generation Investment Management, the firm co-founded by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, was built on the premise of backing sustainable startups. The fund’s lead, Lila Preston, brings their portfolio company Andela to discuss how they have harnessed the booming talent in Africa to solve global outsourcing issues and what’s next in building sustainable companies.

Perhaps you want a better understanding of what investors look for when it comes to prospective startups. We’ve got you covered.

What does it take to raise a Series A with Jessica Holzbach (Penta), Louise Samet (Blossom Capital) and Hannah Seal (Index Ventures). Venture capital funds have boomed this decade, but raising money is still hard for young companies. What are investors today looking for in teams, metrics and products?

Fireside Chat with Atomico with Sophia Bendz, Siraj Khaliq, Hiro Tamura and Niall Wass (Atomico). From a single London base a few years ago, European VC firm, Atomico has spread to the U.S. and Asia. Hear from key partners about this global VC’s strategy going forward.

Disrupt Berlin 2019 takes place in one month, but you have only until Friday, 15 November at 11:59 p.m. (CEST) — that’s just three days — to buy your pass at the best possible price. Don’t wait, act. And we’ll see you in Berlin!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Could your startup earn the Wild Card at Disrupt Berlin 2019?

By Priya Gupta

We’re just about one month away from opening the doors to infinite early-stage startup opportunity. We’re talking about Disrupt Berlin 2019, which takes place on 11-12 December. But today we’d like to highlight a specific opportunity you might not be familiar with — the Wild Card.

Why is this opportunity a big deal? The startup that earns the Wild Card designation gets to compete in Startup Battlefield, our epic pitch competition with a $50,000 prize. Ka-ching!

How do you qualify? Every early-stage startup that exhibits in Startup Alley, our expo floor and the heart of every Disrupt — has a shot at the Wild Card. And we mean every startup — Startup Alley Exhibitor Package holders, our recently announced TC Top Picks, members of a Country Pavilion — no matter how you come to exhibit in Startup Alley, you’re eligible.

Here’s how it all works. The day before Disrupt Berlin 2019 opens, TechCrunch editors will review the exhibiting startups and select one standout to join the cadre of Startup Battlefield competitors. The Wild Card team receives roughly 24 hours’ notice before they step out onto the Main Stage to pitch their product and company in front of a live audience — and a panel of expert VCs and technologists waiting to be impressed.

Talk about pressure. But startuppers don’t back away from a potentially life-changing opportunity — they rise to the occasion, amirite? Case in point: the little startup that could. Legacy earned the Wild Card at Disrupt Berlin 2018 and went on to win Startup Battlefield, beau coup love and attention from investors and media — not to mention that $50,000 equity-free cash infusion.

Here’s the good news: There’s still time for you to be an exhibitor at Disrupt Berlin 2019 — and have a shot at competing in Startup Battlefield. Simply buy a Startup Alley Exhibitor Package and you’re good to go.

Here’s even better news. Exhibiting in Startup Alley holds tremendous potential to move your business forward — whether you get the Wild Card or not.

This is how David Hall, co-founder of Park & Diamond, describes his experience in Startup Alley.

“Exhibiting in Startup Alley was a game-changer for us. We received insight on our product development process, and we got to engage with media and potential investors. The chance to have those discussions and to potentially form relationships was invaluable.”

The opportunity that is Disrupt Berlin 2019 takes place on 11-12 December. Make the most of that opportunity — exhibit in Startup Alley and take your shot at the Wild Card and Startup Battlefield. We’ll see you in Berlin!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Only four days left to buy early-bird passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019

By Leslie Hitchcock

Last week, we extended the early-bird pricing on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019 until 15 November at 11:59 p.m. (CEST). Consider it distinctly non-divine intervention from Expeditus, the patron saint of procrastinators (and speedy causes). The countdown continues, and you have just four days left to save serious dough — we’re talking up to €500 depending on the type of pass you purchase.

No matter what role you play in the startup world, you’ll find tremendous value at Disrupt Berlin. Add even more value — buy an early-bird pass to Disrupt Berlin before the early bird flies away for good on 15 November at 11:59 p.m. (CEST).

Disrupt Berlin draws attendees from more than 50 countries across Europe and beyond, making it an international celebration of all things startup. This is the place to see the latest tech from innovative early-stage startups, and you’ll find hundreds of them exhibiting in Startup Alley. Don’t miss the Country Pavilions where you’ll find delegations from different countries showcasing the best of their up-and-coming startups.

You’ll also find TC Top Picks exhibiting in Startup Alley. Our editors selected up to five startups they feel represent the most interesting use of technology in the following categories: AI/Machine Learning, Biotech/Healthtech, Blockchain, Fintech, Mobility, Privacy/Security, Retail/E-commerce, Robotics/IoT/Hardware, CRM/Enterprise and Education. Come to meet, greet and network with the founders who earned the coveted Top Pick designation.

With so many exhibiting startups to see, not to mention all the founders, investors and technologists roaming around the Berlin Arena, how can you cut through the noise to find the people who align with your business goals and interests? Use CrunchMatch, our free business-matchmaking tool that slays the old needle-in-a-haystack approach to networking.

We’ll email all registered attendees when we launch CrunchMatch, and we’ll explain how to access the platform. You then create a professional profile outlining your role and the specific types of people and connections you want to make.  CrunchMatch will find and suggest matches and — with your approval — suggest meetings, send out meeting requests and schedule appointments. Closing the deal? That’s up to you.

Beyond all the networking opportunities, you’ll have the chance to learn from and engage with tech and investing experts and icons. Hear from world-class speakers, attend smaller Q&A Sessions where you have the chance to get your pressing questions answered, watch the Startup Battlefield and don’t miss the Hackathon finalists pitch on the Extra Crunch Stage. Check out the Disrupt Berlin agenda.

Join us on 11-12 December for all the value and opportunity Disrupt Berlin 2019 offers. And remember, you have just four more days to grab all the value you can. Channel Saint Expeditus and beat the deadline. Buy your early-bird pass before 15 November at 11:59 p.m. (CEST). We’ll see you in Berlin!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Introducing the TC Top Picks for Disrupt Berlin 2019

By Leslie Hitchcock

Can we get a fanfare of trumpets, please? The time has come to introduce you to our TC Top Picks for Disrupt Berlin 2019. The ingenuity and creativity reflected in the international startup community can’t be overstated, and narrowing the field from the hundreds of applications we received was no easy task.

The program showcases outstanding early-stage startups across these categories: AI/Machine Learning, Biotech/Healthtech, Blockchain, Fintech, Mobility, Privacy/Security, Retail/E-commerce, Robotics/IoT/Hardware, CRM/Enterprise and Education.

Challenging as it was, TechCrunch editors had a (wicked fun) job to do — select up to five early-stage startups they felt represent the best of their specific tech category. This remarkable cadre of early-stage startups knocked our proverbial socks off. Cold toes notwithstanding, we think you’ll be equally impressed.

Founders who earn the TC Top Picks designation receive a free Startup Alley Exhibitor Package, one full day of exhibiting, three free Founder passes, intense investor and media interest and VIP treatment — including an interview on the Showcase Stage with a TechCrunch editor. And we promote that video across our social media platforms.

Alright, it’s time for the big reveal. Congratulations to the TC Top Picks for Disrupt Berlin 2019!

Artificial Intelligence + Machine Learning

  • Apostera: An automotive company offering a set of innovative products world-wide.
  • CYANITE: Music analysis tool — the interface between the music industry, data science and software engineering.
  • Prodsight: Helps companies make data-driven product development decisions.
  • Stormly: An AI-powered platform that works as a data consultant.
  • Timekettle Technologies: Committed to building a global brand of AI translator so immersive that it disappears into the experience.

Biotech + Healthtech

  • Glazomer: An affordable Hi-End Eye Tracking system for professional academic and clinical research.
  • Healthy Quit: Digital health company and a pharmacy that provides vaping and smoking cessation by utilizing an artificial intelligent treatment algorithm and medications to help patients quit.
  • mettleAI: Leveraging ML/AI to predict substance abuse relapse before it happens.
  • Thryve: We power the individualization of health care by providing the API needed by health services to access health data from more than 100 wearables.
  • Volta Medical: Aims at developing a wide range of intelligent software solutions designed to guide cardiologists during interventional procedures.

Blockchain

  • Acatena AG: IoT & Blockchain platform to reinvent premium product authenticity.
  • Anytype: An operating system for the new internet.
  • etoshi: The all-in-one crypto platform: trading, wallets and taxes under one roof!
  • SIMBA Chain: A cloud-based, smart-contract-as-a-service (SCaaS) platform, enabling users across a variety of skill sets to implement dapps (decentralized applications).

CRM + Enterprise

  • Cumul.io: A cloud analytics platform for business experts & SaaS companies to integrate intuitive yet powerful data visualization into their daily lives.
  • cux.io: Your one-stop shop for understanding your users’ experiences online.
  • Radicalbit: Event stream processing self-service platform. One platform for data engineering, data ops & MLOps on top of Kafka.
  • Stack: Internet launchpad, increasing the efficiency of working with the web for the average internet users by allowing simultaneous use of multiple web-apps within a neatly organized working environment.
  • Usercentrics: A CMP that helps enterprise customers obtain, manage and document the user consent, with all different aspects of consent storage, consent API’s, consent in ad tech.

Fintech

  • ChromaWay: Blockchain “2.0” platform that enables smart contracts and digital assets for financial applications and non-financial applications.
  • CurioInvest: A technology platform that lets anyone invest directly in rare alternative assets.
  • Raison: A platform for operations with investments and personal finance.
  • TXC Markets: Peer to peer fintech trading technologies and marketplaces for illiquid and alternative assets.

Mobility + Transportation

  • DUCKT: The world’s first universal electrical scooter charging station. Better operations, better experience for people & the city.
  • MachineMax: Used to track utilisation, idling, fuel and geolocation for any machine.
  • Pixmoving: Provides universal autonomous driving chassis.
  • Qibus: Making autonomous mobility a reality.
  • TRAXIT: Tracking multi service company changing the way we track our belongings, starting from Aviation vertical.

Privacy + Security

  • Nect: Delivers the self-service future of identity verification as a service — easy to use and with military-grade security.
  • o.vision: Develops facial identification solutions for integration within smart office frameworks and commercial bank security systems.
  • Sypher Solutions: Software platform that simplifies analysis and helps prevent mistakes when documenting and maintaining GDPR compliance.
  • Wire: The most secure collaboration platform, transforming the way business’ communicate in the same way and speed that our founders disrupted telephony with Skype.

Retail + E-commerce

  • combyne: A social tool for combining clothing. Our vision is to digitize the usage of fashion.
  • Fashwire: A global data-driven marketplace with 200+ fashion designers from 25+ countries.
  • Squareshot: We help consumer, fashion and dnvb brands streamline content production and create beautiful product shots to maximize their online sales.

Robotics + Hardware + IoT

  • Aether Biomedical: A rehabilitation robotics startup focused on building bionic limbs for upper limb amputees.
  • Domotron: The most advanced smart home that adapts to your lifestyle. To make your life easier.
  • Infocode: Smart building solution company that provides smart waste bin for office and public spaces.
  • RoboChef: World’s first fully automated robotic kitchen cooking 500+ recipes with ZERO manual effort powered by IoT, Robotics & AI.

Disrupt Berlin 2019 takes place on 11-12 December. Buy your pass today and be sure to swing by Startup Alley to meet and greet the TC Top Picks. One more thing. It’s not too late to buy a Startup Alley Exhibitor Package and strut your stuff alongside hundreds of companies and sponsors. All exhibiting startups have a shot at winning the Wild Card to compete for $50,000 in our famous pitch competition, Startup Battlefield. What have you got to lose? Nuthin!

Join Jeremy Johnson from Andela at Disrupt Berlin

By Romain Dillet

Over the past few years, Andela has built a simple yet powerful answer to the talent shortage in Silicon Valley and other overheating tech ecosystems. The company helps you hire some of the most talented software developers in a handful of African cities. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Andela co-founder and CEO Jeremy Johnson is joining us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

Andela’s basic premise is that expertise is evenly distributed across the globe. And yet, the biggest tech companies are concentrated in a few places. More and more companies are now open to hiring remote employees, and Andela is taking advantage of that.

The company makes it easy to find software engineers in no time. It screens applications and selects the best software engineers that can develop in JavaScript (React.js, Angular.js), Python, Ruby, PHP and for the Android platform.

So far, 130,000 people have applied and Andela only accepted the top 1,000 engineers. The startup then tries to match your company with the best candidates for the job in order to facilitate onboarding. After that, you have a new team member.

With offices in Lagos, Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali, New York, San Francisco and Austin, Andela is trying to create a bridge between some of the most active tech communities in Africa and U.S.-based startups.

This isn’t Jeremy Johnson’s first startup. The young entrepreneur previously co-founded 2U, a software solution that helps schools and universities provide online degree programs. The company went public in 2014.

Buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion — and many others. The conference will take place December 11-12.

In addition to panels and fireside chats, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield to compete for the highly coveted Battlefield Cup.

Jeremy Johnson is the CEO and Co-Founder of Andela, a company that builds high-performing, distributed engineering teams with Africa’s most talented software developers. Founded on the premise that brilliance is evenly distributed, Andela is solving the global technical talent shortage while catalyzing the growth of tech ecosystems on the African continent.

Prior to founding Andela, Jeremy co-founded 2U, one of the fastest growing education technology startups to date. 2U went public in 2014 (NASDAQ:TWOU) and continues to transform higher education by delivering the world’s best online degree programs with top tier universities.

Jeremy is recognized broadly for his work as an education innovator. He has spoken on education and entrepreneurship at meetings hosted by the White House and Congress. His speaking appearances include conferences and college campuses around the world as well as media outlets like NBC, ABC, FOX, and CNBC. Jeremy was named “30 Under 30” by Inc. Magazine in 2012 and Forbes in 2013 and 2014.

Outside of Andela, Jeremy serves on the board of the Young Entrepreneur Council and the education non-profit PENCIL and co-authored a book for the World Economic Forum: ‘Education & Skills 2.0: New Targets & Innovative Approaches.’

Extension on early-bird sale to Disrupt Berlin 2019

By Leslie Hitchcock

We won’t bury the lead on this news, startup fans. We’re giving all you professional procrastinators and time-delayed decision makers an extra week to pull yourselves together and score early-bird savings on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019 (11-12 December).

Early-bird pricing remains in play until 15 November at 11:59 p.m. (CEST). Don’t let this last-chance clock run out. Beat the deadline, buy an early-bird pass to Disrupt Berlin and keep up to €500 in your wallet.

One of the many awesome aspects of Disrupt is the opportunity to learn from a range of experts in the startup community. Here are just three examples of the knowledge you can absorb at Disrupt. Want more? Check out the full event agenda.

Series A financing is a tricky beast and one of the hardest deals to close. If this hot topic speaks to you, don’t miss this panel discussion going down on the Extra Crunch Stage.

What does it take to raise a Series A with Jessica Holzbach (founder, Penta) and Louise Samet (partner, Blossom Capital). Venture capital funds have boomed this decade, but raising money is still hard for young companies. What are investors today looking for in teams, metrics and products?

Climate change is arguably the biggest issue of our time. Learn how one founder turned sustainability into her business.

How to Build Sustainability as a Business with Benjamina Bollag (founder, CEO, Higher Steaks). As climate change and the impacts of a warming world become more important for the consumers who are exposed to it, hear from a developer of lab grown meat and others on how to build sustainability as a business.

Who wouldn’t love a crystal ball to divine investment trends for the coming year? We have the next best thing — minus the hocus pocus.

Investing in 2020 with Carolina Brochado (investment director, Softbank Vision Fund) and Tom Hulme (general partner, GV). Nothing changes quite as rapidly as investment trends. Brochado and Hulme will offer perspectives from their experience both on the ground in Europe and from 50,000 feet to talk about what 2020 has in store for startups.

There’s plenty more knowledge and opportunity packed into two short days. Don’t miss the Startup Battlefield pitch competition. Be there as 15-20 stellar startups vie for the Disrupt Cup, investor love, media attention and the $50,000 prize.

Looking for skilled coders to help bring your vision to life? Head to the Extra Crunch stage and watch the Hackathon finalists pitch working products they designed and built in 24 pressure-filled hours. Who will win the $5,000 prize for best overall hack?

Disrupt Berlin 2019 takes place on 11-12 December. This is it — one extra week. You have until 15 November at 11:59 (CEST) an extra week to buy an early-bird pass to Disrupt Berlin. Get ‘er done!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Prices increase tonight: Buy Disrupt Berlin 2019 early-bird passes now

By Leslie Hitchcock

We get it. You’re deep in the weeds starting your startup, building your business, expanding your empire. Startuppers are frequently overworked, prone to procrastination and last-minute decision making.

We’re here to tell you today’s the last day you can score early-bird savings to Disrupt Berlin 2019. The earlybird deadline ends tonight at 11:59 p.m. (CEST). Don’t pay more than necessary. Beat the deadline, and buy your early-bird pass to Disrupt Berlin right now.

As usual, we have a great lineup of speakers, and you’ll learn from the best at Disrupt. Here are just a few examples of what’s on tap. For more details, go study the Disrupt Berlin 2019 agenda.

Growing from a humble garage project into a global competitor may be possible… but easy? Not so much. Learn the fine art of scaling your startup from a panel of experts who’ve been to the mountaintop. You’ll hear from Holger Seim, founder and CEO of Blinkist; Karoli Hindriks, founder and CEO of Jobbatical; and Sophie Alcorn, founding partner of Alcorn Immigration Law.

Brexit — the mere word strikes uncertainty in the hearts of U.K. and European startups. Talk about jangled nerves. We’ll hear three experts discuss decision-making in the face of Brexit’s chaotic landscape. Investor Bindi Karia, founder Glenn Shoosmith and VC Volker Hirsch offer their unique perspectives on how to make the right decisions in the face of these obstacles.

If you’re into rapidly changing landscapes, don’t miss eToro’s Yoni Assia and Charlie Delingpole of ComplyAdvantage as they talk fintech. You’ll hear lessons they learned along the way and how today’s startups can change the future of finance.

Hiroki Takeuchi, GoCardless co-founder, CEO and fintech expert, has led the eight-year-old company to the point where it has a shot at becoming a global leader in direct debit payments. He’ll join us to talk about resilience and why he sees a big opportunity for B2B use cases.

There’s so much more to take in at Disrupt Berlin. What happens when you mix creativity and raw talent and then subject it to intense pressure? Head on over to the Extra Crunch Stage to watch the Hackathon finalists pitch products they designed, coded and created in 24 hours. Who will win the individual sponsored challenges and who will win $5,000 from TechCrunch editors for best overall hack?

Disrupt Berlin 2019 takes place on 11-12 December, and you have just a few hours left to take advantage of early-bird pricing. Buy your early-bird pass before 11:59 p.m. (CEST) tonight and save up to €500.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Learn how to raise your Series A at Disrupt Berlin

By Kate Clark

There are more seed funds than ever helping business get off the ground but the Series A financing continues to be one of the toughest deals to close.

Not only will we welcome early-stage investors to teach entrepreneurs how to raise their first round of venture capital, we will have a group of investors intimately familiar with the Series A on deck at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin this December to offer their best tips and tricks.

Joining us on stage is Blossom Capital partner Louise Samet and Penta founder Jessica Holzbach.

Samet, for her part, joined Blossom Capital, a new European venture capital fund focused on leading Series A investments, earlier this year. Based in Stockholm, Samet’s career includes years of angel investig with standout bets including LendingHome, Bloomcredit and Stravito. Blossom portfolio companies include Duffel, Frontify, Fat Llama, Sqreen and Checkout.com. Before Blossom, Samet was the director of technical sales at Klarna, a high profile European fintech startup.

Finally, Holzbach, who leads the digital only banking platform for SMEs, Penta, has spent her career founding startups and working as a management consultant, supervising various CRM projects for financial institutions and insurance companies. Penta, where she is currently CCO, has raised millions in venture capital funding, including a €7 million Series A last year. She can speak to the process of securing funding and the challenges she faced as a founder.

Join us at Disrupt Berlin, running December 11 and December 12, to hear more from these experts on how to secure one of the most influential funding rounds in a company’s lifespan. Tickets to the show are available here!

Only 4 days left for early-bird savings on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019

By Leslie Hitchcock

The countdown to serious savings continues here at TechCrunch, and this is a timely reminder that you have only four days left to save on early-bird passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019 (11-12 December). Kommst du nun, oder was — you are coming, aren’t you?

Pricing starts at €445 + VAT and, depending on which pass you buy, you can save as much as €500. Das ist gut! If you want to reap the savings, you need to buy your early-bird pass before the deadline: 8 November at 11:59 p.m. (CEST)

Let’s talk about some of the reasons so many people attend Disrupt Berlin. It’s an opportunity to connect with and learn from an international community of early-stage startuppers — founders, investors, engineers, marketers and more. Be inspired by both your contemporaries and by the folks who’ve paved the way, achieved success and want to share their insights.

Don’t take our (admittedly biased) word for it. Here’s what some of your peers have to say about their time at Disrupt:

  • “Disrupt Berlin was a massively positive experience. It gave us the chance to show our technology to the world and have meaningful conversations with investors, accelerators, incubators, solo founders and developers.” —  Vlad Larin, co-founder of Zeroqode.
  • “I was very pleasantly surprised at the number of early-stage startups in attendance. Disrupt is a very good conference, and you’ll make a lot of connections very quickly that you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.” — Michael Kocan, co-found and managing partner, Trend Discovery.
  • “Disrupt helps you connect with the startup community. You can meet investors and bigger players in your industry to see if there’s an opportunity to work together. TechCrunch Disrupt is unique and incredibly valuable, because it brings everyone — all the industry touch points — together under one roof.” — Sage Wohns, co-founder, Agolo.

Get ready to hear from a stellar group of speakers on both the Main and Extra Crunch stages — or in our Q&A Sessions. Start planning now by perusing the Disrupt Berlin agenda, and don’t be surprised if we add a few more surprise speakers to it in the coming weeks.

You certainly won’t want to miss out on Startup Battlefield, our thrilling pitch competition with a $50,000 prize. And be sure to catch the Hackathon finalists on the Extra Crunch stage as they pitch products they designed, coded and created in roughly 24 hours. Who will win the $5,000 prize for best overall hack?

Disrupt Berlin 2019 takes place on 11-12 December, but you have only four days left to take advantage of early-bird pricing. Beat the deadline — 8 November at 11:59 p.m. (CEST) deadline, buy your passes and save up to €500. Kommst du nun, oder was — you are coming, aren’t you?

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Founder of language learning platform Babbel steps down as co-CEO to focus on board role

By Frederic Lardinois

Babbel, the popular Berlin-based language learning service, today announced that its founder and current co-CEO Markus Witte is stepping down from his CEO role but that he will remain the executive chairman of the company’s board. The company’s current co-CEO Arne Schepker will become Babbel’s sole CEO.

In addition to these leadership changes, the company also today announced that it has appointed Katherine Melchior Ray, who held previous executive positions with luxury consumer brands like Japan’s Shiseido, Hyatt Hotels, Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, as its new Chief Marketing Officer.

All of these changes come as Babbel ends as Babbel hits 100 million Euro in revenue for its 2018 financial year.

As Witte and Schepker told me in an interview ahead of today’s official announcement, there were a few reasons why the team decided that this would be the best way forward. And while it’s unusual for U.S. founders to step back from their CEO role, especially as a company is hitting a new growth phase, Witter argues that going forward, being the chairman of the board will put him in the best position to ensure the company’s future going forward.

“Being CEO and chairman of the board has pros and cons,” Witte told me. “To say that the founder and chairman are one and the same person, that’s the West Coast model — and every now and then, that has its advantages. But it’s not what people would consider good governance in Europe and at times, it makes things harder because it creates a conflict of interest in board meetings.”

Those conflicts, Witte argues, made him less effective in the chairman role and in addition, he believes that Babbel has now reached a point where chairman and CEO just can’t be the same person anymore. And so he decided that if he had to choose, he’d stay as chairman of the board because that’s the role where he can ensure that Babbel remains true to its mission.

He also admitted that as the company grew, the workload became a bit too much. “CEOs like to overestimate themselves and I’m no exception,” said Witte. “But you get to the point where you have to say: I can’t fill all of these roles anymore.”

With Schepker, Babbel had brought on an outsider as CMO a few years ago who proved himself in the co-CEO role and was, in Witte’s view, ready for the CEO role, making his decision easier.

Schepker tells me that the company doesn’t plan to change its overall strategy going forward. “We have a clear strategy and we plan to implement that even faster — but that’s independent of these leadership change,” he told me. “The focus is on how we can create more value for our customers, our learners, by looking at how we can better guide them through their personal learning journey. The problem that most learners face is that, unless they studied it in college, they never learned how to effectively learn a new language.”

In practical terms, this means that Babbel will look at expanding the range of language learning opportunities for its users to better guide them through their learning experience (and for longer).

Final week to score early bird passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019

By Leslie Hitchcock

Heads up, startuppers. We’ve entered the final week of early bird pricing on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2019. Place your procrastination on hold, because the deadline to save as much as €500 comes to an abrupt halt on 8 November at 11:59 p.m. (CEST). Do yourself a saver-favor and buy your early-bird pass to Disrupt Berlin today.

We have two days packed with startup goodness waiting for you, and that includes our slate of speakers from every part of the early-stage startup ecosystem. Whether you want to learn more about raising funds, telling your startup story or learning more about advanced tech trends we’ve got you covered.

Here’s just a quick sample of the great speakers and discussions we have on tap. Check out the Disrupt Berlin agenda to find even more awesome topics and events.

What does it take to raise a Series A: Venture capital funds have boomed this decade, but raising money is still hard for young companies. Join us as Suranga Chandratillake (Balderton Capital), Jessica Holzbach (Penta) and Louise Dahlborn Samet (Blossom Capital) discuss what today’s investors look for in teams, metrics and products.

How to Win Customers and Influence Markets: Every startup is a story and the best stories can change the world. Three of Europe’s finest alchemists of allusion — Colette Ballou (Ballou PR), Joanna Kirk, (Joanna Kirk PR) and Katy Turner (Multiple) — will share their tips on how to be a signal in a world of noise.

Are We There Yet? Inside the Tech that Will Help AVs be Better Chauffeurs: Clare Jones, chief commercial officer of What3Words, will talk about the role of mapping and geolocation in autonomous vehicles and how this tech is already rolling out in human driven cars.

You certainly don’t want to miss the Startup Battlefield. This life-changing pitch competition has launched 857 startups that have gone on to collectively raise nearly $9 billion. Companies like Vurb, TripIt, Dropbox, Mint and more. Come and cheer on this year’s cohort and see who takes home the Disrupt Cup and the $50,000 prize. Who knows, you may see a unicorn in the making.

That’s the tip of the proverbial startup iceberg, folks. Disrupt Berlin offers so many ways to move your business to the next level, and you may as well save as much money as you can doing it?

You have one last week to grab your wallet, beat the deadline and save. Buy your early-bird pass to Disrupt Berlin before 8 November at 11:59 p.m. (CEST). We’ll see you in Berlin, baby!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

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