Die Startup-Szene

SoundCloud Is Now the Poster Child for Berlin’s Startup Scene

Mr. Wahlforss, left; Mr. Ljung, right.

Wilkommen! This is part two of Betabeat’s new mini-series, Die Startup-Szene, a peek at the up-and-coming tech hub of Berlin, Germany. We sat down with entrepreneurs from three leading young companies here in the city that is only very, very occasionally referred to as Silicon Allee.

SoundCloud is many things: near-infinite audio hosting platform, sweet dubstep remix discovery site, and recording app; its founders believe they are adding the dimension of sound to a too-quiet web. “Sound as a sense and as a medium is missing on the web,” spectacled cofounder Alex Ljung told Betabeat. Berlin DJs and clubs are quite taken with SoundCloud; browse events on beatguide.me, for example, and every music listing is dotted with cloud icons. Ask a Berlin entrepreneur which startups to pay attention to, and SoundCloud is the first name off their tongue. So when Betabeat started planning a trip to Berlin, we knew there was one stop we’d have to make. We wanted to see where the aural magic was made. And we wanted a t-shirt.

Betabeat met the founders of SoundCloud at an afternoon rendesvous in the Janis Joplin conference room, which contained a bright orange beanbag on which Mr. Ljung was reclining as well as a Rubrik’s cube the size of a dog. For a music startup, SoundCloud’s office decor is surprisingly verbose; quotes printed on letter paper were taped up in a line around the walls: “Objectivity is the view from nowhere,” attributed to the philosopher Thomas Nagel; “The violent and righteous are hard of hearing,” attributed to German writer Gunter Grass. One conference room was called “T.S. Eliot,” because Mr. Ljung likes T.S. Eliot. Of course, a poster of Kurt Cobain watches over the adjacent office bullpen. Read More