A better ecosystem for founders

Lars Klingbeil, General Secretary of the Social Democrats, about the upsetting lack of an effective political framework for founders

Our democracy is at stake.

This is why today we are publishing a special edition of our Bits & Pretzels podcast. We are meeting up with Lars Klingbeil, the General Secretary of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) which is part of the ruling coalition in Germany, at the Social Democrat’s headquarters in Berlin.

We talked about the ongoing political crisis in the German government after last week a liberal state premier was elected into office with the votes from the far-right “Alternative for Germany”, which is basically the neo-Nazi party of today. The AfD is opposed to non-European immigration, which it perceives as the "Islamization" of Germany, and is also opposed to reforms that tackle climate change.

The pact with the far-right in Thuringia since then rattles German politics and has sparked an outcry across the whole country. And it also caused serious damage to the reputation of the traditional political parties with their ineffective crisis management and lack of vision for the future – including his own party, the Social democrats – as SPD's General Secretary Lars Klingbeil admits in our podcast conversation:

"The real disaster is that no party is really able to tell people where we are heading within the next 20 years."

But we also challenge Lars about the upsetting lack of a truly effective political framework for a thriving ecosystem for founders in Germany. He argues that the founder stories in Germany should actually be valued much more highly and should be idealized much more strongly:

"Germans admire Mark Zuckerberg as a great founder, but they don't look at the people in their own country. And if our founders get attention all they get is being mocked.”

He also demands that entrepreneurs and innovators themselves should become more involved into political debates.

Lars Klingbeil's specifically frustrated with the way German parliament handles new innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence:

"We keep talking about it until somehow an innovation comes out of the USA, and then we give away our health data anyways (...) Why does this innovation not come from Germany? It's annoying me too."

Because of the special circumstances of the ongoing political crisis in Germany, we’re having our conversation in German. Our non-German speaking listeners can find a detailed English summary of the core statements in our show notes.

2:03 Lars Klingbeil vs. Fascism
6:40 Hard times for Democracy
9:59 Germany: No Country for Founders
16:00 The German Mark Zuckerberg
20:48 Beergarden Break: HercuLars Klingbeil
25:19 Home, sweet not connected Home
28:57 Work hard - until the Robot replaces you
34:52 Either-or-Game: Schröder, Pretzel, Tesla

Production: Regina Körner, Migo Fricke, Hubert Honold. Design: Christian Lohmeier.