Sep 09

Cradle-to-Cradle Design

Kürzlich habe ich das Buch “Cradle-to-Cradle” gelesen, das international ein Bestseller ist. Brad Pitt wurde zitiert mit “eines der drei wichtigsten Bücher, die ich gelesen habe”.

Michael Braungart tritt engagiert gegen die Verzichtsethik der deutschen Nachhaltigkeitsbewegung auf. Er setzt gegen das existierende Paradigma der Öko-Effizienz (“weniger Schadstoffe, weniger Ressourcen, weniger Menschen”) ein völlig neues Paradigma, das der Öko-Effektivität: Gebraucht, produziert, aber die richtigen Dinge!

Braungart tritt laufend öffentlich auf, provoziert gern.

Michael Braungart: Why Less Bad Isn’t Better? from The DO Lectures on Vimeo.

Mir scheint, Michael Braungart ist international deutlich bekannter als in Deutschland. Mich beeindruckt besonders: Er tut was und redet nicht nur darüber. Und er weiss viel. Er hat Philips,Trigema, Unilever und Henry Miller beraten und mit ihnen Produkte entwickelt, die nicht nur weniger, sondern keine Schadstoffe enthalten. Flugzeugsitze, die man essen könnte, theoretisch zumindest. T-Shirts, die wirklich kompostierbar sind.

In der Taz findet sich ein sehr guter Beitrag über Braungart. Hier kommen auch Kritiker zu Wort.

Man kann die Diskussion so zusammenfassen:

Weniger Schadstoffe sind besser als viele Schadstoffe, sagen die Nachhaltigkeits-Vertreter. Das geht Braungart nicht weit genug – ich finde “weniger Schadstoffe” dennoch einen richtigen Schritt auf dem Weg.

Braungart setzt dagegen: Mit etwas mehr Nachdenken gar keine Schadstoffe zu produzieren, sondern wirklich in Kreisläufen zu denken, und das ist meines Erachtens mehr als ein Utopie, sondern das einzig sinnvolle Ziel.

Feb 09

Business ideas that excite me.

Finally getting to talk to people again. Discussing ideas, market developments, the underlying trends, barriers to entry, business areas worth disrupting and all these things just plain fun for me.

I will get bored eventually as I prefer to do things instead of talking about doing things, but for the moment I enjoy the conversation. Most of it, at least. People have been trying to drag me into their ventures and ideas and a surprising number of people, even good friends, have pitched business ideas and concepts that are just not for me.

So, here is what I find interesting:

(1) Businesses that make life easier for everyone

When I started working on  TravelChannel in 1998, I wanted to make it easier to book flights. We build the first engine that could compare flights in two totally different pricing mechanisms – the official IATA tarrifs and the so called grey market in one go, enabling people to find the cheapest flight.
Qype was started from  a similar starting point: If everyone starts telling everyone about their experience in restaurants, butcher shops or dentists, then there will be less bad experiences.

Bigger examples that fit this category. Google, Flickr, Facebook, you name it.

(2) Business that make markets more efficient and disrupt the status quo
The fun being involved in DocMorris, Europe’s largest mail oder pharmacy that delivers prescription drugs and allowes people to save was that it worked against the existing distribution structure with it’s extremely high cost to the public.
Qype also is ideally positioned to challenge existing near-monopolies like the yellow pages in each market to give local businesses more efficient advertising.
Other examples that make markets more efficient: Ebay, of course. But also craigslist, hitflip , nestoria and many others.

(3) Businesses that help us to reduce emissions
Together most other people on this planet, I am convinced that we are in a massive climate crises ,  and that mainly our carbon emissions are at a suicidal level.
I am therefore  – like many other entrepreneurs I know – particularly interested in businesses that help us reduce our carbon emissions. This is where I do most my research at the moment.
So I will try to combine my background – a degree as mechanical engineer –  with my experience in business-to-consumer internet and starting up companies.
Here I am not alone. Look at people like John Doerr, Shai Agassi, the Google guys with google.org – lot’s of inspiring examples.

In summary: Useful, disruptive, saving the environment. These are the discussions I enjoy and the businesses I will get involved in.

Feb 08



I found this on a bottle of Pret Orange Juice.

In case you can’t see the image: ‘We believe air freighting fruit and veg is completely over the top. It’s unnecessary and with the exception of fresh basil leaves, we don’t do it.’ – I hope this attitude catches on.

Oct 07


Just received a nasty comment (anonymous) about unnecessary air travel to conferences. This exactly the point. I have not yet been to great conferences like reboot, SIME, leWeb, Picnic. But the few successful conferences I have attended just demonstrate the point that you can not replicate the experience via video conferencing. In fact, I need to attend more conferences. Meeting great people is too important.

As I have said before in this blog: I do not drive an SUV, we are not using much energy at home. But I will stop feeling guilty about travelling to meet great people.

Oct 07

Nearly forgotten: Turboprop planes

Even the smallest regional commuter planes now come as jet. I recently had the pleasure to fly with a Dash 8 Q300. Did you know that the fuel consumption per passenger kilometer is considerably lower than on a comparable jet plane?
Also, as these planes cruise at a lower altitude, I assume that the additional effect of emissions at high altitude will be lower.
Propeller planes have two disadvantages: Their maximum speed is only about 500 km /hr as opposed to 900 km / hr for jets. However, for anything under a distance of 1,5 hrs this amounts to only about 10% more travel time. The other disadvantage is the higher level of cabin noise. Guess what: with the latest in Noise cancelling headphones, this does not matter.