The following is excerpted from Spiegel Online:
SPIEGEL: Facebook is only eight years old, has annual revenues of $3.7 billion and, following its stock market debut, could be worth $100 billion. Is that normal?
[Co-founder of German business software giant SAP, Hasso] Plattner: Oh God, normal!? That’s just what America is like. They’re unbeatable when it comes to advertising. Don’t ask me if I think it’s a good thing …
SPIEGEL: Well, do you think it’s a good thing?
Plattner: You’re bombarded with advertising all day long there. But that’s just how it works. You really have to take your hat off to the Americans — the way they reinvent themselves again and again, especially in the high-tech sector.
SPIEGEL: But that could also be possible in Germany.
Plattner: A lot of the framework conditions are not right here. For instance, it’s much more difficult to obtain venture capital. But you need that so your company can quickly achieve a critical size. And anyone who follows all the daily debates in Germany that are critical of capitalism and growth could come to the conclusion that we Germans don’t want to be successful anymore.
Plattner: …it’s really only in Germany that I’m asked time and again such strange things like: Why growth? Or: Why does the database have to be so much faster? That just creates stress … And that, even though for the past 40 years IT has been almost exclusively about the question of speed. Americans are much more open and bolder in this respect. Their attitude has also long since been adopted by the Indians and the Chinese, which makes the competition even more difficult for us.
We, the people, have to take care, also, or we’re no better at governance than a top-down governance in China. At least, though, we can correct our own mistakes.