Silicon Valley vibes in Berlin Mitte
Wire is one of the most discreet and secure messenger services in the world. It is developed and operated from the Hackesche Höfe.
Anyone who wants to communicate with other people via the Internet or mobile phone has to be careful about their data security, says Alan Duric, CEO and founder of Wire. Duric founded the company, which today operates one of the world's most secure messenger services, in 2013 with Jonathan Christensen. They were backed by Skype founder Janus Friis.
Since then, Wire has had a presence in Hackesche Höfe – and has remained loyal to this central location. "Here we are in a great environment – and fit in quite well, because, with all due modesty, I would like to call us a cool company," says Alan Duric. "We looked at what felt like a hundred offices at the time, including some very cool ones. But most were still under construction or not immediately available. We then came across Hackesche Höfe and gradually rented space."
The vibe of the Spandauer Vorstadt
What fascinated Duric from the start was the vibe of the Spandauer Vorstadt. The whole neighborhood reminded him of Oslo's modernized harbor district Arte Brygge – where he had worked for a long time and founded his previous start-up. However, Oslo was a place with limited appeal for professionals from around the world. "I always invited new applicants for interviews in the summer, and then they signed on. But it's always difficult in the fall and winter," says Duric.
An international City
In the Hackesche Höfe, on the other hand, he had no trouble finding new employees. "There was a creative vibe in the air, many start-ups were present here," Duric recalls. In addition, Berlin is a very international city: "Anyone who can speak English can get around," says Duric. People from 25 nations work for Wire in Berlin. Today, when he looks for new employees, he invites them to Berlin for an interview on Friday and lets them spend a weekend here. "Over the weekend, they fall in love with the city," Duric knows. Today, 55 of the 110 employees worldwide work on Rosenthaler Straße.
Besides that, other aspects also play a role. The central location, for example. Many long-distance commuters come to the headquarters in Berlin every two weeks – so smooth transfers to and from the airport are important. For local employees, on the other hand, good connections to the S-Bahn, U-Bahn and streetcar systems are just as important as accessibility by bike. "If you work late in the evening, the neighborhood around Hackesche Höfe is ideal because there's always something going on," says Duric.
The proximity to politics
The proximity is convenient for big customers like the federal government. Especially with short-term problems, it can be important to be on site. "I prefer to send our employees to the customer. First, it's faster; second, it's a good signal toward the customer; and third,, our people get to know the customer in turn and are more engaged if they know whom they're working for," Duric says.
Awareness of data privacy and cybersecurity in Europe were also reasons Wire moved to Europe in 2013 rather than the US or Silicon Valley. "Here in Europe, values related to data protection have always been important," Duric noted. "And in Germany, there is now a stronger awareness of data privacy and security than in other countries."
Meeting people is important
But why even have an office in the middle of Germany, in the middle of a big city? Wire has supported remote working for some time now. But still, the urge to regularly get together remains. "I'm a bit old school," Duric says. "I think in a company like Wire, you have to meet in person. And it helps the corporate identity when our employees work together in one place. I think that's becoming more and more important."