Global cities from Seoul to Tel Aviv have welcomed Google with
open arms, but in the bohemian Berlin district of Kreuzberg the
Silicon Valley giant has found itself on the frontlines of
gentrification trench warfare.
AFP / by Daphne ROUSSEAU | Activists in Kreuzberg are pulling no
punches in their battle against Google
Its new Berlin hub now in the making 3,000 square metres (32,000
square feet) hosting offices, a cafe and a coworking space in a
once-derelict industrial building is set to be the latest outpost
of California startup culture in Europe.
But a campaign dubbed Fuck Off Google has begun organising
monthly demonstrations at the site of the companys future campus,
set to open later this year.
The blunt slogan has been daubed atop the layers of posters and
graffiti that cover all available public wall space in artsy,
multicultural and left-leaning Kreuzberg and adorns the bridges
along its tree-shaded canal.
Its extremely violent and arrogant of this mega-corporation,
whose business model is based on mass surveillance and which
speculates like crazy, to set up shop here, fumed a hacker and
protest leader who asked to be identified only by his alias Larry
With hip Berlin drawing ever more people, and apartment prices
steadily rising, gentrification is gathering pace and loads of
people are already being thrown out of once working-class
Kreuzberg, he charged.
Battery farm for ideas
In fact, Berlin is no stranger to tech culture, and many IT
newcomers lure programmers with offers of free beers, snacks or
massages at the office and hierarchy-free leadership
The citys Silicon Allee (Silicon Avenue) companies now make it
one of Europes top destinations for investment into startups,
beating London and Paris to the post last year with 3.1 billion
euros ($3.6 billion) in capital raised.
Google already operates a co-working space, the so-called
Factory in the affluent hipster neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg,
while home-grown incubator Rocket Internet shepherds a flock of
startups towards hoped-for greatness.
One of Berlins biggest successes, online fashion retailer
Zalando, last year reported revenues of 4.5 billion euros less than
a decade after its 2008 founding.
Such spots of light are vital for a city-state that lags behind
wealthier regions in Germanys west and south.
Berlin is still recovering from the post-war decades as a
relative backwater sliced in half and stranded deep inside
communist East Germany, which co...