Thursday, October 05, 2000

The Cyber Scene in Stockholm ~ by Karl Palmas

Ideas abundant, VCs scarce

This week has seen the birth of a new business magazine: Guru.
Abundance is the word that comes to mind: There are already, in
Sweden alone, five business-without-figures monthlies around.
Nevertheless, the first issue was launched this Tuesday with a
party that attracted 400 distinguished guests. I wouldn't know,
though, as I couldn't make it... Well, lets face it - I wasn't

Thus, with my newly found awareness of the true meaning of
alienation and the antagonism between the elite and commons, I
rebelliously marched on to ABF; an educational institution founded
by the worker movement sometime way back in the past century.
Quite fittingly, the seminar held that particular night discussed
the very mechanisms behind the sudden proliferation of business
media. Key note speaking was done by author and journalist Bjorn
Elmbrant, who just released a book on 'The Hyper Capitalism'. Due
to the insanely intellectual nature of the writing, I will not
even try to give you a full rundown of its contents here. In short,
the author states that democracy and 'policy' is currently being
subdued by business and economism. According to Elmbrant, this
unfortunate process is partly fueled by new media and IT in

The problem does not stem from the new media entrepreneurs,
though: Elmbrant thinks that "the IT-kids" often are "quite
sane". Instead, the venture capitalists are to blame, all too
often hampering the creativity of the entrepreneurs. Since I am
naive and uncorrupted, I figured I'd might as well give the VCs
the benefit of doubt and see them for myself. I left the lefties
to mingle with party people of a totally different kind: The ones
who take part in the institutionalized mating game also known as
First Tuesday.

October's FT event was held in Terence Conran trademarked interiors
of Berns Restaurant. Standing there, leaning onto the illuminated
shrine-like installation that is a the bar, I had an uncomfortable
feeling of everybody staring me down. Not the kind of smug smiles I
sometimes, in sheer paranoia, detect from the fashion conscious
(and slightly conformist) Stockholm crowd when having a bad hair
day. No, this was different. The people around me carefully
searched my chest area, gave me a brief (yet blatantly
disapproving) glance, and then eventually walked past me.

Once again, the feeling of alienation crept upon me. Halfway
through the line "OK, so my torso isn't really that fit, but I
have just as much a right to venture capital as anyone else!",
some friendly soul told me about the system of green or red
stickers put on your chest to indicate whether you have or need
capital. Having gained that insight, and a sticker of my own, the
event made so much more sense. Having spoken to a few of the VCs,
they do not seem nearly as vicious as portrayed by Mr. Elmbrant.
What was striking though, was the apparent lack of VCs - there are
obviously more ideas than there is capital in Stockholm. (Or maybe
the VCs had gone to that Guru release party, in which case I bet
they all have great chests.)