By LAURA LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News
At the W Hotel in downtown Austin the focus was on the high tech region of Frankfurt, Germany on Tuesday evening.
Hessen Trade and Invest and FrankfurtRheinMain Corp. sponsored the event, which featured networking and speakers from Texas, a Frankfurt university, Austin-based HomeAway and Frankfurt-based Crytek.
John Steen, Texas Secretary of State, and 20 people from Texas travelled to the Frankfurt region last April. The German people were very friendly and had traits similar to Texans, he said. He said he hopes to foster even more collaboration between the two areas.
Germany is known for engineering, said Professor Ralf Steinmetz with the Technische Universitat Darmstadt. The region also has more than 8,000 information technology companies, a number that is even higher than Silicon Valley. The region has 350 partners and 17 research organizations with a concentration in the software industry. And a lot of software is focused on the automobile industry. The region also has more than 70 game developers and publishers in the Frankfurt area, Steinmetz said.
One of the featured speakers was David L. Adams, CEO of Crytek USA, a game development company. He joined Crytek in January within a few days of shutting down Vigil, a gaming studio whose parent company THQ went bankrupt. The studio hired many of Vigil’s former employees.
“We went from being unemployed to being Crytek USA within a few days,” Adams said.
Crytek USA now has 50 employees and it’s working on a couple of projects with its Frankfurt counterparts, Adams said. One project is Ryse, an action/adventure game for Microsoft’s new Xbox video game console. The office is also working on another project that hasn’t been announced yet, he said.
Another speaker, Brent Bellm, chief operating officer of HomeAway, said the vacation home company publishes a magazine in Germany. It’s the only publication the company does, he said. HomeAway, founded in 2005, has become the world’s largest vacation rental marketplace. Today, it has 1,400 employees and is available in 171 countries with 775,000 listings. The company expects $350 million in revenue this year.
Frankfurt is HomeAway’s headquarters for central Europe, Bellm said.
“Frankfurt is, by far, the best place to do business in Germany, if you are trying to connect to Germany from outside Germany,” Bellm said. It’s a 20-minute taxi ride from the center of downtown to and from the airport, he said. It’s really easy to get around the city, he said. And the workforce is also diverse, well educated and hardworking, Bellm said.
“We’re big advocates for the Frankfurt region,” he said.