Alex Smolianitski

Write jibberish, sometimes even with some meaning.

Notes from DLD 2016

The third week of January is a perfect moment to meet up at DLD in Munich and to get the inspiration the cold season needs – in the days leading to the WEF in Davos a inspiring community of people from media, tech, and politics gathers to talk about current issues of our (digital) world.

Steffi, one of the most influential women in the industry, and her team invite and they all come. DLD is not only a name for the conference, but a great community to be part of.

This years topic was “The Next Next” and some of the topics sounded similar to issues people were talking about 5 years ago, this time from a different angle.

DLD Conference 2016

The first day started slightly depressing for the european part of the community, because it seemed as we would like to complain a lot about certain regulations which the political framework gives us. With EU commissioner Margarethe Versager and a panel with representatives from politics and VC firms the first program slots did not give a clear answer on who is holding back innovation in Europe – whether it is our mind, out companies or our politics. It seemed as if this conversation would not have an end until a journalist stood up and reminded the audience about Spotify, Skype, and companies like Rocket Internet, who are all based in Europe. From that moment on people gained some self-confidence again and the mood has changed.

Day two already started with one of the highlights. Scott Galloway of NYU Stern spoke about his favorite “Gang of Four” (Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook). You have got to see his talk. One of Scott’s main topics was the migration of talent. Uber is the new hip place to be and if you want to work there you have got to work at one of the Gang-members beforehand.

The day continued with talks on journalism and the journalistic credibility of native ads and how giants like Google can influence ones perception of the world by tailoring search results. This was not really breaking news, but interesting to hear from Robert Thomson who is Chief Executive at News Corp.

Instagram wants to make us all historians. 400 million users and 80 million photos per day. This means that just last year people published more photos than in the entire photographic era combined.

Speaking of eras. Netflix’s success marks the end of the era of linear television. In the interconnected and 24/7 world that we are living in right now we want to be in charge of our entertainment program. It was great to see the most famous German news anchor talk to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings about the question of why we should get informed only at 6pm and 8pm.

Next giant on stage. This time its airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk. In the past year airbnb finally went mainstream. In 2015 35 million guests used airbnb. This means almost 50% of all bookings in the past 8 years. This is a great success an, but airbnb has to be careful to see how it is going to develop itself, so that they can keep the spirit that you stay in somebodies house and not an apartment owned by some company.

It’s been two years since Jan Koum was on stage. Only 2 weeks after his last appearance at DLD WhatsApp has been acquired by Facebook. While data and HR-topics are not being handled by Facebook, the developers of WhatsApp are still separate. With only 2 IT guys Jan handles the ecosystem. A really new and exciting update was that WA wants to open up for B2C communication. It is an option which could lead to WA’s income.

Uber has been one of the new big players who is definitely winning ground. Even though Germany is still trying to fight against it. During our time in South Africa, as well as right now in Munich, I really enjoy taking a ride with a nice car and a friendly driver.

The second day ended with a party at BMW Welt and was a transition to the third day which started with a lovely chat with Arianna Huffington, Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Miriam Meckel who all talked about the power of sleep. With all the wrist bands and new smart gadgets you can see that people start to care about sleep. Whereas a few years ago it was cool to brag about how little sleep one needs, “sleep is the new black”. Till Rönneberg, professor at the university in Munich, compared setting an alarm clock to a washing machine. We would not just turn off the machine in the middle of the program, because we would decide that it would be a good moment to stop washing. The same string of thought should be attached to our natural habit of sleeping. If we have a good amount of sleep we are more productive and have a better mood. Life is much healthier this way. Although I can not imagine sleeping each night for eight hours, I must say that ever since I started using a Jawbone UP I started to care a lot more about my sleep.

Speaking of healthy life-styles. Next up were Caleb Harper (MIT Media Lab), Sam Kass (NBC) and Kimbal Musk who presented his “The Kitchen” project; a community of learning gardens and restaurants which have the mission to teach food-literacy. An inspiring project; also for my mom 😉

Oliver Bäte from Allianz SE encouraged the audience to write letters to the government so that regulations would change and we would be able to WhatsApp with our insurance companies. His fireside chat was one of the interesting moments of the conference as it was fascinating to see a former McKinsey director now leading an insurance company and struggling with regulations.

The final talk was on networks and hierarchies by Harvard professor Niall Ferguson. There are 3 axes of history: Networks, Hierarchies and Nature. Environment changes by the innovation coming fron the network. The network disrupts hierarchies and hierarchies benefit of networks.

Of course DLD is not only about the keynotes and panel discussion which one can visit. It is about the opportunity to meet the brightest and most inspiring bunch of people as well as friends. This is the by far most valuable item of the conference.

Thanks to all the DLDlers who worked hard on making this years event possible.

Here are some of the talks which one should see from this years conference:


Scott Galloway: Gang of Four


Reed Hastings & Claus Kleber: Click & Watch



Nathan Blecharczyk & David Rowan: Hosting the World


Jan Koum & Cade Metz: What’s Up WhatsApp?


Bastian Lehmann & Marc Samwer: Knock, knock: The New Delivery Guys


Sam Kass, Molly Maloof, Kimbal Musk & Caleb Harper: The Future of Food


Philipp Schindler & Miriam Meckel: What Will You Do Next?


Oliver Bäte & Alan Murray: Insurance in an Unsecure World


Adrian van Hooydonk: Your Next Joyride


Celebrate Sleep!

More stories and videos from DLD at


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