How profitable is Bored Panda

Museum-ready disruption

The world's first startup museum has opened in Vilnius. The hype about a corporate culture that is increasingly exposed to criticism elsewhere is blossoming here

"In Vilnius we love startups so much that we have dedicated an entire museum to them," a euphoric wall text explains to visitors to the Startup Museum Vilnius, which recently opened in the Lithuanian capital. Twelve young Lithuanian companies are allowed to retell their success stories here, and four new ones are to be added every year. The urban development agency Go Vilnius is responsible for the museum located in the Talent Garden coworking space. Their declared goal is to attract new founders and to consolidate the startup ecosystem of the city in which Vinted (known in Germany as Kleiderkreisel) is the first Unicorn startup Lithuania was founded.

The museum will also provide information on the measures taken by the Vilnius Municipality in this regard. An online-based turbo business registration procedure and a special startup visa are intended to make Vilnius more attractive as a location for young companies. The city also represents one Open data policythat enables companies to access data from the finance, real estate and transportation sectors. The CityBee app, which can be used to rent cars, bicycles and scooters, and the Trafi startup, which enables transport companies to offer centralized mobility services, are already benefiting from this.

Among other things, Trafi supports the ride-sharing company Lyft in including public transport in its suggested routes and, together with the Berlin transport company, designed the Jelbi app, the central information about the entire range of BVG and various car, bike, scooter and E. -Scooter sharing services granted and booking allowed without switching between different apps.

In a panda costume for an interview

With its urban development mission, the Startup Museum Vilnius is as far removed from the traditional educational institution concept of the museum as the Museum of Ice Cream. But just as the pastel-colored selfie paradise with its rainbow sprinkle pools, colorful neon lights and frosted pink walls provides material evidence of a distinct Instagram-optimized aesthetic of the late 2010s, the startup museum also does cultural preservation work. It exhibits a self-image that is characteristic of the startup business model. Startups are young companies with little start-up capital, innovative ideas and high growth potential. But the term, which is relatively new in economic history, also stands for a distinct form of corporate culture that is clearly evident in Vilnius.

Objects that are typical of the startup industry are shown here, for example started-from-the-bottom-Using a narrative: the bucket that caught the water dripping from a leak in the ceiling in the first office of the 3D model start-up CGTrade; the packet of peanut butter that the founders of the entertainment website Bored Panda bought with their first salary. The path to success is deliberately infectious "Hustle Lingo" ("get shit done absolutely right") retold. The unconventionally relaxed working atmosphere is illustrated in exhibits such as the panda costume in which an employee of the entertainment platform Bored Panda appeared for an interview or the craft beer bottles with QR codes that the IT startup Tesonet uses recruited new team members at a recruiting event.

Team building in the disco

Tesonet now has 800 employees. Last year it took four aircraft to move the company's employees on the occasion of the annual Workation to transport to Turkey: unicorn swim ring in the pool, laptops on the sun lounger and team building in the holiday club disco. Start-up strategies such as upholding the founding myth, professionalizing the evening after work and blurring the boundaries between work and leisure are intended to generate a strong identification of employees with the company. Those tactics that are also used in more established companies of the New Economy Find application, but become instruments of exploitative appropriation.

The practices of many startups with regard to service providers are even more worrying. In the app-based gig economy, disruption is equated with deregulation in many cases: Mobility companies such as Lime and Uber or song service providers such as Deliveroo and Instacart use the loophole of formal independence to employ people without occupational safety and low wages. In an article for "The New Republic", Lia Russell describes the start-up dystopia of California that has become reality with apt pictures: Uber drivers spend the night in their Enterprise-rented cars, mountains of e-scooters pile up on the side of the streets clogged by ride-sharing cars.

Hoodies as a savior

Derek Thompson recently hit a similar note in a text for the "Atlantic". He states that the blind belief in the innovative strength of Silicon Valley has turned out to be a mistake, the allocation of funding and human resources in young tech companies has led less to groundbreaking innovations than to an erosion of the social infrastructure of American cities. Thompson refers, among other things, to the coworking company WeWork. Its founder Adam Newmann promised to revolutionize workspaces, but ultimately mainly engaged in real estate speculation and enriched himself in a dubious way from the profits of his own company. For Thompson, WeWork is a particularly drastic example of a range of young American companies that are giving established profitable strategies a fresh coat of paint and selling them as innovations.

Among the museum start-ups are exciting companies that one would not like to accuse of such a thing. In general, the situation in Europe may be less drastic than in the startup hub Silicon Valley, but here, too, e-scooters are a public nuisance and here too, companies like Airbnb act as gentrification accelerators. The stencil-like, non-conforming startup culture is becoming a museum at a time when this part of the corporate world is facing increasing criticism - perhaps it is even an indication of their imminent abdication. It would be desirable, as more and more examples are clearly showing that business punks in hoodies should not be stylized as saviors any more than wall street brokers in suits.