Booklet about the anniversary

Booklet about the anniversary

Booklet about the anniversary

Since 1998, Swisscom has been operating an Outpost in Silicon Valley. With Berlin and Shanghai, two more locations have recently been added. Former and current Outpost leaders look back on twenty fascinating years in which technological development has changed the world significantly. Order the booklet now or download it!

In a multi-part series on our website, we looked back at the Swisscom Outpost’s 20 years in Silicon Valley. The various contributions by former and current Outpost leaders have now been put together in a booklet.

The result is a 62-page publication in English and German with numerous photos and an overview table containing the technological and entrepreneurial developments of the last 20 years.

Order or download it

  • Download the booklet here for free
  • Order the booklet via blurb.com for the anniversary price of $ 20.00 (excl. shipping and taxes)

We hope you enjoy reading the history of the Swisscom Outpost!

Palo Alto, August 2019

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20 Years of Outpost

20 Years of Outpost

“Swisscom has a place in Silicon Valley”

Roger Wühtrich-Hasenböhler is Head of Swisscom Digital Business. In his editorial, he looks back at the 20-year presence of Swiscom in Silicon Valley and looks ahead to the future of the Outpost.

Who would have thought in 1998 that Swisscom would still have a presence in Silicon Valley 20 years later?

What began as a small outpost for observing ongoing developments related to the Internet now involves the full spectrum of technical innovation and is an integral part of the Swisscom world.

The same year Swisscom was reorganized as a joint stock corporation and, step by step, was partially privatized, the first employees set foot in Silicon Valley, which at the time was still in its early development. Truly a pioneering achievement!

When the Internet bubble burst shortly thereafter and many other telecommunications companies withdrew, Swisscom held its ground and adapted to the new conditions. We were thus present from the very beginning of this new era.

Thanks to this far-sightedness, we were able to experience at first hand the increasing emergence of innovative startups and also shape the rapid technological developments, especially following the introduction of the iPhone in 2007.

Now more than ever, Swisscom has a place in Silicon Valley and enjoys an excellent reputation. The constant care for and ongoing expansion of our network has made us a true participant in this unique ecosystem.

This benefits not just our employees, but also our customers, suppliers and partners in various ways. Through the Outpost, we bring external innovation to Swisscom and thus contribute to the growth of the company.

But not only that: Today, our Outpost has become a hub for the entire Swiss economy. We also represent Switzerland in Silicon Valley and help shape the future of our country through an open innovation process.

In addition to Silicon Valley, we have recently established a presence in Berlin and Shanghai. Together with the established Outpost, this reflects our aspiration to be present in other hotspots and to be on the hunt for emerging trends around the world.

The Outpost is a success story that is able to look back on an impressive past, enjoys a vibrant present and can expect an interesting future. Here’s to exciting years yet to come and path-breaking developments that will change our Swisscom world!

Recorded by Mark Walti, Palo Alto, July 2019. Roger Wühtrich-Hasenböhler is Head of Swisscom Digital Business.

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Swisscom Outpost in Berlin

Swisscom Outpost in Berlin

Jasmin Samsudeen, Head of Outpost, Berlin.
The Outpost is located at the Factory in the center of Berlin next to the former Wall.

Lots of creative potential and stimulating internationality

Swisscom has been active in Berlin since 2015 and today also operates an Outpost there. The German capital has one of the fastest-growing start-up ecosystems in the world and its tech scene is rich, vibrant and full of enthusiastic entrepreneurs. Jasmin Samsudeen is responsible for the Berlin Outpost. Here she talks about her day-to-day life.

The Outpost Berlin got its start with the project “Siroop.” At the time, Swisscom wanted to build an e-commerce marketplace together with Coop. The foundations for it were laid with the support of experienced entrepreneurs and start-ups, as well experts on platforms and digitalization. Company builders like Rocket Internet often find role models for their companies in business models that have already proved to be effective in the United States or China. They then give them the final polish practically overnight, taking them from a start-up to a potential IPO. At this point, e-commerce is no longer setting the course for the industry in Berlin. From the areas of hyperlocal, FinTech and digital marketing, to specialized software solutions and fields of applied artificial intelligence, the Berlin start-up ecosystem is booming in the growth fields of our future.

Dynamic Networking at the Factory

Since the days of “Siroop,” the Outpost has been housed at the Factory in the center of Berlin next to the former Wall. In addition to well-known start-up companies Like 6Wunderkinder, Soundcloud, Twitter, Uber, and Zendesk, corporations such as Siemens, Deutsche Bank and Audi have taken up residence at the Factory. These companies cooperate as incubators for other start-ups such as Finchtechdb, which among other things participated in the Kickstart accelerator and is now creating a FinTech map for Swisscom Digital Business.

A dynamic networking environment was an important criterion for us in the selection of the location. Unlike a classic co-working space where everyone is in it for themselves, the Factory is a kind of community and offers regular meetups on a wide range of topics. It’s also possible to conduct a focused search there for start-ups and freelancers to support us in our projects.

The Factory is in many ways the starting point for networking in Berlin. On the Factory campus, there are workplaces that can also be used by Swisscom employees, networks, consulting services, event space and other forms of support.

Leading the e-SME Sector

The Berlin ecosystem is in general characterized by this idea of community. The openness and cooperation among young entrepreneurs is palpable throughout the city. People support each other, learn from each other and try to move forward by combining their efforts. In addition, Berlin has a lot of creative potential and has a stimulating internationality. The city is also subject to constant change.

Berlin is and will remain just as much of an attractive location for large and medium-sized companies as it is for start-ups. In addition to Swisscom, Microsoft, Daimler, Vodafone, Lufthansa, SAP and Google, numerous large corporations are establishing a presence in Berlin with their innovation outposts. The Berlin start-up cult is attracting foreign investors as well as a German and international workforce. Although life is becoming increasingly expensive here too, Berlin has one of the lowest costs of living among European capital cities.

In Europe, where the start-up scene is highly fragmented, Berlin epitomizes the e-SME sector. Small and medium-sized enterprises are extremely important in the German-speaking world in particular. Many developments in the digitalization of their business sectors, even if they are only niches, are emerging here.

Organizing Partnerships and Putting Collaborations On Track

In all these areas, we keep our eyes and ears open for Swisscom in Berlin. Our representatives, for example local.ch, which along with localcities.ch has digitalized all services related to municipalities and associations, are cooperating with experienced digital experts in Berlin. In addition, start-ups serve as inspirations, role models, potential partners and future service providers.

Innovations that have proven effective in German-speaking countries usually work in Switzerland as well. In this respect, we are organizing partnerships, putting collaborations on track and building cost-effective prototypes in record time with the help of our external production site. These help Swisscom to test new types of services and products at an early stage and to validate them for their customers.

Swisscom employees from Switzerland who come to Berlin for a few weeks or months at a time are also participating in these projects. As part of the “Stars@Outpost” programm, which is also offered in Silicon Valley, we offer talented and interested colleagues the opportunity to be inspired by this fascinating environment in Berlin and to gain new perspectives on their projects.

Recorded by Mark Walti, Palo Alto, 10 June 2019. Jasmin Samsudeen is Head of Outpost, Berlin.

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Swisscom Outpost Shanghai

Swisscom Outpost Shanghai

“The constant unpredictability is a major challenge”

Judy Wei, Senior Innovation manager, Outpost Shanghai (left) and Yanqing Wyrsch, Head of Oupost, Shanghai (right)

Swisscom Outpost office located in the Xnode Incubation Center

Swisscom Outpost in Shanghai

Since 2016, Swisscom has operated an Outpost in Shanghai. China’s largest city in terms of population is well known as a global financial center and start-up hub. Yanqing Wyrsch is responsible for the Shanghai Outpost. She talks with us about her everyday life.

The idea for an Outpost in Shanghai arose in 2016. After a detailed analysis of the extent to which Swisscom would be able to operate in China at all and whether it would also add value, a final decision was reached in mid-2017. We now have the status of a ‘representative office’ because the telecom industry is government controlled and therefore no licenses are granted for operational activities.

However, it still took several months just to reach this point and to be entered in the trade registry. We have been officially active in Shanghai since September 1, 2018. Everything takes its time here… Certain things, such as opening a bank account, take much longer. At least for the moment, about 60% of our work consists of administrative overhead.

High Interest in China

It also took a lot of time to recruit an employee. It wasn’t easy to find someone who met our expectations. Finally, I was able to bring the former managing director of L’Atelier, the Shanghai outpost of BNP Paribas, to Swisscom. Since the beginning of the year, Judy Wei has been shoring up our Outpost, and now as a team of two, we are much better positioned than before.

Our primary tasks include local scouting, introducing the various Swisscom units to the Chinese market and accompanying their forays into the market. Unlike Silicon Valley, where scouting focuses heavily on new technologies and ventures, here it’s more about the business model and consumer trends. It’s of interest how new technologies are used in the market and how consumers react to them.

In connection with the whole transformation through digitalization, we are organizing visits and exchange opportunities with Chinese firms and start-ups for various areas of Swisscom. This is about being better able to understand and be inspired by the innovation going on here. Interest in China within Swisscom is huge and shows the importance of our presence in Shanghai.

An Ecosystem Within an Ecosystem

Our office is located in the Xnode Incubation Center. The interesting thing about this location is that half the tenants are start-ups, and the other half is comprised of companies. Thanks to this mix, we have rapid access to new and innovative developments and, through interaction with the other companies, also benefit from their experience in the Chinese market.

In addition, about 50% of the resident firms are Chinese and 50% are international. This is an advantage in that not everything that works in the Chinese market is also suitable for Western culture and our society. By observing how other foreign companies are proceeding, we can better estimate what we can and cannot bring to Switzerland.

The interaction among the various companies is well organized. We have weekly topic-specific events where people present their projects to each other. That’s why our center is its own small ecosystem. In a country where 12,000 new start-ups are being created every day, it is impossible to keep track of everything. The companies that take up residence with us have already cleared the first hurdles and are capable of accomplishing something.

Rapid development

Maintaining contact with start-ups is quite demanding. This is less the case in the early stages of a company, when you can gain access very quickly and the companies are very open, than it is later. Good start-ups here grow within a few months from a handful of employees to several hundred. The parameters and the contact partners also change accordingly.

Development is rapid, and so meetings cannot be planned far in advance. It has already happened several times that a few weeks after we found an interesting start-up, we had to start the evaluation process over again because our contact person was no longer in charge and the business and general conditions had changed.

From Development to Prohibition

This can also be strikingly observed in daily life. In 2017, for example, the sharing economy was a major topic. Within a brief time, there were thousands of bicycles on the street that could be rented through an app. Today, most of them have disappeared again because new laws were created that restrict this for various reasons.

Topics relating to blockchain, FinTech and especially Bitcoin were also huge in 2017 and seemingly limitless. Today, Bitcoin trading is prohibited by law. This does not mean, however, that no further work is being done in these areas or that no new developments are emerging. But this constant unpredictability is a major challenge for us. What is true today no longer applies tomorrow…

Recorded by Mark Walti, Palo Alto, 2 May 2019. Yanqing Wyrsch is Head of Outpost, Shanghai.

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Deloitte Future Talk

Deloitte Future Talk

Simon Zwahlen on the benefit of a presence in Silicon Valley

In the Deloitte Future Talk podcasts, industry insiders address key issues for the future related to technology, digitization, disruption, innovation and entrepreneurship.

In episode 048, “Scouting & Investing in Silicon Valley: The Example of Swisscom”, Simon Zwahlen, VP for Business Development & Innovation at Swisscom, gets a chance to speak.

He provides an inside view of the technology ecosystem in Silicon Valley, draws comparisons to other start-up centers and tells us what benefits large corporations can derive from having a local presence.

Click here for the podcast interview (in German)

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20 Years of Outpost (Part 4)

20 Years of Outpost (Part 4)

Lukas Peter, CEO & Head of Outpost Services

Lukas Peter, Roger Wüthrich, Ueli Maurer (Swiss Finance Minister and Federal Council member), and Simon Zwahlen

“Back to the Roots!”

In a multi-part series, we look back at the Swisscom Outpost’s 20 years in Silicon Valley. In the fourth and final Part, we hear from Lukas Peter, who has been at the Outpost since the beginning of 2016 and oversaw its relocation from Menlo Park to Palo Alto.

In spring 2017, we moved the Outpost back to Palo Alto. The main reason for this was the oversized office in Menlo Park, where the original intention had been to build an external production site with over 50 developers for the Swisscom Cloud project. But after that project was stopped, the rental costs were out of proportion to the ten or so employees who were ultimately still here.

It was clear to me that we were not only looking for something more affordable, but also for something that looked less like a corporate office and exuded more of the Silicon Valley groove. In addition, in various internal conversations, the former location at 636 Waverly Street was repeatedly mentioned as the ideal. So it began to be apparent that the search was heading in this direction, that is to say, back to the roots!

A Stroke of Luck

Then as luck would have it, I stumbled across the building on 675 Forest Avenue in practically my first search on Craigslist. This was perfect not only in size, but also in location: It’s just off University Avenue on a parallel street and you can reach downtown Palo Alto and the train station in a few minutes on foot.

Since everyone had warned me beforehand how difficult it was to find something suitable in this area and above all something affordable, I was of course thrilled. On top of that, I was under quite a bit of time pressure when I started searching in March. Our contract in Menlo Park was expiring in April, so things had to be done quickly. In hindsight, you can probably call it a stroke of luck!

Moving in Record Time

After the contract was signed, the move started immediately. Unfortunately, I had to go to Switzerland at that point and so I couldn’t help my colleagues with it.… But they did a great job and everyone pitched in so that we could switch to the new address as quickly as possible.

Before that, we were able to repaint the building and make a few modifications. We also bought new furniture so that we could outfit it properly. As I said, we didn’t have much time for it and there was a certain amount of skepticism among the staff members as to whether it would ultimately meet our needs.

With the help of an interior decorator, who fortunately was very flexible, we managed the whole switchover and outfitting within two or three weeks. That was really in the style of a lean start-up.… At almost the same time, the new Pirates Hub was being set up in Zurich, which took more than six months. The way we did things over here was a bit different!

Gateway to Global Innovation

With the move into the new location, the Cloud Lab and the Outpost teams were also able to be brought together. The joint move and the new space, which allowed for closer cooperation, certainly contributed to that. In addition, we have a spacious yard here, which lets us conduct team lunches and barbecues.

But we are also better situated for external events now and can appropriately represent Swisscom. In autumn 2017, for example, we had a visit from a 45-member delegation from ICT Switzerland along with political representatives from Switzerland’s Council of States and National Council (Blog). Last year, we recorded a total of more than 300 guests at the Outpost. There was everything from start-ups to university professors to CEOs. Today, we’re a hub for the whole Swiss economy.

This has been accompanied by a change in the Outpost’s positioning. On the one hand, we tend to the local ecosystem, while on the other hand, we establish connections to Swisscom and to other companies and institutions. This is also expressed through our claims to be a Gateway to Global Innovation and a Gateway to Switzerland. We consider it our mission to represent both Swisscom and Switzerland in Silicon Valley.

Investments, Tech & New Business Scouting, Innovation Lab and Partnerships

In addition to our representative function, our current field of activity primarily includes four areas. We invest in local start-ups, as we recently did with fastly, through the Swisscom Digital Transformation Fund, where the former Outpost director Stefan Kuentz is responsible for US investments with Swisscom Ventures. Or we go the opposite direction and connect Swiss start-ups like Mila with the local ecosystem.

Then we do tech and new business scouting here and bring the resulting discoveries and contacts to the business units in Switzerland. Examples of such discoveries are the companies ZecOps and Mesh++, which Swisscom and its customers have recently been collaborating with. Or we launch entirely new products like the marketing system beem, which my colleague Simon Zwahlen has built up here and is currently being launched in Switzerland with a newly founded team as a new product in its own right.

With our local engineers as well as close cooperation with Next Generation Telecom International, we have the possibility of conducting technical due diligence for our potential investments in our Innovation Lab. In the area of tech scouting, we can quickly test products or initiate proofs of concept from here for potential new products, as in the example of beem.

And the area of partnerships is very important. Especially suppliers like VMware or Dell Technologies are of great importance for the entire Swisscom IT infrastructure. The interaction with Ericsson is also essential as they operate an Innovation Lab with more than 500 people here. In addition, we are involved in various organizations such as the Telecom Council, the Cloud Foundry Foundation or the MIT Media Lab.

Growth with Berlin and Shanghai

Swisscom’s Outpost concept no longer includes only a presence in Silicon Valley. With Berlin and Shanghai, two more satellites have been launched in the last two years. This clearly expresses Swisscom’s aspiration to be present in other hotspots around the world in addition to the established Outpost in order to be able to keep track of trends and emerging developments in the future as well.

Recorded by Mark Walti, Palo Alto, 3 April 2019. Lukas Peter is CEO and head of Outpost Services.

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