Archive for September, 2008

iværk08: Morten Lund: “Amateurs build the Ark. Professionals build the Titanic”

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

iværk08: An emotional Morten Lund facing the pressAn emotional Morten Lund, faced the press at the iværk08 conference for entrepreneurs in Forum, Copenhagen, Denmark, on September 13th 2008. Morten Lund is a Danish Entrepreneur and Investor, usually associated with Skype, but more recently with the horrible collapse of the Danish newspaper Nyhedsavisen, which he owned a majority stake in.

Morten Lund started out, clearly shaken, and in a most open way, much against the advise of his counsellors, by addressing the press. He did that by stating that he would be accepting, at least 7 questions, from the audience first.

I really, really, want to believe that all that has actually happened, is that Morten Lund has lost a lot – he says all – of his money, and that his considerable ego has taken a serious hit. He’s also very sorry for the people that lost their jobs, and he’s also very regretful about having tried to start-up something in Denmark, which is a big shame.

His story sounds credible, and you can read it on his blog, LundXY: The Day I Woke Up Without Arms And Legs.

Personally I understand, and applaud, that Morten Lund took on the Danish media, they’re in serious need of being shaken up, but why he choose to do it by investing that heavily in a venture like Nyhedsavisen will remain a mystery to me, he must have known that it was a black-hole when he entered, or maybe he just had very, very bad advisors. The reason I’m baffled is that Nyhedsavisen clearly had the best website of all Danish media, but Nyhedsavisen relied heavily on distribution of a print-version, and my first reaction when I heard about Morten Lund’s investment was that it didn’t make any sense.

The established Danish media is a formidable foe, just consider the unfortunate fate of “Dagen”, the previous high-profiled, and very short-lived, attempt at shaking up the Danish media landscape.

While answering the questions from the press, Morten Lund made a very bold statement, by claiming that everyone was “played” by David Montgomery. (David Montgomery is Executive Chairman of Mecom, which owns Berlingske Media, one of the major Danish media conglomorates, and a main competitor of Nyhedsavisen). A statement that can also be found on his blog.

The case will unfold in the days and – probably – years to come, and there’s likely to be a juridical aftermath, even though Morten Lund, according to his blog, is keeping his fingers crossed. The juridical aftermath could become very ugly indeed.

After taking the promised 7 questions from the press, Morten Lund went on to discuss how to start things, which was what the majority of the audience had come to listen to.

Morten Lund – “The Amateur”

Morten Lund has a number of well-know mantras, like “Act don’t talk”, “Network is everything” etc. but a mantra that sort of sums up his general attitude is this:

Amateurs build the Ark. Professionals build the Titanic

Morten Lund takes pride in being the amateur – which literally means ‘lover of’. A get-goer and change-maker, who claims that he really doesn’t know anything – what so ever – about the fields that he gets involved in, but he manages to either find out, or to find people that do, and you can feel the energy and passion when he speaks about these topics, it’s quite contagious, hey it got me blogging again – something neither the Roskilde Festival 2008 nor Reboot 10 managed to do – which is rather strange come to think about it.

Even though Morten Lund says that nobody can predict the next big thing, he believes that the future is all about technology, and that Google is the one to watch. After praising AdWords, which is a brilliant idea, that is making Google tons of money, he asked the audience if anyone could explain the business model of Google to him. Only one raised his hand (me ;-)), so I guess I have some explaining to do, because it goes somewhat further than AdWords. Will blog about it, so stay tuned, but if you’re a regular follower of mine, you might have guessed that it will have something to do with “Pyramids”, hey I might – finally – make my point about that clear.

Morten Lund finished by demoing how to create a brand. After that demo, he will now – at least in the minds of the audience – forever be associated with recorder flutes! Great demo – hmm did they collect the flutes after the demo? Didn’t notice!

I want to believe

Like I said: “I want to believe”, and right now, I hope that Morten Lund, a true entrepreneur and risk taker, will have his name cleared, and that he, in the eternal words of Chumbawamba, “got knocked down, but will get up again”.

OTOH considering what happened last time I “wanted to believe”, I’m not overly optimistic.

The real looser in this case is the Danes. Unfortunately Morten Lund is most likely done trying to do business in Denmark :-(, so somebody else will have to pick up the gauntlet, and take on the Danish media.

Denmark deserves better media than what we have now, and risk takers like Morten Lund are in short supply. His message that Denmark is the perfect place to take risks, since there’s a wonderful social security system to avoid you from falling into poverty, could have been lost in translation – he qualified it by stating how important having that security is, and that we should nurture and respect our welfare society – good call! His point was that Danes really have nothing to fear, so take those risks!

I also did some live Jaikuing from iværk08, you can read it here:
At iværk08 in Forum: Amazing amount of small start-ups working with IT, including a former business partner