When thinking of the origin of Germany’s tech scene, it’s common to point at the successful companies of the 2000s, such as Zalando and Delivery Hero — whose founders are now investing back into the ecosystem as angels.
But Germany’s tech success started long before these companies showed up.
The country is home to six tech billionaires who, after making their riches by founding or inheriting big companies in the software, telecommunications and engineering fields, have poured millions into startups in Germany and beyond.
Some of these billionaires invest as angels, while others have their own VC funds or corporate venture arms.
Their investments include fledgling IT services startups to biotech giant CureVac, as well as the famed German founder factory, Rocket Internet.
Sifted has listed these billionaire tech investors below, using Forbes’ 2023 Billionaires Index, Dealroom data, press releases and publicly available portfolio breakdowns. We also contacted each angel or fund directly to confirm the investments.
It’s important to note that some investments may not have been disclosed in public filings.
Hasso Plattner — net worth $8.6bn
Plattner is one of the four cofounders of German software giant SAP, which has a market cap of €175bn at the time of writing and is the most active technology investor on this list.
His VC fund, Hasso Plattner Ventures — a growth-stage investor focusing on enterprise software — has made 53 investments globally, including 30 in Europe.
The majority of Plattner’s investments (24) have been in Germany, in companies such as restaurant delivery platform Delivery Hero, cash register system for gastronomy and other service providers Orderbird AG and travel booking unicorn Omio.
Andreas von Bechtolsheim — net worth $8.6bn
Von Bechtolsheim is a serial entrepreneur. The first company he cofounded was California-based Sun Microsystems in 1982, which sold computers, computer parts, software and IT services and was known for developing the Java programming language.
Fast forward to today, Bechtolsheim is the cofounder, chairman and chief development officer of Arista Networks, an American computer networking company that offers cloud networking solutions for large data centres, cloud computing, high-performance computing and high-frequency trading environments.
Bechtolsheim’s investing career started in 1998 when he invested $100k into Google before it had been legally incorporated. He's credited as being the company's first-ever backer.
He’s since made 10 tech investments globally, including two in Europe, and is rumoured to be participating in an upcoming €500m round for Aachen-based chip company, Black Semiconductor.
Bechtolsheim’s European investments are Austrian company USound, which develops silicon speakers and sound solutions based on MEMS technology, in other words, tiny sensors. And German company KONUX, an AI startup offering predictive maintenance, network usage and monitoring and planning solutions for railway infrastructure.
Dietmar Hopp — net worth $4.5bn
Hopp is another billionaire on this list who made his fortune by cofounding SAP. He’s also well-known for being the owner of German Bundesliga team, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
Much of Hopp’s riches have been invested into Dietmar-Hopp-Stiftung, a philanthropic foundation that supports medicine, education and other charitable projects in Germany’s Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region.
He’s also tried his hand at tech investing through his biotech investment company, dievini Hopp Biotech Holding, which as the name suggests, focuses on biotech startups in Europe.
Hopp has backed nine companies in Europe, the most high-profile being CureVac, a German biopharmaceutical conglomerate in which Hopp has invested more than €250m. He’s also invested in AC Immune, a precision medicine company to diagnose, treat and prevent neurodegeneration.
Georg Nemetschek — net worth $2.9bn
Nemetschek is the founder of one of the most valuable listed software companies in Germany, Nemetschek Group, which is a software vendor for architects, engineers and the construction industry, with a market cap of €9.38bn at the time of writing.
Nemetschek Group has made 12 investments, 7 of which are in Europe, in the sectors real estate, enterprise software, robotics and gaming.
The portfolio includes:
- Construction project management software Sablono
- KEWAZO, which offers a robotic material hoist to transport scaffolding parts
- Stylib, a material search platform for architects
Ralph Dommermuth — net worth $2.1bn
Dommermuth is the founder, chairman and CEO of United Internet, a global internet services company.
It started out in 1988 as a marketing service provider called EDV-Marketing GmbH, which later pivoted into an internet service provider, 1&1. In 1998, 1&1 was the first internet company to IPO in Germany. It was later restructured into United Internet in 2000.
In 2006, Dommermuth founded his own VC fund, United Internet Ventures, from which he’s made six European investments.
One of Dommermuth’s most high-profile investments was in Rocket Internet, the famed startup factory founded by brothers Oliver, Marc and Alexander Samwer in 2014: Dommermuth invested €435m into the company in exchange for a 10.7% stake.
Other investments include Uberall, a platform helping companies scale their location marketing, and Open-Xchange, which offers communication, collaboration and office productivity software for service providers.
Karin Schick — net worth $1.8bn
Schick holds a 35% stake in Bechtle AG — her father’s business. The multinational tech company, combining IT services with the direct sale of hardware and software IT products, was founded in 1983 in Heilbronn — a lesser-known German city that is now home to the country’s flagship AI campus: Innovation Park AI (Ipai).
Bechtle’s strong growth in the IT space (it has revenues exceeding €6bn) is in part down to its M&A strategy. According to Dealroom data, Bechtle AG has acquired, or taken a majority stake in nine European startups in Germany, the UK, Austria, Spain and France.
It most recently took a 51% stake in Planet AI, an AI-powered document-processing platform, in October.
This year, Bechtle acquired Prosol Iscat, an IT service provider based out of Madrid and Barcelona, and APIXIT a French cybersecurity company helping other companies digitalise through digital workplace, IT infrastructures and cybersecurity.