Germany’s former defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who lost his job in 2011 after a PhD plagiarism scandal, sits in the bare offices of a Berlin startup investment firm. A discussion rages over whether German startups will always simply copy their American peers.
“Copying? Ha! I guess I took that to new levels,” he says.
His past is never far away. Mr. Guttenberg was a rising star of the Christian Socialist Union and a minister, first of economics and later of defense, in Angela Merkel’s second term in government. That was before the plagiarism debacle cost him his PhD title. He departed the political hemisphere with his tail between his legs and these days he says it’s not political ambition that stirs him, but his role as a startup consultant.
After his abrupt exit from politics, Mr. Guttenberg and his family moved to the U.S. East Coast. In New York he founded Spitzberg and Partners, a boutique corporate advisory and investment firm. The former politician advises companies including Lufthansa and the fintech start-up Ripple on regulation and innovation. For some time now he’s also been on the advisory board of Mountain Partners, the holding company of Cornelius Boersch.