Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg

For Bavarian Exile, a Second Chance

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg dpa
Sharp exit from politics for Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Former minister Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg has been vocal in his criticism of Germany’s slow uptake of digital technology and innovative thinking.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg had his PhD revoked after it was discovered that he had plagiarized parts of his dissertation, leading to the abrupt end of his political career in 2011.
    • In 2013 Mr Guttenberg founded Spitzberg Partners in New York, a boutique corporate advisory and investment firm.
    • The former politician advises companies including Lufthansa and the fintech start-up Ripple on regulation and innovation.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

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.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.