What does Twitter want with Germany?

Jack Dorsey and Angela Merkel (courtesy of Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert)

It looks like Twitter’s going to set up shop in Berlin. A couple of months after Jack Dorsey said he was looking to hire in Germany, a market where Twitter is struggling to grow, a local magazine says the company has chosen the nation’s capital for its next location.

Jack Dorsey and Angela Merkel (courtesy of Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert)Focus magazine reported that Twitter has already found someone to head up its Berlin operation.

The company confirmed that its German chief will be Rowan Barnett, currently the head of community and social media at news site Bild.de — but Focus also said it had spotted job ads, which have now reportedly been taken down, for a press spokesperson and a manager to deal with sports club relations.

The choice of location is in some ways surprising — international tech companies have tended to put roots in wealthier areas such as Hamburg and Munich. However, Berlin is rapidly becoming Germany’s web hub, as Amazon Web Services confirmed last November when it said it too would set up operations in the city.

And coincidentally, one of Twitter’s earliest employees, software engineer Florian Weber, is now CTO at one of the city’s most prominent local startups, Amen.

A European representative for Twitter declined to comment on the “speculation”, but here’s what we do know: despite Germany being the largest European economy, Twitter’s not doing brilliantly there.

The service has just under four million accounts in this country of 81 million people. Compare that with the UK (population: 62 million), which has around 24 million accounts. German takeup grew relatively slowly over 2011, and user engagement is low.

Working more closely with sports clubs in soccer-mad Germany may help. Dorsey also met with chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this month for a “great conversation”, although she is reportedly still resisting the idea of joining the network herself.

If the Berlin story pans out, it also means the company could start to gain a distinctly European flavor, with fully half of Twitter’s offices would be in Europe: apart from its operations in San Francisco, New York and Tokyo, the company also has addresses in London and Dublin.

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