About Me

I’m Vidar @blacktar Andersen and I don’t talk about myself in the third person. I’m a hungry Norwegian hack(er), entrepreneur, startup founder, educator, learner, consultant to F100 enterprises on Corporate Entrepreneurship and an Internet software veteran currently living in Cologne, Germany.

I take stuff apart to see how it works. I reassemble stuff in different ways to see how that works. I create new stuff to see if it could work. I question the how and the why of the now.

Because I have a compulsion to make stuff suck less.

[...] Vidar is what some would call “a hustler.” He runs several local meetups in Cologne and works tirelessly. Easily someone I’d count among the people I’d start a company with, given the opportunity. [...] – Liam Boogar, Editor of The Rude Baguette

You may already know me from them there internets trolling as ‘blacktar'; my trick SEO pony nickname, scener name or gamertag from back in the glory scener hacker lamer days.

Some of you might known me as the co-founder of Plone, the wildly popular open source content management system in use by high-profile organizations and corporations like NASA JPL, The FBI, The CIA, Deutsche Telekom, Yale University, London College University, Oxfam, Discover Magazine, The Government of Brazil and many, many more.

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I  found my own tech startups to solve my own problems, consult F100 enterprises on Corporate Entrepreneurship to help establish innovation as a scalable, measurable and repeatable process driven by entrepreneurship and science, lecture on startup entrepreneurship to university students to help young people avoid my mistakes and make their own, keynote entrepreneurial events to help spread entrepreneurship to more people and corners of the world and volunteer for the local startup ecosystem as a founder of the Hacker News Cologne Meetup, Startup Weekend Cologne Organizer and a global Startup Weekend Facilitator and as an Instructor at Startup Next Cologne for the non-profit UP Global – because someone has to do that too.

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When I grow up I want to fund YOUR BIG IDEAS to make the world suck less. For now I invest my time in people  like you, helping connect the dots and sharing my mistakes and experiences in the hope that it will help you go further faster.

Hanging with ma epic peeps, aka key Startup Weekend / UP Europe peeps of awesomeness, Pioneers festival 2013, Vienna

Hanging with ma epic peeps, aka key Startup Weekend / UP Europe peeps of awesomeness, Pioneers festival 2013, Vienna

Currently, I’m investing in entrepreneurs by paying it forward, advising and helping early-stage, non-funded startups for free (as taking money from early-stage startups would be bad Karma).

I also teach and lecture at universities (e.g. University ofas a certified Lean Launchpad Educator trained by Steve Blank and Jerry Engel at Stanford, to help young entrepreneurs make their own mistakes instead of repeating the common. Universities so far include Cologne University (one of four elite universities in Germany), BiTS Iserlohn, Knowmads Business University Amsterdam, Maastricht University, Northern Institute of Technology Hamburg, Karlshochschule International University and Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

“Vidar Andersen, you rock.” -Robert @Scobleizer Scoble

As a consequence of my activities I’ve received multiple requests from global F100 companies to help them learn and take advantage of the latest in learnings and methodologies from startup entrepreneurship, that’s why I founded +ANDERSEN & ASSOCIATES in 2013 to be able to respond to the requests I was getting to help global F100 corporations innovate and create growth through entrepreneurship + science – from the inside out, from the bottom up.

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I’ve been helping friends and business colleagues finding new awesome career opportunities, freelance gigs and great new employees that fit company culture since I dropped out of university in the nineties to start working in the nascent web tech industry, and because a significant increase of requests in the later years, I founded +A RECRUITMENT to help better serve the demands of both people and companies – and quite selfishly to better provide high caliber freelancers and EIR (Entrepreneurs in Residence) for my own +ANDERSEN & ASSOCIATES‘ corporate customers’ innovation programs.

Because of having being invited to pitch my startups at the most noteworthy startup events around around the world, I’m also sharing my pitching experience helping startups for the Rheinland Pitch event become better storytellers and make sure they know what investors are looking for.

I guess it’s because of all of this, I also often get invited to speak or moderate at events and conferences on the topic of startups, corporate innovation, entrepreneurship and education.

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Advocating for a scientific and experiential approach to entrepreneurial education – and government – in Europe on a panel with World Economic Forum, researchers and entrepreneurs @ Global Entrepreneurship Week Maastricht 2014

“Most of the time I think of myself as a failure.
When I’m optimistic, I think maybe I’m just a late bloomer.”
Dave McClure

Moderating "The Interactive Dating Game" with startups and VCs @ German Haus, SxSW Austin TX 2014 with Rudy Garza of G-51 Captial & Dai Truong of Austin Ventures

Startup Ambassador to Germany and the state of NRW, SxSW 2014. Here with with Cologne and international startups @ German Haus with super angel Rudy Garza of G-51 Captial & Dai Truong of Austin Ventures

Although still a Norwegian national, in March 2014 I was invited to SxSW as an ambassador for the startups of the state of North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) and the country of Germany.

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German Haus @ SXSW 2014 with Jeff and Dave – As you can see, we decided to go for the volume discount on the specs.

In June 2013 I was invited to Stanford to receive the Lean Launchpad Educator’s training by Steve Blank and to speak about the Cologne startup community. In February 2013 ‘The Rude Baguette’, a leading European tech blog named me one of the top 5 must-know people in the German startup scene.

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Me & Steve @ Stanford University, June 2013

In 2012 I was also awarded a GEAP scholarship by Deusto Business School at Deusto University in Bilbao, Spain. Faculty and mentors included startup legends like Chris Shipley – founder of the DEMO conference, Diane Greene – co-founder of VMWare, Alex Cruz – CEO of Vueling and Dave Siffry – founder of Technorati.

GEAP Scholar 2012, Deusto University, Bilbao, Spain.

GEAP Scholar 2012, Deusto University, Bilbao, Spain. An epic city with an epic university.

In 2011 I founded my last startup “Gauss - The People Magnet” which got me invited to LeWeb 2011, SxSW 2012 by TechCocktail, London Web Summit 2012, Monaco Media Forum and more, landed us on the front page of The New York Times – both online and print, on CNN, Business Insider, TechCrunch, Forbes, and numerous other international renowned media. It also won the “People’s Choice” award at the Nordic Startup Awards 2012. Despite of all of this, it closed in early 2013.

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I wrote a post about why I founded Gauss – The People Magnet. It was an amazing learning experience and a crazy roller coaster ride leading me to all sorts of interesting places.

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Featured & Recognized by…

If you were on the Internet in the last 10 years, you have used or seen my work.

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Chances are, you’ve seen this little fella’ more than once

I’ve created a number of world and web industry-firsts for F500 enterprises, governments and GOs in my days as an on-and-off salary man 1997 – 2010, most of which under NDA and behind firewalls.

Perhaps some day I’ll take the time to write the story of my corporate capers. But for now you can find more details about my past life as a professional coaster professional life at LinkedIn and XING if that’s more like the sort of thing you came here looking for.

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Education

At around the ripe old age of nine I started my first entrepreneurial venture; putting on a magic show and charging the neighborhood kids for admission. Not very novel perhaps, but in retrospect it probably says something about my urge to fleece my friends create and manipulate people tell stories.

I think it was around that age I promised my mother to buy her a house with a swimming pool for her retirement. I’m still working on making good on that.

Look, grandma! I'm hanging with Royalty these days! His Royal Awesomeness Crown Prince Alexander the Second of Serbia with Wife & Me at the royal palace in Belgrade, 2014.

Look, grandma! I’m with royalty now! His Royal Awesomeness Crown Prince Alexander the Second of Serbia with Wife & Me at the royal palace in Belgrade, 2014.

For years growing up, I thought that getting a university degree and graduate at a film school of some repute would be my railroad express to fortune, fame and changing the world. I thought that was how I would be sharing my ideas and thoughts with the world.

It quickly became painfully clear to me that university was not the promised land after 19 years of obligatory educational hell in a small town in the sticks after all. It was just more of the same that I already had learned to hate – everything that is still wrong with education today.

Hustling at Cologne’s own legendary annual tech startup conference “European Pirate Summit”

In my second year, I did a calculation on the student debt I would have accumulated on graduating versus the probability of becoming the next Steven Spielberg or David Lynch – and fell into a deep disillusioned depression.

Then reality set in the commercial Internet hit Norway in 1996 and I dropped out to cash in.

Yes, I think education as we know it today is fucked. And to the point of taking action to help changing entrepreneurial education in my local environment.

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I then went on to found blacktar.com in 1997, co-found the Plone CMS, together with Alan Runyan and Alexander Limi in and around 2000 and in 2010 the Social Media Lunch Cologne,  2011 the already 200+ members strong and growing Hacker News Cologne Meetup and Gauss – The People Magnet happened. 2012 I co-founded Startup Weekend Cologne and became an instructor for NEXT Cologne and co-founded ‘OneSec – An Instagram for one second videos‘ partly on a lark, partly as an experiment in crowd funding about half a year before Vine happened – and more.

Past Professional Career

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Since 1996 I’ve perpetrated a ridiculous amount of hours creating software to make work suck less, from behind NDAs and corporate firewalls, prostituting contracting for governments, national companies and global corporations. Yes, I am guilty of doing work for big telcos, big oil and big publishers. (The latter probably being the bigger evil if you ask me).

Hanging with my friend Chris at nestGSV, Silicon Valley

Hanging with my friend – the legend – Chris Shipley at nestGSV, Silicon Valley

With only one short exception, I’ve mostly worked for small upstarts on and off with my own entrepreneurial breaks in between. It conditioned me to a “normal” where wearing multiple hats, filling multiple roles, being accountable and responsible – and just getting shit done regardless of previous skill set or job title, learning by the seat of my pants – because there were no one else there to do it for me; One moment I’m doing menial tasks, the other creating solutions to problems never before solved with technology and pitching global corporations and governments for millions in contracts. I never knew “work” as anything but this.

I helped write, pitch, win and negotiate multi-million Euro bids to tender – and manage the projects- before the age of 25. I  have over 20.000 hours of flight time solving problems with software. In the bear share of my professional career I had precious little life outside “work”. It’s a sad fact. However, it rarely felt like “work” – mostly just a continuous stream of problems to be solved in new and interesting ways. Usually with something named “employer”, “customer” or “politics” getting in the way of quality, of true excellence.

Somehow I survived the roller coaster Internet bubble ride v1.0 unscathed and without ever receiving a dotcom cent. Yes, there were some obligatory options. Yes, of course they went bankrupt. Yes, I’m not bitter.

Moderating the regular startup pitch event Rheinland-Pitch in Cologne, DE

Moderating the regular startup pitch event Rheinland-Pitch in Cologne, DE

I don’t know about you, but I never liked being told by others what to do – especially by dispassionate, meritless suits. And I don’t take orders and I take issue with rules, so early in my professional career I thought I’d be happier becoming the suit in management telling others what to do instead of being stuck with executing their politicalized and weak compromises, their product decisions by committee, fueled by technical ignorance and incompetence serving only their agendas of personal promotion – or worse, just for cashing out that monthly paycheck.

Winner, most innovative German business 2011. Mentored by Zach.

Winner c’n’b conference 2011, most innovative German business. Mentored by Zach.

Thus I climbed the proverbial well-lubricated salaryman pole and became “the man” – and realize that I hated being it. Not so much for telling people what to do – I still love that find that a useful application of my faculties – but for the shift of focus and responsibility from innovating and creating something new in the world to just manage and optimize the status quo and minimizing risks and costs.

Not so much for the pay – it was pretty awesome – but it sure wasn’t “Fuck-You Money”. And after reaching a certain threshold, I learned that the rise in monthly salary didn’t make me any happier. Nor was it worth the time of my life wasted.

Nor did it help me change the world.

A Winner at The Success Theatre

A Winner at The Success Theatre: Pitching @ Nordic Startup Awards 2012 Finals in Copenhagen, DK

My Biggest Mistake

“I don’t care if you’re a billionaire. If you haven’t started a company, really gambled your resume and your money and maybe even your marriage to just go crazy and try something on your own, you’re no pirate and you aren’t in the club.”
Michael Arrington

In hindsight, staying an employee for so long and playing along in the rat race game is the biggest mistake I’ve made in life so far. But on the other hand, I wouldn’t have been where I am – who I am today – if it hadn’t been for those experiences and the opportunities given to me along the way to work on big projects for big customers together with great people.

But somebody told me “just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean that you should be doing it”. So in 2010 I decided to stop.

And thus I returned to my entrepreneurial self.

“I am down to 10 US dollars but have developed a theory which will go down as Thompson’s law of travel economics. To wit: Full speed ahead and damn the cost; It will all come out in the wash.”
Hunter S. Thompson

Andersen playing Anderson: Moderating TEDx in Hamburg, DE

Andersen playing Anderson: Moderating TEDx in Hamburg, DE

Since then, I’ve received several highly generous  offers to come back to the  world of employment as all sorts of C-level titles. I hope to prove I’m right in turning them all down…

Don’t let these things or anything you read on the intarwebs fool you – I am used to be a notorious underachiever. I am was a professional – albeit in retrospect highly productive – coaster.

Further Trivia

Most of the time I feel like an introvert that’s somehow successfully masquerading as an extrovert so I guess I’m probably more of an ambivert. And to everybody’s surprise (especially my own) I score crazy high on high-functioning autism, Asperger, Bipolar Type 2 and ADHD tests.

I see numbers as colors and for a long time I thought everybody does. I only discovered later in life that there’s a word for it: Synesthesia (Wikipedia).

My sister & me - Probably from around 1980.

My sister & me around 1980.

I owe whatever streak of creativity you think I might possess to my father’s genes, a nationally recognized artist and a veteran AD/CD of the Norwegian ad industry that won about every award there is to win, and every single entrepreneurial one to my mother, a feminist pioneer inventing and founding her own independent franchise business in a time where women – even in Scandinavia – were still expected to be stay-at-home moms or at the very least take cookie-cutter jobs.

My biggest pride and joy in life is my sister – the graduate in the family and the most wonderful mother to the most fabulous nephew and niece ever.

My beloved late uncle, Torodd Olsen

My uncle in London in the late 70s or early 80s

I have no role models or idols except for my late engineer uncle. He was gone much too soon. I like to think that some of his passion for tinkering, building stuff and genuine child-like interest in other people lives on in me. I will forever miss him.

“Crazy magnetic viking guy. [...] OK. You should come and do the talk instead of me. Stand up!” -Yossi Vardi, the kindest man I’ve met so far on my journeys, that time he let me pitch my startup in the middle of his CampusParty 2012 keynote speech.

I haven’t have a landline telephone since I got my first mobile phone in 1994, I haven’t owned a TV since 2004, I’m a shareholder in the Aston Villa Supporter’s Foundation and a member of the ACLU, although I’m a paternalistic libertarian in the sense of the authors of Nudge and not a liberal. I am a sceptic, an atheist, a supporter of separation of church and state, KBHC supporter, member of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science and a card carrying member of EFF.

My first company blacktar.com once held a 10/10 Google PageRank back in the days when that metric was a thing.

I’m into entrepreneurship, making a dent and changing the world, removing gatekeepers,  disrupting status quo, behavioral economics, cinema, storytelling, knowledge, (hard) science, reading, photography, design, MUSIC!, Open Source, the global village (you know, the Marshall McLuhan kind), innovation, usability, Squash, inline skating, swimming and you – Yes, YOU – so let’s talk.

Axes of evil

My axes of evil

Music is my hot hot sex. Entitlement, non-artists (aka people who don’t experiment and risk some level of personal failure), people who don’t know how to use “The Google” (aka keep asking annoyingly simple questions that a one second Google search will answer), people who only talk about people and new (aka never discuss high-level ideas and concepts) and people who have no understanding of or no operating proficiency of tacit knowledge (aka learning by doing, not by following pre-taught recipes) are my biggest turnoffs.

I’m trilingual; Norwegian, English and German. Sometimes I think in one language, speak in another, write in the third and dream in all.

“Let’s face it. It’s the tension of life that keeps the light in a man’s eyes, and keeps the foam in his nuts. It’s really the only thing you cannot afford to lose.”

Hunter S. Thompson

Let’s Connect

I have no agenda other than participating in this global village, the global conversation. Actually, this blog soap box is probably more about you than it is about me. I’m sincerely interested in getting to know what’s on your mind. Don’t hesitate to reach out and get in touch! I’m convinced you have some great stories to tell and I’m super excited to hear them! Don’t be a stranger – say hello and let’s grab a coffee or a beer if you’re around.

I’m quite the accessible geek.

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Hanging with Mr. Nice Guy himself, Gary Vaynerchuk at SxSW 2012, Austin TX

E-Mail

Voice FaceTime/iMessage/iPhone EU – +49 151 40 133 149

Skype – blacktar

GTalk / Hangout – blacktar

Twitter @blacktar

Facebook

Foursquare

Instagram

Google+

flickr

TED

SoundCloud

Bitcoin (breakpoint hyphen for layout purposes)
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YouTube

TripIt 

And so on and so forth.. . Just search for ‘blacktar‘ or ‘Vidar Andersen‘ and feel free to get in touch – I’m quite sociable.

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Caveat Emptor

I would like to state – for the record – that the content published on this blog are my own private opinions and may contain adult colourful [as well as incredibly childish and/or confusing] language.

There be all sorts of cookies, muffins and analytics in them here blogs – Continued use of this blog equals your acceptance and compliance. It’s also hosted in the US so this is probably all the warning you’re about to get right here (bring your own tinfoil hat). Buy hey! ‘Dem cookies be free of carbs – so enjoy. Om nom nom.

I hope it’s self evident and makes sense to you that I can’t and won’t take any moral or legal responsibility for any external stuff that I link to.

The hosting of this blog is paid for (or at least I’m trying to) by Amazon affiliate links. No evil stuff. Ever.

The stuff hosted on this blog is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license if not otherwise explicitly indicated.

Other copyrights and licensing may apply to embedded / externally hosted stuff.

All Gatekeepers Must Go