Pioneers, a conference that has brought together European tech startups, investors and corporates at the beautiful Hofburg Palace in Vienna since 2012, is closing doors - at least for now. According to a German-only interview, the current owner of Pioneers - startup300 - has decided to shut down the event activities of Pioneers, effectively cancelling next year's main conference and associated side events.
When, two years ago, Pioneers announced the company was being acquired by startup300, it was a real cause for celebration and there was no sign of plans to drop the flagship event. At that time, Pioneers CEO Oliver Csendes shared with festival attendees and the media: “As part of the startup300 family, Pioneers can play an increasing role in the Austrian ecosystem, and thanks to its global status it can at the same time lend greater support to connecting the local scene internationally.”
And it did follow through on that during the time following the acquisition. Multiple events took place alongside the flagship event, with increased focus on govtech, health and mobility. However, the recent developments shed a different light on what seemed like a perfect match at the time. In his recent statement, Csendes is thanking Pioneers employees, volunteers and members of the management for “changing the dynamics for startups in Austria”, as the event department is being closed with some major cuts in the team.
"The environment for startup business events is extremely dynamic. In recent years, the ecosystem has changed fundamentally. The economic conditions in this area are becoming increasingly complex. We did not make the decision easy. We are fully aware of the responsibility to our team members and the entire Austrian startup community. However, for economic reasons and as part of a stepping up to the startup300 strategy, we have decided to take this step," explained Csendes in said statement.
The current owner, startup300, has recently announced in the press release "a change in event strategy" and because of the new strategic direction "the size and structure of the Pioneers team must also be redesigned". Affected by the redesigning are the employees of the Pioneers Events team, from the areas of Production, Operations, Marketing and Business Development.
"This step is tough, but unfortunately necessary," comments Michel Eisler, CEO of startup300.
“In the future, we will approach the subject of events in close cooperation with all companies and units of the startup300 group. What is certain is that we will continue to provide effective support to our primary target group, founders and startups," Eisler added.
The way startup300 sees the future focus of Pioneers and the support to founders and startups is through consulting and venture capital. That means giving more attention to its consulting arm Pioneers Discover and deal flow management platform Piobay, alongside the Pioneers Ventures II and recently unveiled Pioneers Ventures III funds.
No doubt, the stellar growth of major European tech conferences such as Web Summit and Slush, but also the emergence of a plethora of brand new startup and innovation-focused events, festivals and summits across the continent played a major role in the decision to scrap the Pioneers flagship event for next year.