U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell Walks the IFA 2018 Show Floor
For the first time since 2011, the sitting U.S. Ambassador to Germany stepped onto the Messe Berlin campus to take in the sights, sounds, and technologies on display at an IFA event. U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell arrived with an envoy of security and staff on Tuesday afternoon for a brief walking tour of IFA.
To think that anyone can walk the IFA floor in just a couple of hours is crazy, but in looking over the agenda that Grenell had laid out for himself, it’s clear what he wanted to accomplish. The tour focused on the IFA Next and iZone/Home Entertainment areas of the show, and each stop along the way gave him an opportunity to chat with a U.S.-based company that was here in Berlin showcasing their latest innovations.
"IFA was honored to welcome Ambassador Grenell to our fairgrounds here in Berlin,” Jens Heithecker, Executive Director of IFA, told Dealerscope. “This was a great opportunity for the ambassador to not only see the latest products and innovations that U.S. companies were showcasing here at IFA, but also how those companies are forging partnerships and co-innovating on the global stage. It became clear as the ambassador walked the IFA NEXT area and other halls of IFA that he has a passion for consumer electronics and a genuine care and understanding for the companies that he visited during his time with us."
Some of the stops along the tour were no-brainers, including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Dell. But Grenell also made a point to spend some time with some of the lesser-known U.S. exhibitors that were in Berlin, like personal robotics company Temi, smart baby monitor brand Nanit, mixed reality gaming company Merge VR, smartphone accessory maker Popsocket, and mobile accessories brand Scosche.
In all, Ambassador Grenell made roughly a dozen stops during his tour. And the one thing that stood out while walking around the fairgrounds with him to each of those stops is that he was able to really connect with each of the companies and individuals that he got to spend time with. If he’s not a genuine tech nerd like the rest of us are who attend and cover IFA, then he did a really good job of acting like one while visiting the show. But hearing the questions he asked of each company and the flow that those conversations had, I’d be hard pressed to believe Grenell, deep down, doesn’t have a passion for consumer tech.
In my own conversation with the Ambassador, I had the opportunity to talk briefly about IFA’s global expansion, which includes now our summer CE Week event in New York City. Familiar with the consumer tech market and other shows that take place in the U.S., the ambassador told me that there was a lot to be excited about with the prospect of the U.S. benefiting from a show like IFA and its focus on the business of consumer electronics. He seemed to grasp the importance of the show and what it means to the city of Berlin, so seeing something like that make its way across the Atlantic makes a lot of sense, he said.