The countdown has begun: 10 minutes before the beginning of the eco online birthday party, and the excitement in the studio is palpable. It is 26 June 2020. Exactly 25 years ago to this day, a group of determined Internet pioneers, including the current eco CEO Harald A. Summa, founded the “Electronic Commerce Forum”, eco for short. The aim was to make the then new Internet shine among German companies, to bring together companies interested in the commercial use of this highly innovative technology, and to get them engaged with one another. Today eco is the largest association of the Internet industry in Europe, with more than 1,100 members.
The association celebrated its 25 year anniversary with a major online birthday show on 26 June. To take account of the contact restrictions of the Corona pandemic, the originally planned “in-person” party was deferred. The live-stream, which hundreds of eco members, partners, and companions joined, started at 2.30 p.m., moderated by Lucia Falkenberg. Over the following one and a half hours, participants were blown away by the reality of just how impressively the eco Association and the Internet itself have developed in 25 years. “In the beginning, we had the idea of promoting the Internet in Germany, and eco was literally founded around the kitchen table”, recollected the eco CEO Harald A. Summa. “Back then, I only managed with some difficulty to drum up the seven members necessary for the foundation of an association. That was the beginning of eco.”
Congratulations from Internet pioneers and politicians
In addition to Harald A. Summa, other outstanding minds in the field of digitalisation looked back on 25 years of commercial Internet in Germany: Michael Rotert, Tim Cole, Michael Schneider, and Sebastian von Bomhard were on location in the studio or joined via video link-up. Congratulations videos were sent by NRW Digital Minister Prof. Andreas Pinkwart and the Lord Mayor of Cologne Henriette Reker.
“The Internet has the potential to change our lives, our society and our work in a lasting manner”, said eco Chair Oliver Süme in his welcoming address. For eco, this means that the Internet must be designed in the interest of people, even beyond laws and regulations. For this reason, the motto of the eco anniversary is “25 Years of Internet with Responsibility”.
Music should be a part of birthday celebrations – and at eco this is especially true. The band Maceedo enriched the entertaining programme with their jazzy intermezzos. A troupe of artists from Chapeau Bas also provided entertainment.
Sponsors support eco anniversary
Birthday wishes were also offered by the sponsors of eco’s anniversary campaign “Digital Discovery”, with these sponsors presented by eco Managing Director Alexander Rabe: Toplink GmbH, Huawei Technologies, Microsoft, Leaseweb, and Netcologne congratulated eco live on site or via video clips.
After the ceremonial presentation of an eco://award to Harald A. Summa and Michael Rotert for their pioneering work, there was also – it goes without saying – a birthday cake. After extinguishing the 25 candles, Harald A. Summa then raised a glass with the audience to another 25 years of eco. In the run-up to the live stream, the necessary celebratory goods (balloons, confetti, popcorn and wine) had been dispatched to the spectators via post. Finally, Harald A. Summa thanked all spectators, companions and supporters for 25 years of eco. As soon as it is possible again to celebrate in larger groups, eco would like to celebrate the birthday party together in person.