Walter De Brouwer
Chief Executive Officer
"They're all dreaming, everybody's dreaming, but I'm dreaming the hardest"
- Marilyn Monroe

Well, we'd have to say glorious things about the man, wouldn't we? After all, he's the man in charge. 
He was born in Aalst, East Flanders, and it was the Flemish who pioneered the 'warts and all' portrait. That is why he loves a remark his wife has made: 'Walter is an anarchist - as long as he's the boss'. He thinks that's a good joke - everybody enjoys humour, but De Brouwer's loud laugh is legendary, especially when the gags are accurate, are fresh, and are made up of some startling paradox. 
Actually, these days, Walter De Brouwer is dreaming the hardest. For a long while he expressed his distaste for hasty, result-driven research by quoting the slogan 'We promise never to make anything that works'. In his public presentations he pulls listeners up short by refusing to affirm the virtues of teamwork; it is individualism that he wants to promote, since he knows that 100 brilliant solo singers can make a very special choir. Among many other surprising notions he has dreamed up is his determination not to avoid problems. Indeed it is with his encouragement that researchers at Starlab actively seek problems - the more fundamental and new the problem may be, the more it is relished. For Walter, Starlab may actually be defined as a place where new problems are addressed, new questions are asked and new thoughts are minted. It is also a place where old ideas are re-examined, modified, reconsidered, altered and improved. 
To begin with there were some who had qualms, which no 'warts and all' portrait could ignore. In most cases paradoxes reared their heads, and what people criticised us for, Walter De Brouwer actively cultivated. He is phenomenally quick-witted; he makes far-sighted decisions faster than the speed of light. Why would he preach long-term thinking, sober reflection and a slow and steady consideration of the Deep Future? Because some serious problems need extended attention to be paid to them, and because' contradictions are our hope. Why would Walter pick as his heroes the physicist, bongo-player and party boy Richard Feynman or the chubby maths prodigy Ramanujan? Because they were 'half-Gods', geniuses who came from ordinary beginnings, real people; because they were human. Why on earth would Walter'be bold enough to use the example of Madonna as a business model? Because she has been consistently brave, because she has managed to stay at the top for the long haul, because she has made her own rules, and because she has constantly invented and reinvented herself.

Walter was trained as a philologist/mathematician and was a researcher for six years, but in 1990, he left academia to become a businessman. His company, Riverland, became the leading publisher of IT magazines in the Benelux. VNU bought the portfolio in December 1995, leaving Walter De Brouwer with enough money to start a period of extreme entrepeneurship which led to the foundation of a wide range of companies mostly under the Riverland banner that were successively sold, some even became parts of big IPO’s. Riverland Networks was sold to Wegener-Arcade, Riverland Consultants to TEQ, Caulfield & Tensing merged into the stable of BBDO, Ping was sold to Eunet International and later emerged as KPNQwest, Eunet International itself was sold to Qwest Communications, Riverland Next Generation and Riverland Holding were sold to Keyware, and Jobscape was taken over by Stepstone before the float.

After this Walter's investments became more and more entrenched in the financial world: IPOscoQe (Belgium, ex-Easdaq founder), Business Models (VC, France), Pythagoras (VC, Belgium), Roccia Ventures (VC, South America), via Mammelfish (USA). He does not cultivate a lot of advisory board functions but keeps just a few: for investments in biotech and IT in Petercam, the largest independent member firm of the Brussels Stock Exchange, for Zomedia (UK) a company that will surprise the world of TV and for Yeahlab (Holland) on mobile bandwith among others. In 1996 Walter set up STARLAB. Starlab is unique in Europe and pretty rare wherever you go as a centre for basic research. It was in Walter's mind at the time he established the institute that, 
whether or not any disaster struck our planet, he would be able to house under one roof enough brainpower and knowledge to kick- start our civilisation. He also wanted it to be 'payback time' for scientists and scholars who had not been sports heroes at school and had not been rewarded for their discoveries. Starlab would embody the 'revenge of the supernerds', and central to its operation would be the bringing of entrepreneurship to'science and science to entrepreneurship. Walter de Brouwer loves the atmosphere of Europe, with its traditions, its understanding that 100 years means nothing, its lawns and forests take time to grow, its slow food, fine wines and scintillating, cultured conversations. 

His mother always told him that he would find the right woman one day. What she did not tell him was that it would take him more than 30 years and a lot of misery to find her. But she was worth the wait. 
Walter De Brouwer is 44 and has three children. He wants them to think that 'Daddy was a rolling stone.' What they will know is that Daddy gained a great deal of the best kind of moss, that their Daddy was doing what he did because of their futures and because of the futures of their children, grand children and great- great- great- great grandchildren to come, and that their Daddy spent his life in the hope that future businesses will be called to account in terms of three standards: economical, ethical and environmental. 
What Walter De Brouwer's children will know is that Daddy was fully prepared to be seen as he really was 'warts and all', and that he spent his days working, thinking, planning, partying, laughing, and dreaming the hardest.

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