Last July at TEDGlobal, I got into a late-night conversation with Mårten Mickos, who led the sale of software firm MySQL in 2008 for a neat $1 billion. The company -- set up by two Swedes and a Finn -- is celebrated alongside Skypeas an example of how Europe can build successful tech giants. So why, Mickos wondered, did so many of his new friends not want to know him when his earlier businesses had failed?
Failure, we agreed, was still too stigmatised in Europe to allow us to compete on equal terms with Silicon Valley. Outdated social attitudes were encouraging entrepreneurs to be risk-averse and limited in their ambitions, especially where bankruptcy carries heavy legal and cultural burdens (we're looking at you in particular, Berlin). If only fail…failure were more widely accepted as a standard part of an entrepreneur's journey, we declared, then Europe would take more of the leaps that would produce the next Facebooks and Apples. And so began the research that became Matt Cowan's inspiring cover story in this issue.At endless conferences since then, I've heard business founders from Reid Hoffman to Biz Stone urge European startups to be bolder in their approach. Sure, they may fail -- but if they fail fast and learn from it, they will be much more likely to win second time around. The personal experiences recounted here--from Alan Sugar, Jimmy Wales, Richard Moross and others -- are wonderfully honest, self-aware and direct. We hope they'll help change a few attitudes.
We have two cover stories this month: UK newsstand issues have a "Fail fast" theme, but overseas and subscriber copies tell the story of Badoo, the 120-million-member social network you probably don't yet know. Vote for your favourite cover in the poll below, or by downloading our new monthly iPadedition from the iTunes Store. It's not that we were indecisive -- we wanted twice as many chances to fail…..