• Sweden edition
 
Skype founder: 'cold winters' key to Swedish tech success

Skype founder: 'cold winters' key to Swedish tech success

Published: 16 Feb 2012 17:26 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Feb 2012 17:26 GMT+01:00

Niklas Zennström is one of Sweden’s best known and most successful tech wizards, co-founder of Skype and Kazaa, and founder of the investment company Atomico.

On Wednesday, the tech-guru spoke at Stockholm University to "encourage students to pursue entrepreneurialism", share some his esteemed insights, and to offer a few predictions about there the market for high-tech gadgets is heading.

However, on a snowy day in the Swedish capital, he claimed it wasn’t just the economic climate that was the cause of Sweden’s start-up trends.

“When the weather’s like this outside, what else is there do to besides sitting inside and creating a business?” he said, in response to why Sweden has so many startup companies today.

“But really, Stockholm is one of the places that has become more attractive to go to, and this has nothing to do with the weather. It’s because there are a lot of new, interesting, and high-quality companies here."

According to Zennström, there are several other aspects to Swedish business culture which also helps drive entrepreneurship.

“Sweden is punching way above its weight with great companies in terms of quality. We are not so hierarchical, we like to be pragmatic. It’s a culture that’s suitable for creative-ism and for getting companies off the ground,” he said.

Andreas Ehn, co-founder of streaming music company Spotify was also on hand to discuss management, leadership, and his latest collaboration with the Skype giant.

Zennström’s venture capital firm, Atomico, which has invested in over 40 international companies, has most recently endorsed Ehn's latest venture - Wrapp.

Wrapp is an online mobile application specializing in gift cards and looks set to take over the world.

The product launched in November and has already received funding for $10 million. According to Ehn, the plan is for Wrapp to be accessible worldwide.

But a good idea doesn't necessarily mean success, Zennström was quick to add.

“You have to try a lot of times to succeed. Even if you play golf – I’m a lousy player myself – but I know that if I hit the ball enough times I’m going to have one very good shot, and the ball will eventually go a long distance. It’s like this with being an entrepreneur. The statistics are against you and you’re for sure more likely to fail - but it’s important to try,” he said.

Part of this success can be put down to team management, according to Zennström.

“Don’t be afraid of hiring people smarter than yourself," he said.

"Insecure people hire people who are less intelligent, and that just creates more work. Those who are comfortable with themselves aren’t insecure about not being the smartest, and so can succeed by leading the way.”

The idea of intelligence was touched by Ehn too, who pointed out that a good leader doesn't necessarily need to be the most knowledgeable.

“Management is a support function, people who are solving problems that are in the way – the experts will always have more knowledge about the problem at hand than you do, so let them make the decisions, and just make sure you’re leading them in the right direction,” said Ehn.

During a discussion session with the audience, many audience members asked for the pair's thoughts about the future of technology.

“Today, everything is mobile, and I don’t think we’ll go backwards from this. This is a transition from two or three years ago when companies saw mobiles as a centre of their strategy," said Zennström said.

"There will be a growth increase, and a price decrease in the mobile market. There will be a change with the emerging markets which will yield different behavioral patterns. There will be smartphones in Africa or in the countryside of Brazil, and they will be able to trade with their mobile. It’s about opportunity."

Spotify founder Ehn agreed.

“Smartphones will become the default window to the internet, not the computer. It will be the first interface if you’re building something new,” he said.

As the climates change and technology is embraced, both Zennström and Ehn were interested in their respective products’ usership.

It came as no surprise that a show of hands from the audience showed what appeared to be 100 percent usage of both Skype and Spotify.

As for Wrapp, the response was a little more sluggish, but both men were confident in the product’s future in what is estimated to be a $100 billion American gift card market.

But it’s not just about the financial success, according to Zennström.

“For me, one of the reasons I worked hard was the financial reward, as that was a scorecard at the end of the day and good for competitive drive. But, I also wanted to make an impact. Just seeing that the world uses Skype to communicate is personally really rewarding,” he said.

In light of this, Zennström offered some final words of advice.

"I think it’s important to promote entrepreneurship and to encourage people, and specifically students, to consider entrepreneurship, and not to go and work for a big bank or consulting firm or engineering company – but to think of joining a startup. This is something that’s important.”

Oliver Gee

twitter.com/theuppsalakoala

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

18:39 February 16, 2012 by apelsin000
Linus Torvalds also has brought up exactly the same point, so stop the global warming! LoL
22:15 February 16, 2012 by occassional
I am waiting for Jesse Jackson to kick hell about this cold weather = more entrepreneurial stuff. Wait for it.
06:00 February 17, 2012 by skatty
I prefer weather like Silicon Valley; life and business in a wonderful weather, warm and enjoyable; not cold and depressive, dark and boring for six months!

What the hell is the enjoyment of business in North Pole!
08:48 February 18, 2012 by Birbun
It's difficult to think a business in Sweden when the taxes are so high.

You're going to risk your time,money and job to practically work for the State and to keep on the parasites,the drunks,the immigrants and the welfare.

This isn't good.

The max taxation should be 10-15 % max.
12:49 February 19, 2012 by IranianAtheist
"The Skype software was created in Tallinn, Estonia by Estonians Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu and Jaan Tallinn." (from Wikipedia)
13:10 February 19, 2012 by Rick Methven
The software was developed in Estonia on the design of Zennström.

The design of any software system is the key part, the programming is secondary.

I have 4 major successful software systems that I have designed. Only one have I 100% designed and developed from concept to release, the others have been programmed by contracted developers.
Today's headlines
Politician reported for selling 'negro ball'
A selection of Swedish chocolate balls. Leif R Jansson/TT

Politician reported for selling 'negro ball'

The Afro-Swedish national association have reported a Swedish politician to the police for selling chocolate balls labelled as "old fashioned unprejudiced negro ball" saying it incites racial hatred. READ  

Five dead in 'black Friday' drownings
A life ring pictured in Stockholm. Maja Suslin/TT

Five dead in 'black Friday' drownings

Five people died in drowning related incidents on Friday, further raising the death toll of those lost in the water in July. READ  

Swedes insist EU prioritize environment

Swedes insist EU prioritize environment

An EU public opinion poll released on Friday revealed that Sweden is the only nation which thinks the environment should be a top priority for the union. READ  

Police turn blind eye to Swedish 'slave trade'
File photo: TT

Police turn blind eye to Swedish 'slave trade'

Police in Gothenburg have confirmed that sex trafficking in the city has developed into a full-blown slave trade - but that they lack the resources to do anything about it. READ  

Pirate Bay inmate claims religious persecution
Photo: TT/The Missionary Church of Kopimism

Pirate Bay inmate claims religious persecution

Peter Sunde has complained that his religious rights have been impinged after he was refused permission to meet a representative of a church inspired by the keyboard shortcuts for cut and paste. READ  

Stockholm 'bomb man' jailed and deported
Police at the scene of the threat in June. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Stockholm 'bomb man' jailed and deported

The 43-year-old man who threatened Stockholm's Gamla Stan with a bomb in June was sentenced on Friday to two years in jail, followed by deportation. READ  

Swedish police: 'We're sweaty all the time'
Swedish cops are unhappy with the heat. Photo: Håkan Dahlström/Flickr

Swedish police: 'We're sweaty all the time'

Swedish weather agencies say the summer's warmest day is yet to come, but police in the north have decided that they can't take the heat - and filed a report about the own stifling police station. READ  

SAS resumes flights from Stockholm to Tel Aviv
File photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

SAS resumes flights from Stockholm to Tel Aviv

SAS Scandinavian Airlines has resumed flights from Stockholm to Tel Aviv after the airline completed a 'thorough security analysis' of the situation in Israel. READ  

Swedish man stabs woman and kills himself
A Stockholm police car. File photo: TT

Swedish man stabs woman and kills himself

A man and a woman, reported to be both 45-years-old, were found dead on Thursday in an apartment on Lidingö in Stockholm with police suspecting a murder and suicide. READ  

Police fear arson after Sweden mosque fire
Central Norrköping in eastern Sweden. Photo: Stefan Vilcans

Police fear arson after Sweden mosque fire

Swedish police suspect arson after buildings at a mosque in Norrköping in eastern Sweden burned down in the early hours of Friday morning. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Top ten Swedish taboos
Society
Seven-year-old Swede cycles to Berlin
Politics
'Gaza conflict needs help, not empty rhetoric'
Society
Swedes voted 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Business & Money
Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax
Blog updates

24 July

Sharing our Pride: Celebrating Love & the LGBT Community! (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"It’s mid- July in Stockholm, and with much of the city on vacation, things can seem a little quiet – the streets, the bus, and the grocery store. One thing that has not paused for a summer break, though, is preparation for Stockholm’s Pride Festival, which will take place from July 28 to August 2...." READ »

 

22 July

Det (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! “Det” is a personal pronoun that can be used in many ways, and it might me confusing if you always translate “det” to English “it”. In this article I will do my best to guide you to how to use “det”. Det replacing a word, a phrase or a clause Let us begin with the less confusing..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Society
What's On in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching July 23
National
Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Society
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Gallery
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Tech
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
Lifestyle
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching July 15-16
Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
Society
What's On in Sweden
Photo: Lisa Mikulski
National
Hope springs eternal for expat pet shop owner
Gallery
Princess Estelle steals limelight at mum's birthday
National
Swedes risk infants' lives by covering up prams
National
Swede runs for office just using Bitcoin funds
Gallery
People-watching July 11-13
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

748
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se