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Niklas Zennström

Niklas Zennström

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Niklas Zennström is an entrepreneur best known for founding several high-profile online ventures with Janus Friis
Janus Friis
Janus Friis is a Danish entrepreneur best known for co-founding the file-sharing application KaZaA, and the peer-to-peer telephony application Skype. In September 2005, he and his partner Niklas Zennström sold Skype to eBay for $2.6B...

 including Skype
Skype
Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice and video calls and chat over the Internet. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free, while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones can be made for a fee using a debit-based user account system...

 and Kazaa. More recently he founded the investment group Atomico
Atomico
Atomico is an international technology venture capital firm headquarted in London, with offices in Shanghai and São Paulo.The company focuses on new consumer technologies that have the potential to transform markets, and places an emphasis on strong management teams.Its co-founder and CEO is Niklas...

 and has become a significant figurehead for entrepreneurs in the tech sector.

Career


Zennström started his professional career at the European telecom operator Tele2
Tele2
Tele2 AB is a major European telecommunications operator, with about 34 million customers in 11 countries. It serves as a fixed-line telephone operator, cable television provider, mobile phone operator and Internet service provider.- Overview :...

. He went on to serve in various business development roles including launching and being responsible for European Internet Service Provider business get2net and as CEO of the everyday.com portal.

In 2001 Zennström and Friis co-founded Kazaa, the peer-to-peer file sharing
Peer-to-peer file sharing
P2P or Peer-to-peer file sharing allows users to download files such as music, movies, and games using a P2P software client that searches for other connected computers. The "peers" are computer systems connected to each other through internet. Thus, the only requirements for a computer to join...

 application. Niklas served as CEO and the program became the world's most downloaded Internet software in 2003. After lawsuits were filed by members of the music and motion picture industry in the USA, Kazaa was sold to Sharman Networks
Sharman Networks
Sharman Networks is a company headquartered in Australia and incorporated in Vanuatu. It owns the rights to the KaZaA file sharing software...

.

Zennström then founded and served as CEO at Joltid, a software company developing and marketing peer-to-peer solutions and traffic optimization technologies. Zennström also co-founded Altnet, the world's first secure peer-to-peer network promoting commercial content to consumers integrating promotion, distribution, and payment of digital content.

Zennström and Friis' most notable success to date is Skype, a telephony company based on peer-to-peer principles. On 14 October 2005 Skype was acquired by eBay
EBay
eBay Inc. is an American internet consumer-to-consumer corporation that manages eBay.com, an online auction and shopping website in which people and businesses buy and sell a broad variety of goods and services worldwide...

 for €2.1 billion ($2.6 billion) plus the potential to earn further performance-based bonuses up to €1.2bn. Zennström was CEO from Skype's inception until September 2007. During that time, Skype became the global leader in Internet voice communications with more than 309m registered users within five years of launch.

After the sale of Skype, Zennström and Friis went on in 2007 to launch Joost
Joost
Joost is an Internet TV service, created by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis . During 2007-8 Joost used peer-to-peer TV technology to distribute content to their Mozilla-based desktop player; in late 2008 this was migrated to use a Flash-based Web player instead.Joost began development in 2006...

, an online video distribution service (where Zennström was co-chairman).

In 2009 Zennström was part of the investment consortium that bought Skype from eBay and has now re-joined the Skype board. Skype posted Q3 2009 earnings of $185m and 521m registered users.

Currently, Zennström runs Atomico
Atomico
Atomico is an international technology venture capital firm headquarted in London, with offices in Shanghai and São Paulo.The company focuses on new consumer technologies that have the potential to transform markets, and places an emphasis on strong management teams.Its co-founder and CEO is Niklas...

. Based in London, the firm primarily invests in fast growing tech companies with the ability to transform their respective industries. Through Atomico
Atomico
Atomico is an international technology venture capital firm headquarted in London, with offices in Shanghai and São Paulo.The company focuses on new consumer technologies that have the potential to transform markets, and places an emphasis on strong management teams.Its co-founder and CEO is Niklas...

 they have invested in over 30 companies, including MadBid, Last.fm
Last.fm
Last.fm is a music website, founded in the United Kingdom in 2002. It has claimed 30 million active users in March 2009. On 30 May 2007, CBS Interactive acquired Last.fm for UK£140m ....

, Fon
FON
Fon is a company that operates a system of dual access wireless networks. Fon is the largest Wi-Fi network in the world, with over 4 million hotspots....

, Xobni
Xobni
Xobni is a San Francisco-based company that makes software applications and services including products for Microsoft Outlook and mobile devices. It was founded in March 2006 by Adam Smith and Matt Brezina from Adam's dorm room in Cambridge, Massachusetts as part of the Y Combinator summer...

, Technorati
Technorati
Technorati is an Internet search engine for searching blogs. By June 2008, Technorati was indexing 112.8 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media...

, Heysan, Rdio
Rdio
Rdio is an ad-free music subscription service available in the United States, Canada and Brazil. It is available as a website and also has clients for the iPhone, iPod Touch & iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone mobile devices, which can play streaming music or cache songs for offline...

 and Woome.

On the 10th of May 2011 Skype was purchased by Microsoft for a supposed $8.5 billion in its biggest ever cash deal. It is reported that Zennström and Friis will make approximately $1bn between them from the sale.

Education


Zennström has dual degrees in Business Administration (BSc) and Engineering Physics (MSc) from Uppsala University
Uppsala University
Uppsala University is a research university in Uppsala, Sweden, and is the oldest university in Scandinavia, founded in 1477. It consistently ranks among the best universities in Northern Europe in international rankings and is generally considered one of the most prestigious institutions of...

 in Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. He spent his final year at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.

Atomico


Atomico is a investment group focused on the technology sector. The firm looks to invest in fast-growing technology companies that have innovative business models or new enabling technologies.

Philanthropy


Together with his wife Catherine, he founded Zennström Philanthropies to direct their charitable giving in the fields of climate change, human rights and social entrepreneurship. Niklas is specifically engaged in combating climate change and improving the state of the Baltic Sea.

Personal interests


Zennström is a keen yachtsman and his 72ft mini maxi
Maxi yacht
A maxi yacht usually refers to a racing sailboat of at least in length. It is also a Swedish brand of smaller sailing yachts.-Origin:The term maxi originated with the International Offshore Rule rating system, which in the 1970s and 1980s measured offshore racing yachts and applied a...

 Rán II (Judel/Vrolijk design, 2009) competes in the World's major offshore races. Rán II was the overall winner of the Rolex Fastnet Race
Fastnet race
The Fastnet Race is a famous offshore yachting race. It is considered one of the classic offshore races. It takes place every two years over a course of . The race starts off Cowes on the Isle of Wight in England, rounds the Fastnet Rock off the southwest coast of Ireland and then finishes at...

 in 2009 and 2011. In her first season Rán II topped the IRC rankings in her division. She campaigns around the world and has travelled to Australia to compete in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, starting in Sydney, Australia on Boxing Day and finishing in Hobart. The race distance is approximately...

 on two occasions to date. In 2010 she won the inaugural Mini Maxi World Championship. Zennström's newest yacht Rán IV (TP52
TP 52 (yacht)
The Transpac 52 is a class of yacht used for competitive yacht racing. The class is recognised by the International Sailing Federation which entitles the class to hold an Official World Championships.-History:...

 design by Judel/Vrolijk, 2011) was launched in Palma to take part in the highly competitive Audi MedCup
Audi MedCup
The Audi MedCup is a sailing competition which began in 2005 and has turned into the world’s leading regatta circuit.It is sailed in the TP52 and Soto 40 classes ....

.

Interviews


External links