myfirstminute in conversation with Niklas Zennström

  • Niklas’ first company Kazaa, a P2P file sharing company, ran into a series of legal challenges — it is particularly difficult to build a viable business and raise capital if you have litigious counterparts in your industry.
  • Skype had a clear case to disrupt the telecom industry as tariffs were not adjusted to a digital infrastructure and there was no natural monopoly; disruption was achieved by bottom up consumer demand for Skype’s disruptive product, which telco’s could not control. However, this then brought the telco’s to the negotiating table which led to Skype partnering with the wholesale divisions of telecom incumbents, creating a win-win situation by increasing traffic for telcos.
  • Acting sustainably and ethically used to be counterintuitive for for-profit businesses given pressure to drive shareholder value above all; this leads to short-term thinking and, in many cases, a negative impact on the environment.
  • Consumers are now opting for sustainable products and services and demand transparency and ethical business practices — and so are investors.
  • The shift is trickling through the supply chain: Large corporates are increasingly only working with sustainable suppliers and are conscious about who they engage with.
  • Companies without a sustainability purpose increasingly struggle to attract top talent as the smartest people now refuse to work for unethical companies.
  • As an investor, Niklas looks for entrepreneurs who take a long-term view and have a clear vision of what the world will look like in the future. He is specifically looking for individuals who can articulate their vision clearly and have a clear path on how to get there; great leaders come in all shapes, sizes, talents and demeanors but this passion and clarity distinguishes the winners who inspire great teams.
  • Many corporates, but especially family-owned businesses, are increasingly taking longer-term views and are aware they will struggle if without a clear vision of how they can contribute to tackling climate change.

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Hendrik Jandel

Hendrik Jandel

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Founders Intelligence | Strategy Consulting, Technology Investments & Acquisitions, New Ventures