The Nordic Model

A Conversation With Niklas Zennstrom

Niklas Zennstrom

  • Country: Sweden
  • Title: Entrepreneur
  • Education: Uppsala University, University of Michigan
  • Known For: Co-Creating Skype
  • Website: Zennstrom Philanthropies

A native of Jarfalla, Sweden, Niklas Zennstrom studied business, engineering physics, and computer science at Uppsala University and the University of Michigan. In the mid-1990s, while heading up the Danish division of the Swedish telecommunications firm Tele2, he hired Janus Friis to run customer support, and soon the two of them decided to collaborate as entrepreneurs. They founded the peer-to-peer file-sharing company Kazaa in 2000 and the Internet telephone company Skype in 2003. In 2006, Zennstrom started Atomico, a firm that invests in innovative technology companies around the world. And in 2007, with his wife, Catherine, he started Zennstrom Philanthropies, which focuses on human rights and the environment. He Skyped with Foreign Affairs editor Gideon Rose in early November.

What are the most important qualities for a successful entrepreneur to have? Courage—because as an entrepreneur, you’re trying to do something that no one has done before, and a lot of people

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