Niklas Zennström

Niklas Zennström
Niklas Zennström
Born 16 February 1966 (1966-02-16) (age 45)
Occupation Entrepreneur and Investor

Niklas Zennström (born 16 February 1966) is an entrepreneur best known for founding several high-profile online ventures with Janus Friis including Skype and Kazaa. More recently he founded the investment group Atomico and has become a significant figurehead for entrepreneurs in the tech sector.



Zennström started his professional career at the European telecom operator Tele2. 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 portal.

In 2001 Zennström and Friis co-founded Kazaa, the peer-to-peer file sharing 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.

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 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, 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. Based in London, the firm primarily invests in fast growing tech companies with the ability to transform their respective industries. Through Atomico they have invested in over 30 companies, including MadBid,, Fon, Xobni, Technorati, Heysan, Rdio 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.


Zennström has dual degrees in Business Administration (BSc) and Engineering Physics (MSc) from Uppsala University in Sweden. He spent his final year at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.


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.


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 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 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 on two occasions to date. In 2010 she won the inaugural Mini Maxi World Championship. Zennström's newest yacht Rán IV (TP52 design by Judel/Vrolijk, 2011) was launched in Palma to take part in the highly competitive Audi MedCup.


  • The Sunday Times (November 27, 2005) [1]
  • Business Week (September 19, 2005) [2]
  • The Guardian (July 14, 2005) [3]
  • PCTechTalk (July 10, 2005) [4]
  • BusinessWeek Online (May 30, 2005) [5]
  • IDG News Service (March 16, 2005) [6]
  • PC Pro (March 11, 2005) [7]
  • TMCnet (March 2, 2005) [8]
  • Engadget (November 8, 2004) [9]
  • Pocket PC Thoughts (September 3, 2004) [10]

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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