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Janus Friis

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Janus Friis
Born (1976-06-26) 26 June 1976 (age 47)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Known forCo-founder of Skype, KaZaA and Rdio

Janus Friis (Danish: [ˈjɛːnus ˈfʁiˀs]; born 26 June 1976)[1] 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 business partner Niklas Zennström sold Skype to eBay for $2.6B. Friis has maintained ownership interest in Skype through Silver Lake Partners,[2] which sold Skype to Microsoft for $8.5 billion (~$11.4 billion in 2023), in May 2011.[3]

Friis and Zennström also developed Joost—an interactive software application for distributing TV shows and other forms of video content over the Web. The assets of this service were sold to Adconion Media Group in November 2009.[4] Independently, Friis founded video streaming startup Vdio in 2011.[5]

Friis and Ahti Heinla founded Starship Technologies in 2014, to develop small self-driving delivery robots.[6]


Friis had no formal higher education, dropping out of high school before starting a job at the help desk of CyberCity, one of Denmark's first Internet service providers. He met Zennström in 1996. At that time, Zennström headed Tele2 in Denmark, and Friis was hired to run its customer support.[7] Friis and Zennström worked together at Tele2 to launch get2net, another Danish ISP, and the portal everyday.com.

After this, the partners decided to leave Tele2. Friis moved into Zennström's small apartment in Amsterdam in January 2000 where they started developing KaZaA,[8] the company responsible for the most popular software for use with the FastTrack file sharing network protocol. Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström developed the FastTrack protocol in 2001.[9]

From the success of KaZaA's peer-to-peer technology the duo co-founded Joltid, a software company developing and marketing peer-to-peer solutions and peer-to-peer traffic optimization technologies to companies.

Friis is also co-founder of Altnet, a network that sells commercial music to KaZaA users.

Friis founded the online music streaming service Rdio with Zennström in 2010. It filed for bankruptcy in November 2015 and announced the sale of assets to Pandora Radio for $75 million (~$94.3 million in 2023).[10]

In 2012, Friis co-founded Wire, a secure collaboration platform that uses end-to-end encryption to protect digital assets.[11]

Friis and Ahti Heinla founded Starship Technologies in 2014, to develop small self-driving delivery robots. In September 2016, the robots took the streets in San Francisco in a test authorized by the city.[12]


Friis was named in Time Magazine's list of 100 most influential people in 2006.[13]

In 2006 Janus Friis got the prestigious award “IT-prisen” ("The IT Prize") in his home country, given by the Danish IT industry and IDG, for his work and innovation.

He and Zennström were also the co-recipients of the 2006 Wharton Infosys Business Transformation Award, given to business and individuals who have used information technology in a way that changed an industry or society as a whole.

Personal life[edit]

He was engaged to Danish recording artist Aura Dione but the couple split up in April 2015.[14]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ tvweek.com Archived 2009-11-22 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "About Skype: What is Skype?". Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
  3. ^ "Skype: The inside story of the boffo $8.5 billion deal". Fortune. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  4. ^ Wauters, Robin. "Joost Is Now Officially Dead – Assets Acquired By Adconion Media Group". TechCrunch. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  5. ^ "Gigaom | The industry leader in emerging technology research". gigaom.com. Archived from the original on 3 November 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  6. ^ Curtis, Sophie. "Skype founders invent self-driving robot that can deliver groceries for £1". telegraph.co.uk. Archived from the original on 3 November 2015. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  7. ^ Zennström: "Jag behöver ingen lön" Archived 2008-12-07 at the Wayback Machine. Dagens Industri. Retrieved on 2008-03-22.
  8. ^ Zennströms miljardärsresa Archived 2008-12-07 at the Wayback Machine. Dagens Industri. Retrieved on 2008-03-22.
  9. ^ United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2004). E-Commerce and Development Report 2004. United Nations Publications. p. 82. ISBN 9211126533. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  10. ^ Lunden, Ingrid (16 November 2015). "Pandora To Buy Rdio Assets For $75M In Cash, Rdio Files Ch.11, Will Shutter Service". TechCrunch. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  11. ^ "'Wire': Skype co-founder Janus Friis launches ultra-private messaging, with video". 12 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Starship robots try out deliveries on SF sidewalks". 21 September 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  13. ^ Gosling, James (8 May 2006). "The Skype Guys". Time. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  14. ^ "Slut for Aura og Skype-milliardær". Retrieved 12 October 2017.

External links[edit]