Niklas Zennström

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Niklas Zennström
Zennström with Loic Le Meur in the background
Born (1966-02-16) 16 February 1966 (age 58)
Järfälla, Sweden
EducationUppsala University (BSc, MSc)
Occupation(s)Entrepreneur and investor
SpouseCatherine Zennström

Niklas Zennström (Swedish: [ˈnɪ̌kːlas ˈsɛ̂nːstrœm] ; born 16 February 1966) is a Swedish entrepreneur and technology investor. He is co-founder of the charity organization Zennström Philanthropies.


Zennström has dual degrees in Business Administration (BSc) and Engineering Physics (MSc) from Uppsala University.[1] He spent his final year of schooling at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, US.[citation needed]


Zennström started his professional career in 1991 at the European telecom operator Tele2. He went on to serve in various business development roles including launching and being responsible for the European Internet Service Provider business get2net and as CEO of the portal.

In 2000, Zennström and Janus Friis co-founded KaZaA, a peer-to-peer file sharing application. In 2003, with Zennström serving as CEO, the program became the world's most downloaded Internet software. After facing lawsuits filed by members of the United States' music and motion picture industry, Kazaa was sold to Sharman Networks.

Zennström then founded and served as CEO at Joltid, a software company meant to develop and market peer-to-peer solutions and traffic optimization technologies. He also co-founded Altnet, another peer-to-peer network.

Zennström is best known for founding Skype Technologies, a telecommunications company. In October 2005, Skype was acquired by eBay for €2.1 billion ($2.6 billion) with the potential to earn further performance-based bonuses up to €1.2bn. Zennström was CEO of Skype from its inception until September 2007. He went on to launch Joost in 2007, an online video distribution service.

In 2009, Zennström was part of the investment consortium that bought back Skype Technologies from eBay and re-joined the Skype board. In May 2011, Skype was purchased by Microsoft for $8.5 billion (~$11 billion in 2022). It is reported that Zennström and Friis made approximately $1bn between them from the sale.[2]

In November 2014, Zennström was inducted into SUP46's Swedish Startup Hall of Fame.[3]

Zennström is founder and former president of the European Tech Alliance (EUTA), a group of tech companies located around in Europe. The EUTA focusses on promoting Europe's tech industry.

Currently, Zennström runs Atomico, a London-based venture capital firm which primarily invests in tech companies. Through Atomico he has invested in over 200 companies on four continents, including Supercell, Rovio,, Klarna, and Skype.[citation needed]


With his wife Catherine, Zennström founded Zennström Philanthropies which funds and donates to causes like tackling climate change and social entrepreneurship.[4]

Honors and awards[edit]

Zennström was recognized by Time Magazine as one of its 100 Most Influential People in 2006, and has received numerous other awards for innovation and entrepreneurship.[5]

In 2006, he was voted Entrepreneur of the Year in the European Business Leaders Awards (EBLA).[6]

In October 2009, the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, awarded Zennström the KTH Great Prize "for his outstanding entrepreneurial and technological skills".[7]

In September 2011, Zennström received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Oxford University's Oxford Internet Institute.[8]

In February 2013, Zennström was awarded H. M. The King's Medal of 12th size with a bright blue ribbon for significant contributions to Swedish industry and society.[9]

In October 2013, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, IVA, awarded Zennström the gold medal for his "highly successful entrepreneurial achievements, creative innovation, high technical competence and outstanding leadership".[10]

Personal life[edit]

Zennström is married to Catherine Zennström. He is a keen yachtsman and has built and raced yachts in the TP 52 .[11][12]


  1. ^ "On donations: Niklas Zennström". Uppsala University. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  2. ^ Malik, Om (9 May 2011). "Why Microsoft Is Buying Skype for $8.5 Billion". Archived from the original on 6 June 2019. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  3. ^ "Niklas Zennström inducted into SUP46's Swedish Startup Hall of Fame as the startup hub celebrated its first year – Swedish Startup Space". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  4. ^ O'Hear, Steve (28 September 2018). "The Zennström manifesto". TechCrunch. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  5. ^ Gosling, James (8 May 2006). "The Skype Guys". Time. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  6. ^ Europe, CNBC (10 April 2007). "CNBC Europe Names the Top European Business Leaders for 2006". CNBC.
  7. ^ "KTH | the KTH Great Prize 2009 awarded to Niklas Zennström". Archived from the original on 11 October 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  8. ^ "Internet Entrepreneur Niklas Zennström Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oxford Internet Institute – Oxford Internet Institute". Archived from the original on 11 July 2016. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  9. ^ "Kungen delade ut medaljer – se film här – Sveriges Kungahus". Archived from the original on 19 July 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
  10. ^ "Sidan kunde inte hittas". Archived from the original on 22 January 2018. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  11. ^ Fretter, Helen (17 September 2019). "Ràn VII: On board the Stealth Bomber of the Fast 40+ class". Yachting World. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  12. ^ Korotaeva, Maria (9 May 2018). "Ran VII, the electric racing yacht from Skype billionaire Niklas Zennstrom". Charter World. Retrieved 20 July 2020.

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