Skype has long since passed the peak of its user numbers. Especially during the corona pandemic, apps like Zoom or Teams were preferred. For a long time, Skype was considered the number one app for video calls. But what are the founders of Skype actually doing today?
Skype Technologies was founded in July 2003 by entrepreneurs Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. The first public beta version of Skype went online on August 29, 2003. The application became a great success very quickly.
Skype has long been considered the epitome of video telephony. The name has become independent as a generic term among users. In May 2011, the big upheaval followed: Microsoft bought the company for around 8.5 billion US dollars. A little later, Skype was integrated into the Windows operating system.
Just before and during the corona pandemic, Skype has increasingly lost its importance, while services such as Zoom have been able to assert themselves. This was mainly due to the fact that Skype was running increasingly worse on mobile devices. The competition, in turn, was able to score points with simple systems.
Niklas Zennström: Swedish Skype co-founder and entrepreneur
Niklas Zennström was born on February 16, 1966 in Järfälla (Sweden). He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from uppsala University. Later followed a master’s degree in technical physics at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
Zennström spent his final year of study at the University of Michigan. After completing his training, he started his career at the Swedish network operator Tele2. There he was involved in the company’s development.
In 2000, Zennström and Janus Friis founded the P2P file sharing service Kazaa, where Zennström became CEO. After the great success of the service, Zennström was indicted by several music producers in the same year because his platform allowed the illegal sharing of copyrighted content.
After the lawsuit, Kazaa was sold and Zennström dedicated himself to a new project: Skype. The platform allowed Internet and video telephony around the world. Just like Kazaa, a so-called peer-to-peer code was used.
Sale of Skype and career as an investor
In October 2005, Skype had achieved a market share of around 3 percent. In the same month, the software was bought by eBay for $2.6 billion. Zennström was CEO of Skype until September 2007, after which he left the board to devote himself to other projects.
In 2009, however, Zennström returned to the Skype Board. He bought Skype back from eBay, along with other investors. In May 2011, the service was finally resold to Microsoft for $8.5 billion.
Zennström reportedly made around a billion dollars from sales. He is currently head of the venture capital firm Atomico. Since then, he has invested in many technology companies, including Supercell, Klarna and Last.fm.
Janus Friis: Danish Skype co-founder and developer of delivery robots
Janus Friis was born on June 26, 1976 in Denmark. Contrary to popular belief, Friis does not have a school leaving certificate. He dropped out of middle school and took a job as a customer service representative at CyberDesk, the first Danish Internet service provider.
Friis and Zennström met in 1996. The two later worked together at Tele2 and were responsible for the launch of get2net,another Internet provider. The portal Everyday was also maintained by the two.
In January 2000, Friis moved into Zennström’s apartment. There the two worked on the development of Kazaa. After the discontinuation of this service, Friis and Zennström co-founded Joltid. The company was engaged in the distribution of P2P technology to commercial users.
Founding of Rdio and development of delivery robots
In 2010, Friis and Zennström founded the music streaming service Rdio. At that time, as today, the market was highly competitive and Rdio was one of the losers. Because the service could not prevail and flopped in 2015. The founders filed for bankruptcy.
After Friis left the software industry, he founded the company Starship Technologies with Ahti Heinla. It has been involved in the development and production of small, mobile delivery robots since 2014.
The robots are used in large cities – for example, since 2016 in San Francisco. In October 2021, Starship announced that the company had reached around 2 million deliveries worldwide. Currently, the largest robot fleet is located in Milton Keynes, UK.