Niklas Zennström, co-founder of internet phone company Skype, said there were plenty of revenue growth left in the business as he identified market timing as instrumental behind why only one of the three market changing businesses he has launched have had commercial success. At a keynote address at the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association’s conference, Zennström said Skype now accounted for "one in eight international calls". Zennström, who had originally sold Skype to online auction company eBay in 2005, reinvested in the company as part of a leveraged buyout last year. EBay retained a minority stake in Skype but Zennström said "there are plenty of revenue opportunities" left. Last week, Skype launched its fifth version of its product that runs on Microsoft Windows software, including a tab from Facebook to allow people to text, instant message or call their friends via right from the world’s largest social media platform’s News Feed section. He added: "With Skype not only did we want to make lots of money from it, we truly wanted to make an impact, and to change the way people communicated all over the world. "We went after a large market – a trillion dollar industry, we developed game-changing technology that enabled us to provide high quality phone calls and later video calls for free, or almost for free. By providing free calls to other Skype users, international calls with 90% discount, and also viral software, we had a very innovative business model." Skype, which Zennström launched with co-founder Janus Friis, followed their launch of the music sharing software Kazaa. Zennström said: "My first company, Kazaa, designed an incredibly successful music sharing software, which at the time, was the most downloaded program ever, but we did not succeed commercially. In fact we ended up in a five-year worldwide legal battle with the music and movie industries. "At its peak, Kazaa accounted for over half of all internet traffic and it played its part in igniting a music revolution, turning the music industry inside out, and allowing people to interact over the internet as they had never done before." He said Kazaa was unable to reach the "escape velocity" that Skype had done because of the litigation. He said the launch of Skype in 2003 was at a time when incumbent telephone operators were retrenching and by the time they reacted Skype had achieved its "viral" success of users recommending it to their friends in order to make…
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Zennström reveals entrepreneurial challenges
Oct 17, 2010 • James Mawson
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