i3 - November/December 2018 - 42

Consum

By 2003, Kazaa had become
the world's most downloaded
internet software. At its height,
Kazaa constituted 50 percent
of all internet traffic, but also
attracted lawsuits from record
labels. The pair sold Kazaa and
co-founded Joost, an interactive
TV service, and another peerto-peer software development
company.
While working between
Amsterdam and Estonia on
various projects, the five
programmers racked up
extensive international phone
bills. Looking to lower these
expenses, they wondered, "Why
can't we talk over the internet?"
The five decided to leverage their
peer-to-peer technologies and
create a VoIP communication
system.
Originally dubbed Skyper - a
compressed version of "sky peerto-peer" - the "r" was dropped
so the group could procure a
.com domain. After a year or so,
tired of testing the system with
other engineers, Zennström tried
calling an old school friend in
Singapore. After 45 minutes of
catching up on old times, it was
clear to Zennström that Skype
worked.
But would consumers sit
in front of PCs to make phone
calls over the internet? It turned
out that free - or close to it -
international calling overcame
potential user objections;
people "got" Skype immediately.
It launched on August 29,

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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018

logy

Within a month, [SKYPE] attracted a million
users, 4.1 million in its first business
quarter, and 19.8 million in its first year.

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42

Techno

2003 and was downloaded
10,000 times. Within a month,
it attracted a million users, 4.1
million in its first business quarter,
and 19.8 million in its first year.
Skype call quality was so good,
a user said his mother could
hear him smoking. Skype soon
was acquiring five new users
every second, virtually 500,000
new users per day. After a
17-month development period,
Skype added video chatting
in December 2005. "Skype"
soon became a byword for
internet voice and video calling
worldwide.
With a nearby college
supplying freshly-minted
computer science graduates,
ambitious new developer
hires poured in, and Skype
soon outgrew its Tallinn HQ.
The company also started to
attract deep-pocketed suitors.
In October 2005, Skype was
bought by eBay for $3.1 billion. In
2009, Zennström and Friis led a
consortium of private investors to
re-acquire a controlling interest
in Skype, which then went

the Year in the European Business
Leaders Awards (EBLA). In 2009,
the Swedish KTH Royal Institute
of Technology awarded him its
KTH Great Prize and he received
a Lifetime Achievement Award
from the Oxford Internet Institute
in 2011. In 2013 was awarded a
Swedish King's Medal as well
as a gold medal by the Royal
Swedish Academy of Engineering
Sciences.
In 2006, along with the shared
TIME Magazine and Wharton
honors, Friis won the "It Prize"
from the Danish IT industry. With
Heinla, Friis co-founded Starship
Technologies in 2014 to develop
small self-driving unmanned
delivery robots for cities.
Heinla serves as Starship
Technologies' co-CEO and CTO.
He also helped organize Let's Do
It 2008, during which 50,000
volunteers - four percent of the
country's population - helped
clean up the Estonian countryside
in one day, inspiring the global
World Cleanup Day held each
September. In 2003, Heinla,
Kasesalu and Tallinn co-founded
Ambient Sound Investments.
Tallinn also co-founded the
Cambridge Centre for the Study
of Existential Risk and Future of
Life Institute, and the medical
consulting firm MetaMed, is on the
Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin
of the Atomic Scientists and has
served on the Estonian President's
Academic Advisory Board. He is
also an active angel investor and a
former investor in and director of
the AI company DeepMind. 

Techno
through a period of corporate
restructuring and technical
rebuilding to make the system
usable on smartphones. Over the
years, Skype improved service
by adopting cloud technology as
well as dedicated "supernodes"
hosted in data centers. They also
developed a network of beta
testers to ensure smooth usage.
In 2011, a more robust Skype was
sold to Microsoft for $8.5 billion.
Zennström, an avid yacht
racer, founded and became
CEO of tech investor Atomico
in 2006, and, in October 2015,
was tapped to head the new
European Tech Alliance (EUTA),
promoting Europe as a tech hub.
In 2007, Zennström and his wife
Catherine founded Zennström
Philanthropies to support human
rights, fight climate change
and encourage environmental
entrepreneurship. Along with
Friis in 2006, Zennström was
named one of TIME Magazine's
100 Most Influential People,
received a Wharton Infosys
Business Transformation Award
and was voted Entrepreneur of

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i3 - November/December 2018

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