Niklas Zennström, CEO and Founding Partner of Atomico and Co-Founder of Skype, discusses his journey as a tech entrepreneur and his views on how the tech community is putting a new focus on addressing broader societal issues.
On start-ups tackling the biggest issues of our time: “What I’m personally most excited about is these companies addressing non-tech problems, but also kind of fundamental challenges for society. And so the biggest challenge they have is climate…. And you have consumers - if you look at millennials and Gen Z - they are actually caring so much more than my generation about purpose, where they work, they want to work for companies which have a real purpose, but also care about products and services they're buying…. So companies being built today by founders are addressing some of these problems, or they realize that if I build a company that is fixing or addressing some of these big challenges, I can recruit the best people and I can have a competitive advantage in terms of a brand position.”
On driving diversity in the sector: “One thing that is super important is that we also have a lot of female investors because it happens much more organically that female investors are finding female founders and female founders are much more comfortable speaking to female investors. So that’s one thing to just make sure [to] really focus on [hiring] more female investors…. Then you also need to look at diversity in the teams of companies. And it’s really hard when a company becomes over 100 or 200 people to fix the diversity problem…. After a short while if you’re 50 people and most of them are men it’s going to be extremely intimidating for the first female engineer to join that team or non-engineer. So from front-loading this issue much earlier and trying to help companies as soon as possible to hire females is I think one way to help to fix that balance.”
Read more from Atomico’s Diversity & Inclusion in Tech Guidebook for Entrepreneurs.