What are the coming trends that will shape tomorrow’s world ?? Skype co-Founder, Niklas Zennström, thought internet companies scale much faster today than in the past.

“Skype’s hyper growth was from 2004 to 2007.  At that time, I believed we scaled much faster than the ones before us, such as Yahoo and AOL.  But, today, we can find companies growing even faster than us, like Youtube, Zynga, Groupon, etc.,” said Niklas

“This is because more people are connected to the internet and the market is much bigger.  It is easier to build company.  And I expect there will be more innovations and companies will be growing faster than before,” said Niklas.

Another trend is about the emerging markets, such as Latin America, China, etc.  “These markets are maturing.  I think we will see some Latin America internet firms grow into global companies soon,” said Niklas.

He also though well of mobile.  “Mobile internet is growing fast. Smartphone has over 50% penetration in some developed market.  There will be more smartphone than PC very soon,” said Niklas.

And how about the startup environment in China?? Niklas thought overall this is a well functioned market.  “There are lots of funds and talents.  And it is a fast growing market.  There are public markets for IPO,” said Niklas.

“In Europe, there are also a lot of talent.  But people are more comfortable with cooperate life.  Afraid of failure.  I was like that.  I worked for a large telecom company and I was afraid of starting my own business,” said Niklas, “Here in China. People are more risk taking.  Many start their own businesses.  But, the competition is very keen.”

However, he thought, most of the companies in China lack originality.   “It is less about having a new idea.  But more about taking a successful US model and adapting it to China market,” said Niklas.  All of the biggest Chinese internet companies, such as Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba’s Taobao, followed the same pattern.

I agreed with Niklas.  We have yet to see a transformational / game changing/ big idea growing out of China, despite China is the largest internet market in the world.  Hopefully that will change soon.

Sherman So

Author of Red Wired: China's Internet Revolution, the first book to completely survey the nature of China's internet. (http://redwiredrevolution.com/) She previously was the lead China technology reporter...

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3 Comments

  1. Hi Sherman, nice interview! Did you met Niklas Zennstrom in person? What do you think will happen about the banning from Chinese telecom ministry of any online communication tools that are not Chine Unicom or China Telecom? Will they enforce it and how can skype deal with it then? So many people are already using it in China…

    1. Hi Carole, thanks for your comments. Yes, I interviewed him in person. I am not very familiar with the “banning” you mentioned. In fact, there are many online communication tool in China offered by private companies, such as Tencent’s QQ, Microsoft’s MSN messager, etc. And, Skype, too, can be used in China. But it is operated by Tom Online, a Hong Kong based company, which setup a joint venture with Skype. Its address is http://skype.tom.com/

  2. Hi Sherman, in certain areas, access to Google, Skype, Facebook etc are been controlled… that is why QQ, TaoBao started . . . but in the internet world, there is always ways round the blockage . . . FYI

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