Skype co-founder Zennstrom’s VC firm Atomico raises US$476m fund

19 Nov 2013

Atomico CEO Niklas Zennstrom

Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom’s London-based venture capital company Atomico has raised its largest venture capital fund to date – Atomico III – three times the size of its previous fund at US$476m.

Zennstrom started Skype in Sweden in 2000 with his business partner Janus Friis and history was made as communications across the globe was made free and effortless.

Microsoft acquired Skype last year for US$8.5bn.

Last year at the Dublin Web Summit, Zennstrom advised companies to think globally from day one.

“You can choose to be a big company in Sweden but you’ll only be a big company in Sweden. The same is true for Ireland, you could choose to be a big company in Ireland but you’ll only ever be a big company there.”

‘Great companies can come from anywhere. Talent, ambition and success know no borders’

Atomico CEO and Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom talks to at the Dublin Web Summit in 2012

Atomico has been a key investor in a number of major start-up successes, including Supercell and the Climate Corporation, which have both celebrated US$1bn deals in recent weeks. It has also worked with companies in Finland (Rovio), the UK (Hailo), Sweden (Klarna), Russia (OneTwoTrip), Brazil (Connect Parts), and the US (Fab).

According to Atomico’s blog, the venture fund was founded in 2006 to mainly support entrepreneurs outside Silicon Valley.

“With Atomico III we’re building a concentrated portfolio of technology-based growth companies that are looking to scale their businesses, again primarily outside Silicon Valley,” Zennstrom wrote.

“We look for companies led by brilliant entrepreneurs which have a hit product, underpinned by excellent technology, with impressive growth. We look for companies with the potential to become an international category winner. And, crucially, we look for companies which can attack and transform large industries, both domestically and globally.

“We look for these characteristics because that’s where we see the biggest opportunities for entrepreneurs – and because, with our experience building mass-market, international companies at Skype and elsewhere, that’s where we can provide the most practical help.

“Many key people from the initial global team behind Skype are now at Atomico. Our international expansion team helps our portfolio companies to scale across Europe and into large emerging markets like China, Japan, Brazil, Turkey and now Korea, where we have experienced people on the ground. And we also help founders with other skills that may not be native to them but which are critical to get right in a growing business, like talent,” Zennstrom said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years