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30_Niklas Zennstroem

2005 FAST 50 WINNER

Niklas Zennstroem, 39

Cofounder and CEO
Skype Technologies S.A.
Luxembourg

Internet phones aren’t new, but mass acceptance of them is. With the launch of Skype last July, Niklas Zennstroem attracted almost 50 million users to download his software and talk for 2 billion minutes. For free. So does that mean the dotcom crash hasn’t reached Luxembourg? Hear Zennstroem, the creator of the music-file-sharing service KaZaA, out. Like KaZaA, Skype relies on a decentralized peer-to-peer network. That means Zennstroem incurs minimal costs because each user provides the processing power and networking that services customers. So he can give away the basic service and charge just two cents a minute for customers who want to call non-Skype users. Up next are mobile phones empowered with the Skype service. “If you’re following everyone else,” he says, “it becomes much more difficult to create a competitive advantage.”

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