There is no doubt that Skype has managed to make the world a better place. It has infinitely simplified the way we communicate internationally. Nevertheless, very few people know that the foundation of Skype, the software that allows users to make free calls over the internet, has been called by the worldwide tech press ”a real baltic success story”.
Baltic development made Skype happen
The application software Skype was initially developed by Estonian developers Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu and Jaan Tallinn, the same developers that have started the peer-to-peer file sharing software Kazaa. Jaan Tallinn, the main engineer behind Skype, is now a well known worldwide specialist in P2P technologies and is the only one of the 3 initial developers which is still around the company, performing various tech tasks.
Even though the company is based in Luxembourg and most of the management and marketing jobs are done in London, the main development center for Skype is in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, and this is where over 80% of the Skype employees work. Due to this successful team of web developers, Estonia is now the country, which could be called the homeland of 2 technological super achievements Skype and Kazaa. Not to mention that Hotmail is another great Estonian development success.
The sky is the limit for Skype
Skype Limited, the company that operates Skype, was founded in 2003 by the Swedish entrepreneur Niklas Zennstrom and the Danish entrepreneur Janus Friis. The name of Skype comes from the initial idea of „sky peer-to-peer”. The 2 founders have decided to hire the same successful Estonian developers that made Kazaa possible for the development of the new Skype.
eBay acquired Skype Limited in September 2005 for 2.1 billion € (2.6 billion $) and later on, during november 2009 decided to sell a majority stake of 70% to a consortium comprising Silver Lake Partners, CPPIB, Andreessen Horowitz, and the original founders.
Skype recently reached 500 million registered users worldwide and the sky seems to be the limit for the plans that Skype owners have for their business.
From Skype to Erply
For Estonia, Skype’s international success has meant more than just 3 happy Estonian engineers who earned worldwide fame. It has also meant a big push to start new successful tech startups, looking more actively at international markets, something that has been very limited until now. A recent Estonian success, Erply, won the 2009 Seedcamp and is already profitable, proves that we will be hearing more and more great things about Estonian web startups.