The tech industry is booming around the world, although Swedish companies are leading the way in startups. By global standards, the country has a small population of just 10 million people, yet what they lack in people they make up for in productivity.
The nation is the second-largest tech hub when looking at production per capita, coming right beneath Silicon Valley. To date, Stockholm is considered the second-best city globally for its ability to attract global talent.
These open arms of welcome have turned many ambitious entrepreneurial heads to the accelerators and incubators that call Sweden home.
With so much talent and productivity (and a booming economy that grew over 4% last year), there’s little surprise Sweden is paving the roads of technology into the future. Here are some of the companies that have begun the movement.
It used to be that ABBA was the best music that the Nordic country had to offer. In 2006, the launching of Spotify, the music streaming company, rewrote the rules of the music industry.
Rather than relying on CDs or album downloads to distribute music to the masses, the company provided a digital streaming option for users. The startup has already raised over $1.5 billion in the capital, though it is valued at over $8 billion. It has also been a huge hit with music lovers of all ages and genres, boasting over 100 million users. There is still more growth to come, and the company is actively hiring.
Yes, the video calling service that began connecting the world back in 2003 was created by the Swede Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, a Dane. The ability to digitally connect to someone in real-time anywhere worldwide revolutionized communication opportunities for personal and business needs.
The startup raised $76 million, before eventually being by Microsoft for $8.5 billion. The platform has gone through several upgrades over the last few years, with the developers at Microsoft enhancing the service to be used across mobile devices and tablets, in addition to computers.
During the last few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Skype usage skyrockets. In March of 2020, over 40 million people were using Skype daily, and 100 million people were using it every month.
Customer service measures have taken on a whole new meaning with e-commerce and online purchases. As one of Sweden’s unicorns, Klarna is changing the way retailers and consumers complete transactions.
The 12-year-old startup is currently valued at over 2 billion dollars, and it has made its way overseas to some online retailers based in the United States.
With the services, customers that are purchasing through a retailer that has partnered with Klarna is given 30 days to pay for the item or makes a return. This is a win-win for everyone, as customers don’t have to enter their payment information, and businesses don’t have the hassle of online purchases and dissatisfied consumers.
Mobile phones continue to make life easier for the user, but they have only made the frustration and annoyance with telemarketing efforts worse. However, Truecaller’s app will identify unknown numbers and block callers to eliminate robocalls and telemarketers from interrupting your day.
The biggest market for the company is in India, although 150 million people around the world use the service. The company, another startup, has raised over $90 million and continues to develop its features to attract new users. One of the latest developments is the ability for the app to register if friends are available to receive your call.
Technology has changed the way people stay entertained, and gaming is evidence of this. Back in April of 2012, King launched its Facebook game Candy Crush and later released the game for mobile and online platforms. The game has been considered one of the most successful, first-ventures in a freemium model.
This is a gage situation where a player doesn’t have to spend any money. However, because players can purchase extra perks to navigate the games, King has significant revenues. At one point, it was reportedly earning almost $1 million each day.
The company released other versions of the game before being bought Activision Blizzard for $5.9 billion.
Another revolutionary entertainment option, Mojang, whose name means “gadget” in Swedish, brought the gaming community Minecraft. It was released initially as a personal computer game, but later developments have made it available for gaming devices, tablets, and mobile devices.
The company was acquired by Microsoft in 2014 for $2.5 billion dollars. To date, the game has been the best-selling video game of all time, with 126 million active users each month and over 200 million copies sold.
This Swedish fintech startup has earned a nickname as “the Square of Europe.” iZettle gave the world the first mini chip card reader, and it currently develops software that allows mobile devices to accept payment. It has raised over $172 million in funding and is using the funds to provide additional services.
More recently, iZettle has moved into lending, using a small percentage of each transaction processed through its payment platform to settle the loan debt. Axo Finans is another Swedish tech company in lending, though this service allows a user to apply for a loan from 20 banks simultaneously. Recently, PayPal purchased iZettle for $2.2 billion.
The future of banking, entertainment, and communications may all be coming out of Sweden. Ahead of their global peers, the Swedish startups exploring tech develops are changing the way consumers and businesses operate