The Weblog of Vincent Oberle - Thoughts and opinions about technology and business

Nokia of Estonia

As you can imagine the acquisition of Skype by eBay has been heavily covered in the Estonian press.

In Äripäev, the Estonian business newspaper, Allan Martinson from Microlink (largest IT firm in the Baltics) wrote:

The acquisition of Skype Technologies SA by eBay for about $4.1bn may be more significant to the Estonian economy than Swedbank’s recent takeover of Hansabank, valued at $5.6bn at the time of the acquisition.

Hansabank is the largest bank in the Baltics. It was founded by Estonian businessmen in the early 1990s and was the biggest post-Soviet success of Estonia. It was bought by Sweden’s Swedbank in spring 2005.

Skype is very important for Estonia’s reputation. Martinson adds:

Skype has boosted Estonia’s reputation more than any other company or person from this country. When you type “Estonia” and “Skype” into Google, you get 326,000 hits. Combining Estonia with former president Lennart Meri* gets 79,000, Hansabank 27,000, rally driver Markko Märtin 17,000, soccer goalie Mart Poom 11,000, supermodel Carmen Kass 1,000, and flat tax just 648 search results.**

One of the point that came often is that Skype could be the Nokia of Estonia that the country has been looking for.

So, why is the sale of Skype more important to Estonians than the sale of Hansabank? Because we have tasted something pretty sweet now. We have over a hundred men and women who saw the making of Skype and know how it was done. We now have hundreds of young people who are saying to themselves: If Skype could, then I can, too. They now have the skills, the confidence and the energy.

Six years ago, then-president Lennart Meri urged us to search for the Estonian Nokia. Gentlemen, we’re beginning to get there.

Some of the press has been covering this deal as the end of something. On the contrary it just starts, both for Skype and for Estonia.

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