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Why Skype Succeeded and Joost Failed

Niklas Zennstrom, most famous for Skype and speaker at the Global Mobile Internet Conference 2011, talked at TechCrunch Disrupt: Beijing this afternoon.  He gave Sarah Lacey, the interviewer, a rundown on a number things including what Skype went through.  Niklas divulged that he went through 25 VCs before finally gettig funding.  At the time P2P was not seen as viable, so no one wanted to touch it.  When asked what kept him going he said it was a basic determination.  They knew they had something big, and eventually they would find the person that saw the brilliance in the device.

Timing was important to Skype taking off.  It filled a gap that was needed.  But another of his projects, Joost (pronounced “Juiced”), was not timed correctly.  Joost was a video project similar to Hulu.  It was an project that was needed, but the players needed to make it work, weren’t interested.  They could never get the distributors to commit to letting Joost have the rights to the big content because they didn’t want to create a third party within video distribution.  Additionally, bandwidth costs plummeted which made the P2P aspect of Joost less significant.

But failure is part of the process and Niklas praised Silicon Valley for its culture that views failure as part of the start-up process.  Success can be overnight, but it can be 10 years of build up to that overnight success.  His major advice to the startups here at  TechCrunch Disrupt was to remember that while sometimes things happen overnight and sometimes it takes 10 years for that overnight success to happen.

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