Interview: "I invest in people" says Skype investor, serial entrepreneur Morten Lund

13:46, October 24, 2010      

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"I want to put some of my investments in this category -- wild -- Worldwide Investments/Involvement in Life Development. Because one day my kids will ask me: 'What is your work?'", says Lund on his blog.

The 38-year-old Lund is a maverick entrepreneur from Denmark and one of the most active seed investors in Europe. His portfolio features over 80 companies spanning the Internet, telecoms, health and alternative energy.

Lund is best known as the seed investor behind Skype, sold to online auction company eBay for 2.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2005, and as a co-founder of ZYB, the Danish social networking site and mobile backup site sold to Vodafone Europe BV for nearly 50 million U.S. dollars in 2008.

However, behind those numbers, who is Moren Lund? He is entrepreholic, a chief ideologist and realistic optimist; or is he the man never afraid of walking close to the edge?

Lund started his career as an entrepreneur when he was an economics student at Odense university, and had a keen interest in the digital and multimedia field since. Through all these years, Lund has experienced ups and downs, but he's always been able to get himself back in the race.

Along with a few friends, Lund started Neo Ideo AS in 1996. It was the top 3 web bureau in Denmark when sold to Leo Burnett Group on 2000. Not averse to taking risks, Lund got involved in several small-sized internet company start-ups during 1999, but experienced a huge loss due to the first internet bubble.

But Lund wasn't put off by such setbacks. He was back in the field soon and invested in several hign-tech startups, including Kazaa media desktop, antivirus software BullGuard, Danish mobile social networking service ZYB, and so on.

In 2006, Lund co-founded Denmark's most read daily newspaper, Nyhedsavisen, but it was eventually closed down due to financial problems. Lund had to declare bankruptcy in early 2010.

But again, it didn't take him long to get back on top, and these days Lund spends most of his time on two start-ups: Everbread and Tradeshift.

Skype surely is the jewel in Lund's investment career so far. Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, the two co-founders of Skype, had the idea of launching a large-scale internet telephony project in 2002. Though the future of the project was entirely unforeseeable back then, Lund thought it was a cool idea, and invested 50,000 U.S. dollars very early.

Talking about his successful experience, Lund gives all the credit to luck. "You always have to acknowledge luck as part of your entrepreneurial success," he told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.

But Lund places no less emphasis on the important factor of "people". He said: "There always are hundreds or thousands of brilliant ideas in the world, but you need to find the right way in -- right project, the right people or the right team to adapt the right strategy, and create sales."

The underlying investment strategies of Lund are that he invests in the people he likes or look promising to him. In 2005, Lund made a seed investment in China-based Browser Maxthon, not only because Maxthon was an interesting project itself, but also he believed that Jeff Chen, the software developer, was the right person that he should invest in.

Unlike some international investors having ambiguous attitudes to China, Lund gives a very positive opinion on the future development of science and technology in China. He said: "China has a huge domestic market. As long as China successfully expands its middle class and domestic demand, the market has a huge potential."

Talking about his future focus on China's digital business, Lund said he would pay particular attention to the development of China's e-entertainment and e-communication markets.

He says China has a considerable number of Internet users now, and the supporting IT technologies are becoming mature, but the credit card payment system is still less developed in China. Lund believes that, with the increasing number of credit card users, both e-entertainment and e-communications markets have large development potential.

Lund has always been and is embracing life and the world with a kind of primitive passion.

Besides his roles as an entrepreneur and inverstor, Lund also is father to four children. Words may not be able to describe his love for his family.

When he was asked about his definition of success, Lund said: "Love my kids but don't spoil them; change the world, and change world business."

On his blog, Lund says he has "an untamed lust to do stuff that makes a difference for the people in this world -- specially if I can help to save children's lives. I want to do it for profit -- since that's the only way to attract world class talent."

He said, on one hand, he could not help thinking, "why should I be able to change anything". But on the other hand, he is also thinking, "why not -- try for sake -- if you don't try -- you will for sure not change anything."

Source: Xinhua


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