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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Standing on the shoulders of giants - Zennstrom shapes his new Empire

Niklas Zennstrom shapes his new Empire with the Atomico investment in Wunderloop.

Paul Durman of the Timesonline gives us this report:

THE founder of Skype, the London-based internet telephony sensation, and two of his original backers are investing in a German company that hopes to revolutionise web advertising.

Less than three-and-a-half years since Skype’s launch, the firm has more than 170m users who made 32 billion minutes of calls last year. This success — and Ebay’s $2.6 billion (£1.3 billion) purchase of Skype 18 months ago — has made founder Niklas Zennstrom a celebrity in technology start-up circles

Zennstrom is investing in Wunderloop, the internet advertising firm, along with Klaus Hommels and Howard Hartenbaum, two highly regarded technology investors. Hommels was European Angel Investor of 2006, while California-based Hartenbaum was featured last week on the Midas list of leading venture capitalists produced by Forbes magazine.

Hommels, who is a partner with Benchmark Capital in London, said Wunderloop had developed technology that enables websites to target their advertising much more effectively

This improved targeting could improve the revenue generated by adverts 10 or 15 times over.

The technology is already being used by leading web brands including AOL and T-Online, the internet arm of Deutsche Telekom. Tiscali, the Anglo-Italian firm, was also recently signed up as a customer.

Hartenbaum, a partner with Draper Richards in San Francisco, said: “When I am surfing the web, I get a lot of ads that are a waste of my time and a waste of the advertisers’ time — weight-loss products for women, for example. Wunderloop means that I get a better experience, and it works for the advertiser.”

Wunderloop will receive an estimated €8m (£5m) from investors. Hommels and Hartenbaum are putting in their own money, while Zennstrom is investing through his Atomico Investments. Also investing are the Samwer brothers, founders of the Jamba ringtone company that was responsible for Crazy Frog.

The pieces are all starting to fall into place and Zennstrom seems to have his finger in all the hot pies. WTD blog posted this excellent flow chart of the Zennstrom Empire and his headline poses an interesting question -

Zennstrom is investing in Wunderloop, the internet advertising firm. Here comes the new Rupert Murdoch Web 2.0. / Voice 2.0. Empire.

Are we witnessing the birth the of a new type of media mogul?

I hope so, because this new media Empire will be a better place than the current status quo. Bring on the free stuff, bring on the innovation and investment, bring on the freedoms of the web, and to finish this interesting post I´ve another little question for you.

Who would you rather have running the infrastructure of your media distribution - Zennstrom or Murdoch? right!

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