What is the Skype Effect?

Ragnar Siil

For many of the viewers probably it is not a surprise that Estonia is a home for Skype. I do not know if you know this but at this very moment Estonia has more technological startups per capita than anywhere else in the world. So there is in Tallinn at the moment more start-ups per capita than anywhere else in the world. When Wall Street Journal came to make an article about this asking why in the middle of nowhere in the village up in the north there are more start-ups than anywhere in the world per capita? What is happening?

Then basically they came up with 3 reasons. Firstly they said it is because of the weather. I mean if you see the weather in Estonia there is basically nothing else you want to do than stay inside and program. Secondly they said it is about the education. It is about technology. It is about infrastructure that Estonians have a lot of internet usage. But that is already something that everybody has. And thirdly and this is I think the answer to many questions they said it is a Skype Effect. And what does Skype Effect mean? It is not that Skype workers do many spinoffs no it is also true but not so much. But it basically means that people in Estonia a lot of creative people and people from technological sector do not have this inferiority complex. They do no think everyday that they come from a small country and we have no possibility and you need to go as far as possible. The Skype proved that you can be 1 million people and you can come up with a fantastic world-changing idea. So that is the Skype Effect.

I worked with many students from other countries from the Central and Eastern European countries. And very often I meet students coming from countries which have 10-times more people than Estonia. And they still have this oh, there is only 10 million people and we are so small and we will never by anything. If I want to be somebody I need to go to Germany or UK or America. And we have 1 million people.

So I think that if you are really good and you can really focus like Estonian has focused on IT. Our e-government service is one of the world best ones, our game industry. We have some accelerators here, global games accelerators like Startup Wise Guys for example which brings guys and girls from all the continents to Tallinn, out of other places in the world to the Tallinn to be the hub for game developers. I think this kind of attitude makes us bigger than we are.

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