This week, tech platform Intuit announced they are acquiring marketing firm Mailchimp for $12bn. Altanta-based Mailchimp has grown to its 2.4 million monthly active users without raising a single dollar of external funding, making the exit a lucrative one for the owners. The owners of Mailchimp are its two founders.
Also this week, Stockholm-based caller-identification service Truecaller confirmed its intention to IPO, raising $100m+ on Nasdaq Stockholm. With 278 million active users Truecaller has raised over $95m over the years. Firms like Sequoia Capital and Atomico were early investors, but ownership has also been distributed amongst employees. Once again a lucrative exit for the owners. The owners of Truecaller are many.
What difference does this make?
When QUESO (qualified employee stock options) were finally seriously considered by the Swedish government it was in part thanks to a manifesto, signed by prominent startup founders embarking on their scale up journeys. They were experiencing a lack of leverage when competing for the type and volume of talent (or simply people with the competence + experience) needed in order to succeed.
Many of these founders have since either exited or are far along in their expansion.
QUESO became a part of founders toolboxes for attracting talent in Sweden on January 1st, 2018 thanks to a “snabbutredning” initiated by Sweden’s then Minister for Enterprise and Innovation. Enabling startup ecosystems throughout the country to flourish as businesses succeed.
Two of the people who signed the Swedish Startup Manifesto were Alan Mamedi and Nami Zarringhalam, the founders of Truecaller. So it’s no surprise to see Mamedi’s answer when being asked about the ownership of his employees being worth millions, in an interview with Svenska Dagbladet:
“It makes me happy”.
Early Truecaller employees are already paying it forward. One example being Kim Fai Kok and Zakaria Hersi whom, together with Spotify veteran Nick Dahl, founded the Investor Group “Framtid” (Future).
While the exit of Mailchimp is a success story indeed, it will not directly benefit Atlanta’s startup ecosystem. It will not create a pool of people being given the possibility to embark on their own startup journey as founders. It will not create a pool of new Angel investors supporting the next generation of startups. It will benefit its two founders and whomever they decide to share their gains with, if they decide to do so.
QUESO, which is in essence distributed ownership, is as Nordic as it gets.
Proud Head of Communications at Gothenburg-based Precisely, a contract management platform founded by a third of the creators of the Swedish Startup Manifesto.