Evolving Concepts and Processes
European Research in Entrepreneurship series
Edited by Odd Jarl Borch, Alain Fayolle, Paula Kyrö and Elisabet Ljunggren
Chapter 4: Entrepreneurial Opportunity Identification: The Case of Skype Technologies
Rok Stritar and Mateja Drnovšek INTRODUCTION The ability of entrepreneurs to identify opportunities and develop new ventures intrigues researchers from the very beginning of entrepreneurship as a scientific discipline (Kirzner, 1979; Schumpeter, 1934). The rapid technological development during the late 1990s triggered an especially intriguing period in entrepreneurial history as prevailing investor optimism fuelled the growth of internet ventures at an unprecedented pace. The bursting of the Internet stock market bubble in March 2000 grounded the high-flying dreams of new economy ventures based on Internet technologies. However, the following period of prevailing investor pessimism and maturing technologies was the breeding ground for some of the fastest-growing entrepreneurial ventures in history. One of such companies was Skype, founded in 2002 by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. The company offered an alternative to traditional telephones by offering a free service that enabled Internet users to use their computers for voice communication. The first version of the software was released in August 2003. Up until October 2005 the service attracted 54 million users and it was sold to EBay for $2.6 billion. By the time it was sold the total amount of money invested in the company was $20 million, making it one of the fastest growing start-ups in history (Gruber, 2006). Such rapid entrepreneurial growth opens several ‘Why?’ and ‘How?’ questions connected to the opportunity, the entrepreneurs and the venture itself, and offers a unique and interesting research case for the study of the entrepreneurial process. We focus...
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