Estonia’s high-tech embassy

The World

This man’s San Jose office is pretty sparse. He has a laptop, a few books shelves, and a giant Estonian flag flanking the door. The man is Director of Enterprise Estonia’s Silicon Valley Trade Office, also known as its Tech Embassy. That makes him its unofficial Tech Ambassador and sole employee of this office, �As I’m here only, like a one man show and I have to deal with all the sectors in the technology field. I’m almost more like a project leader trying to connect people in Estonia and people here in Silicon Valley.� What people here in Silicon Valley know about Estonia is Skype, the computer program that lets you make free calls over the internet. Skype was developed in Estonia. Tech giant Ebay bought it out in 2005 for $2.6 billion dollars. Today Skype has tens of millions of users worldwide. The Tech ambassador, �If Skype can happen in Estonia, other things can also happen in Estonia. Of course Estonia is a very small country and our labor pool is really very limited, the number is like 600,000 people at working age. So we have to focus on niche sectors.� Those niche sectors include phone service like Skype, but Estonia is also expanding into mobile applications like using your cell phone to feed your parking meter, currently available throughout the country. that’s just one of many tech tricks that Estonia likes to show off that don’t exist even right here in America’s tech hotbed. One of Skype’s early investors was this venture capitalist. He’s a good example of why Estonia needs Silicon Valley, capital. That man is hot on Estonia and not just because he’s of Estonian descent, �What amazes me is the resilience, energy and entrepreneurial vibe that one gets when you visit Estonia. You get a different feel there than you do in some of the places around the world, even in Europe, in some of the developed places in Europe, that we’re going to build a great country here. We’re going to do electronic voting, we’re going to do electronic meter paying, we’re going to push the envelope on technology and do things in new and creative ways. It’s exciting.� While Estonia may somewhat new to Silicon Valley, Scandinavian tech reps have been here for years. Estonia has always looked to Scandinavia as its model for economic successive, so the tech ambassador says he’s seeking help from the local Scandinavian tech association, called Silicon Vikings. One of its members is this man, Director of the Finish tech trade group, �Fins have been in California, oh about twenty years now. so it takes time to establish yourself here. I think it’s great that these guys are here and from our perspective there’s already a lot of stuff happening within Vilnius and Estonia, over there in Europe. A lot of Finish companies have established their manufacturing or development sectors in Estonia, there’s good talent, there’s a lot of resources over there.� And if Estonia’s rapid technological ascent is any indication, Estonians won’t need twenty years to make their mark.

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