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Bootstrapping to $200 Million: Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater (Part 2)

Posted on Wednesday, Aug 26th 2015

Sramana Mitra: What kind of clients were you working with? Were they Norwegian clients? What was the client pool at that point?

Jorn Lyseggen: The client pool when I started out was Norwegian companies. We worked with the major banks. We worked with the major publishing houses and helped newspapers to create an online version of their newspaper. We work with companies that were selling things online. It started out in the Norwegian market. We also worked with government entities like the Norwegian Central Bank.

Sramana Mitra: How long does this mode of operation go on?

Jorn Lyseggen: This went on for a couple of years. Before we knew it, somebody knocked on the door and wanted to acquire us. Initially, that was a very repulsive idea for me. Why should I sell my baby? I basically was sold on the idea that what we did in Norway, we could do across Europe. We decided to do it finally, not because of the price they offered, but because we had an opportunity to operate on a European scale. We finally sold the company to this European entity which was called EUnet International. This was the European counterpart of UUNet.

Sramana Mitra: For how much?

Jorn Lyseggen: I think it was $5 million.

Sramana Mitra: How much revenue were you making at that point in the company?

Jorn Lyseggen: Maybe half of that.

Sramana Mitra: Half of that was in revenue?

Jorn Lyseggen: Yes. I don’t remember properly.

Sramana Mitra: That’s fine. We just need a range to anchor the story. We are up to 1997 now?

Jorn Lyseggen: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: What happens next?

Jorn Lyseggen: It was a large company and there were lots of things happening. The company basically had three different owners and four different CEOs in a 12-month period. It was a very unruly place to work. I moved on and became the CEO of one of the competitors in the Norwegian market. With this company, we moved on to build a large entity in Norway. We grew to a pretty large company in the Norwegian market. Then a Swedish company acquired that business for $50 million. Their aspiration was to take this whole thing to the Swedish stock exchange. Then I was appointed as the CEO and ran that unit. Then we consolidated across the Nordic market. We went public on the Swedish stock exchange in early 2000.

Sramana Mitra: This whole journey of the multiple iterations and versions of the companies that you ran, how many years was that?

Jorn Lyseggen: The first was a couple of years. The next period was also a couple of years. We listed the company in the beginning of the year 2000. Then we were a 400-man consulting organization across the Nordic region. At its peak, the market cap was around $500 million.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Bootstrapping to $200 Million: Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater
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