Who we are
Co-founder and Chair
Catherine Zennström is chair and co-founder of Zennström Philanthropies, founded with her husband Niklas Zennström in 2007. Its mission is to support and engage with organisations that fight for human rights, work to stop climate change and encourage entrepreneurship to protect our natural environment and allow those who live in it to realize their full potential. It works in partnership with around twenty charities.
Catherine focuses her work on the human rights portfolio fighting for the respect of human rights and dignity, mainly in Europe and Central Asia as well as promoting best practice in philanthropy.
Catherine has been active in the field of human rights since high-school where she was inspired by the work of Amnesty International and other campaigning organisations. She later worked as a London-Office volunteer at Médecins Sans Frontières and Amnesty International. She was a trustee with Refuge, a British based organisation dedicated to fighting domestic violence.
She serves as vice chair of the international Board of Directors for Human Rights Watch
She is Chair of their European and Central Asia Advisory Committee, covering both regional and issue-specific programs to help drive forward the organisation mission, to respect rights and secure justice for all. She is also a member of their Disability Rights Advisory Committee, and their Environment and Human Rights Advisory Committee.
Catherine also holds different roles as a Member or Trustee at International Human Rights Funders Group and Ariadne (the Network of European Funders for Social Change and Human Rights) working to support social change, human dignity, human rights and justice, to create societies that are inclusive, just and offer opportunities to all. She served as a trustee at The Philanthropy Workshop (formerly Institute for Philanthropy).
Since then, Catherine is an enthusiastic supporter of organisations working to inspire new philanthropists to engage more actively in funding human rights issues.
She is also part member of the Beacon Collaborative network, promoting greater giving and social investing. She is a Chatham House member. Catherine serves on the Global Philanthropy Forum Advisory Council and since recently on Greenwood Place Advisory Board, philanthropy accelerator which provides advice and support to individuals, families and charitable foundations
Before moving to London, Catherine worked the European telecom industry as a business developer. She was educated at international schools in the US, France and the UK, and holds a BA in Business Administration from the University of Humberside.
Co-founder and Director
Niklas Zennström is CEO and Founding Partner at Atomico. He is an experienced technology investor and entrepreneur, having previously co-founded and managed globally successful technology companies including Skype, Kazaa and Joltid.
In 2006, Niklas founded the venture capital firm, Atomico, to help entrepreneurs, primarily from Europe, to scale their businesses globally. Atomico has partnered with and supported a growing number of highly successful technology companies, including Supercell, Klarna, Rovio, Graphcore, Climate Corporation and many more. It raised its fourth fund in 2016, which was the largest independent venture capital fund ever raised in Europe. In addition to overseeing Atomico’s strategy, he works closely with a number of founders of portfolio companies and sits on the boards of Lilium, Mapillary, Pipedrive, Varjo, Oden Technologies and Farmdrop. Niklas is most excited about founders that are solving major world problems using digital technology.
Prior to Atomico, Niklas co-founded Skype, which became the first truly global category winning online company to be founded outside the US. He has also co-founded and managed other globally successful technology businesses, including Kazaa and Joltid. Niklas helps support the European tech ecosystem as President of the European Tech Alliance (EUTA), a group of fast-growing tech companies that have all been built in Europe.
In 2007, he co-founded Zennström Philanthropies with his wife, Catherine. They invest strategically in two areas: human rights and the environment. Niklas focuses primarily on sustainability projects, supporting organisations that are tackling issues such as climate change and the state of the oceans. The foundation is also funding a professorship at Uppsala University to establish an academic environment focused on climate change leadership.
Niklas also founded the Race for the Baltic, a foundation for a well-managed and sustainable Baltic Sea, one of the most threatened major bodies of water in the world.
Niklas is also a keen yachtsman, and has won four World Championships with his yacht racing team, Rán.
Niklas holds dual degrees in Business and MSc Engineering Physics/Computer Science from Uppsala University in Sweden, and he spent his final year at the University of Michigan.
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