Letter from the Chair of Silicon Vikings

August 19, 2020
by Lars Johansson
Dear Friends,

I'm excited and honored to begin serving as the new Chair of Silicon Vikings.

We live in a time of transition, but before I give a brief update on where we are as an organization, on behalf of the Board, I'd like to thank some incredible people and contributors to Silicon Vikings.

First of all, I want to thank Charlotte Danielsson for her extraordinary efforts and leadership as Executive Director of Silicon Vikings. Many thought, for good reason, that being executive director was her main focus, or only focus, or her main occupation in life, but as some of you know, she also runs her own, very active and successful immigration practice, and between it all (together with Henry) she was able to raise two beautiful and very talented children. We won't let Charlotte go too far and we will continue to work together, but for now we wish her all the best in her law practice.

I also want to thank Richard Horning, co-founder and long term Chair of Silicon Vikings, for his tireless efforts, good stewardship over the years, his mentoring of so many (including me), his ability to recruit excellent executive directors (with Adiba Barney leading the way), and all the deal making he facilitated between the Nordics and Silicon Valley. After 22 years in the role, Richard decided to resign from the position as Chair, but we're pleased that he will remain a resource, as Chairman Emeritus. When the definitive history is written on the influence of Silicon Valley on the Nordics, be it on the entrepreneurial culture or venture finance in the Nordics, or the way things are done, the way an investor pitch is given, or the increased cross-border deal making, Richard will be central and a big part of that history.

Lastly, but not least, I want to thank Eilif Trondsen, a favorite Norwegian presence in the Valley and without whom Silicon Vikings would not be what it is today. Recently Eilif moved to Southern California and resigned from the Board. He was the intellectual, our own Edtech Viking, who never failed to find time to meet with entrepreneurs, who always had a meaningful comment to add, whatever the topic. Eilif was on the board for almost 10 years and his energy is greatly missed. His ability to put together seminars and events on topics always timely, and always focused on innovation, is unmatched. We look forward to finding ways to continue to work together.

So, where are we? We live in an odd and challenging time; a moment when seemingly everyone, everywhere, is seeking to adapt to a new reality that can seem elusive. What will the world be like when this is all over and how transformative will the COVID pandemic have been? And what is the timeline?

At Silicon Vikings, we spent the better part of late spring and early summer intensely debating across our nodes, here and in the Nordics, our path forward. Nothing was off the table and we discussed everything from how we can add value and provide services in a virtual world to organizational structure to governance to how we can finance our activities during the pandemic.

As we touched on our past (it's a rich history by now), we noted that we were early in doing what we do, focusing on mentoring and helping Nordic entrepreneurs prepare for and gain access to Silicon Valley and its ecosystem. Over the past 25 years, we have seen a new kind of Nordic Viking (literate and a bit more sophisticated and perhaps gentler than before) cross the ocean and leave an impact on Silicon Valley.

Looking to the future, it's very clear we will change the way we do things. We will migrate to a more virtual platform and will align ourselves more closely with partners in Silicon Valley and in the Nordics, and possibly other places. We've been inspired and energized by the commitment and forward leaning approach from our colleagues in the Nordics. Many of the changes will be small, a fine tuning of things, but we hope to roll out Silicon Vikings 2.0, the unleashing of the network, in the next couple of months.

Until then, we welcome any feedback, comments or questions from you all. What did we do well and how can we add value going forward?

Be safe and best wishes,

Lars Johansson
Chair | Silicon Vikings
[email protected]