Sten Tamkivi, Estonian Founders Society (asutajad.ee)
I applaud the effort from Prudentia and Nasdaq on the first attempt of mapping out where the somewhat hidden value resides in our economy. It is relatively easy to build rankings of established and stable industries, like comparing the annual profits of a local energy monopoly to the largest of local market telecom. Those brands are known, balance sheets full of hard assets and cash flows predictable to perpetuity.
The Top25 Tech companies presented are much trickier to evaluate. They are in heavy investment mode, consciously choosing to reinvest all the profits they make (if any yet) and often much more. When investors advance them the cash to invest into scaling, then both parties agree on how they value the future potential of the company, not anything “current”. As a result, startup valuations often balloon along the most optimistic hopes and dreams.
Yet, if you fast forward 10 years, the companies who dream big, and bravely scale their business around the globe are the ones that create most jobs, pay most taxes and bring more cash into Estonian economy from abroad. In a word: supply our economy with life blood of the future.
The Top3 of this year’s chart have already become household names in Estonia. When talking to friends abroad, Estonians already refer to Wise, Bolt or Pipedrive proudly as “ours” as we used to do with Skype a decade ago. It helps that these companies have millions of everyday users around the globe, giving them broad recognition regardless of how tiny their home country is on the map.
The list gets more intriguing from there on. If you are curious to know where our next unicorns come from, now it is the time to think if they are hidden in Skeleton supercapacitors, ride in on Starship robots or are one identity verification away by Veriff.
As a side remark, please pay attention to where our most valuable tech companies have chosen to register their legal entities. Half of the Top10 are in Estonia, and others have been pulled toward the global hubs in US and UK. A strategic question for our government and policy makers here is: why? How can we bring even more of their activities home?
And as with all such comparison charts, often it is more interesting to observe the change and dynamics over years to come, rather than one isolated snapshot of where things are today. Now that we have a baseline, congrats to all entrepreneurs who made the Top25. At the Founders Society we will cheer for how much more value you will create by this time next year!