When it comes to countries with “tech cred,” Sweden could be leading the pack in Europe. Outside of Silicon Valley, Sweden has the highest per capita numbers of ‘unicorns,’ which are startups valued at more than $1 billion. The common thread? According to “Hello World” host Ashlee Vance, these Swedish upstarts are able to “tap in to our desire and make simple things we can’t escape. Outside of Silicon Valley, it’s the world leader in fostering tech addiction.”
This second episode of “Hello World” focuses squarely on Sweden, from its treehouse hotels and robots that look almost too real to the Facebook data center in Northern Sweden, which is believed to be the world’s most efficient data center. Sweden is also home to tech industry darlings—and consumer app favorites— Spotify, Skype, Minecraft and Candy Crush, which all made their respective starts in Sweden.
Whether perfecting robot-human interactions at Furhat Robotics or hanging out at the local techie lounge, Epicenter, today’s Swedes aren’t only ambitious technophiles, but they are also a generation raised on technology. According to this episode, many years ago the Swedish government built high-speed Internet lines for all, subsidized PC purchases and started to teach computer science at schools. This is the technology culture that nurtured Daniel Ek, co-founder and CEO of Spotify, as well as Minecraft creator Markus Persson. Though the success of both made following a Swedish tradition to eschew attention and avoid bragging a challenge.
But being home to what could be the world’s most power-efficient data center might cause some Swedes to boast. Facebook uses cool Artic air to keep the thousands of servers housing Facebook images, data and more safe from overheating. The company is also smart to tap in to some of the many hydroelectric dams and 15 power stations along the Lule River to keep power costs down. Facebook is free to users after all. The culture in Sweden also dictates that the power stations restock the river with salmon to maintain the balance between nature and technology. Sounds like Sweden strikes that balance well.