Why Stockholm’s startup community will protest outside Sweden’s parliament
The Swedish parliament building will be filled with entrepreneurs Wednesday. The reason: A protest to make politicians more aware of the growing startup community in the Swedish capital and what it needs to keep growing.
‘‘A lot of us think of ourselves as a part of the future economy of the country. I think we offer a lot where things are heading,’’ says Tyler Crowley, the organizer of the protest in the latest episode of Smashdig’s podcast. ‘‘We need the government to start thinking about us as the future job creators that we are.’’
The background of the protest is the open letter sent out by the founders of music streaming service Spotify in April.
In the letter, Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon gave politicians a number of points they felt needed to be addressed for the global company to stay in Stockholm:
- Access to housing, especially rentals, must improve.
- The education system must evolve so more people can study to become, and later work as, programmers and developers to meet the demand of the startup community.
- Tax rules must be simplified. Spotify wants to, for example, make it easier to award employee stock options.
Shortly after the letter was published, Crowley, who’s hosting the monthly Stockholm Tech Meet-up event as well as the annual Stockholm Tech Fest conference, decided to organize a protest.
‘‘I realized rather instantly that this was a community issue. If Spotify’s going to stand out and make statements like this, I don’t want them to feel like they are alone. And I don’t want the government to think they are doing it alone either,’’ says Crowley. ‘‘When Spotify is making its points, the thing I want to politicians to think about is that it’s not just Spotify. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of startups standing right behind Spotify’s open letter.’’
In recent years, Stockholm has become a popular startup city. The city has now reached the point where other cities are beginning to notice and want to copy the success, says Crowley.
It’s therefore important for politicians to listen to the issues and needs of the community in order to be able to grow the city and its startup community, he says.
‘‘The guy who started Halo in London, he can start his company anywhere. He started Halo in London and now he wants to start his next company in Stockholm,’’ says Crowley.
The perhaps biggest issue for startups and its employees is the housing crisis.
Stockholm is, like many cities around Sweden, is suffering from a housing crisis. It’s difficult to find apartments in the city making it tough to attract talents, says Crowley and adds that’s the reason he’s not in Stockholm full-time.
However, he’s glad the issues are now being brought before the politicians, several of whom are startup-friendly, Crowley says.
‘‘When someone like Spotify says things like that, it’s not to be taken lightly. They don’t have to send a letter like that. They can just do what they want to do. But they are saying ‘hey, if we can, let’s make a difference’,’’ says Crowley. ‘‘They just raised a billion dollars. They are going to spend it somewhere and I think we would all prefer, I think the government would prefer, that they spent it in Sweden in creating hundreds of new jobs. Why send those jobs outside?’’
You can hear the full interview with Tyler Crowley in episode four of Smashdig’s podcast (embedded). The interview starts at the 16:45 mark.SpotifyTyler CrowleyStartups