Business

Sir Richard Branson, Peter Thiel join in $100M campaign for international startups

Skype founders Taavet Hinrikus and Niklas Zennström have teamed with überinvestor Peter Thiel, Virgin magnate Sir Richard Branson, and a handful of heavyweights from around the world in a new $100 million initiative to help startups.

The gist of the campaign: The partners will give away $100,000,000 in free international money transfers to help EU startups boost their international game.

“This innovative idea for shaking up the financial services sector while helping startups in a practical way has caught the eye of many new businesses already — as well as established brands like Virgin,” said Branson in an emailed statement on the news.

The transfers will be doled out to 1,000 young companies and will help the startups by minimizing bank fees for international financial transactions, from payroll and accounts payable to funding deals and office expansions.

“I remember all too well how depressing it was to throw away the precious little resources we had in the early days of Skype,” said Hinrikus in a statement. “We didn’t have investment and were struggling — every pound and euro needed to count. Working between London, Tallinn, and Stockholm meant we were constantly wasting money on banking fees. It was important to me to do something about this for other startups when I got a chance.”

Interested startups two years or less from their launch date can apply online to participate in the program on a first-come, first-served basis. Each company can claim one voucher valid for one year and worth up to $100,000 in transfer fees. Applications will close on May 10.


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