This story is from the 2015 Access 25. Explore more from this issue

Micro-multinationals

Size is no longer a deterrent to global competition.

You’ve no doubt heard of “Angry Birds,” the online game that’s been downloaded more than 1 billion times since 2009 and which spawned an entire entertainment empire. You might have even heard of Rovio, the Finnish company that created it. What you might not know is that Rovio started as a micro-multinational — a three-person operation that collaborated with partners around the world. It’s not hard to see why such companies can compete on a global scale. Low staffing and overhead costs make them nimble. Open-source software and cloud-based data storage provide computing power that was unthinkable less than a decade ago. And free or low-cost services such as those provided by Skype and Sonetel — both of which also started out as micro-multinationals — enable seamless communication along cross-border value chains.

Perhaps no surprise then, that a McKinsey study found that 90 percent of small commercial eBay sellers — from nations as diverse as India, Chile, South Africa, and the U.S. — now sell their products across international borders. Or that Foreign Policy magazine predicts micro-multinationals will soon “run the world.”

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