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Hollywood star Alexander Skarsgrâd is the new voice of conscious capitalism on Spotify

Hollywood star Alexander Skarsgrâd is the new voice of conscious capitalism on Spotify
Hollywood star Alexander Skarsgrâd is the new voice of conscious capitalism on Spotify


Alexander Skarsgräd presents a contradictory character on screen. He portrayed an abusive partner and a psychotic tech billionaire, all with an intensity that would make the world's most famous CEOs tremble.

It's no surprise, then, that it's now being touted as the perfect complement to the conflicted world of investing, where the needs of the investor often conflict with the needs of the planet. Skarsgrd launches How we solve this, a new podcast that seeks to spotlight some of the world's most exciting companies saving the planet and give listeners new access to models for tackling climate change.

A feeling of complete and deep emptiness

Skarsgrd hosts and narrates the new podcast series developed alongside the non-profit Norrsken Foundation, launched in 2016 by Klarna co-founder Niklas Adalberth.

Adalberth founded Klarna alongside Victor Jacobsson and current CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski in 2005, but ultimately realized his dreams of financial independence were not what he imagined.

I went to Las Vegas to celebrate, ordered champagne and chicken, a big suite with marble floors, shopped like crazy, but felt nothing. There was a feeling of complete and deep emptiness.

This forced Adalberth to seek therapy and re-evaluate whether he was making the world a better place with Klarna, a company that encouraged more consumption and put additional strain on the world's resources.

He left the company in 2015, gradually selling his shares and losing his chance to become a billionaire.

What followed was Norrsken, a venture capital fund that focuses on impact startups, or companies addressing one or two of the United Nations 17. Sustainable Development Goals. Norrsken has incubated five funds with nearly $1 billion in assets under management, backing startups addressing everything from demand for sustainable electric vehicle batteries to polluting cow burps.

The podcast aims to increase the pool of role models for students and graduates ready to help change the world, according to Adalberth.

The Klarna co-founder believes a wide range of national role models, including Northvolt co-founder Peter Carlsson, is one of the reasons Sweden excels at securing impact funding.

To raise the profile of impact-based businesses, Adalberth needed a familiar face to get his message across. Naturally, he turned to his compatriot Skarsgrd.

The Swedish-American came to Adalberth's attention last year when he made a short documentary about the financial value of nature.

The actor delivered a playful, swear-filled voiceover to highlight Oxford University's research into the trade-off between GDP and environmental damage. Playing the fool, Skarsgrd then told his audience that he would dilute the research to get something that even a Hollywood actor could understand.

Once again, Skarsgrds' role is to be the accessible voice that brings Norrsken's stories to life.

This movement must take place. It’s not just about capital, but also about a cultural enlightenment that needs to happen. And I think Alexander, with his platform and his ability to tell stories, he uses that to do as much good as possible with this initiative, Adalberth said.

Courtesy of Spotify

Sweden, world leader in impact

Skarsgrd and Adalberth are partnering with another Swedish tech giant, Spotify, to exclusively release their podcast.

The Swedes have a strong track record of building successful businesses on a global scale, such as Spotify, Klarna and retailer H&M. This entrepreneurial spirit may be contrary to Swedish culture and the law of rim, which often prevents people from bragging about their successes.

Skarsgrd understands why this could be a disadvantage in the business world.

My observation as a Swedish-American, and I'm obviously generalizing here, is that Americans have a real talent for storytelling and big ideas. Swedes tend to be attracted to people who are more humble and quiet, bordering on self-deprecating, Skarsgrd said. Fortune.

But Adalberth and Daniel Goldberg, CCO of Norrsken, believe a modest approach to personal success could be why Sweden is so far ahead of its peers when it comes to impact investing.

Sweden swallows up a huge share of sustainable investments, with 38 times more impact startups than the global average, according to Adalberth. What the country lacks in self-promotion, it gains in social consciousness: how do we define success, what impact does this have on global standards and systems? I think this is something that is perhaps the subject of more debate, perhaps in Europe and particularly in Sweden. I think that's where we're also seeing this next generation of startups, maybe more so than in the United States.

Humility or not, the key is probably to have conviction and strong confidence in yourself and what you're trying to sell, Skarsgrd says.

Stranger than fiction

Skarsgrd has taken on many roles during his time on screen, taking advantage of his physique by playing Tarzan and the Viking prince Amleth in The Northerner or as an abusive husband in Big little lies.

But it's Lukas Matsson, GoJo's antagonistic CEO from the Emmy-winning HBO series. Succession, for which he will perhaps be best remembered. It's difficult for anyone Succession fan of not getting drawn into the parallels as Skarsgrd moves into the venture capital space.

After playing Matsson for two years, Skarsgrd still doesn't know what drives the character, who seemingly had no boundaries when he ventured into a hostile takeover of media group Waystar Royco.

He sees Matsson more as an adrenaline junkie motivated by a challenge, rather than someone motivated solely by greed. When asked if he found himself comparing Matsson to the impact-focused founders of his podcast series, Skarsgrd had a nuanced response.

The world would probably be a better place with fewer people like Lukas Matsson and more people like the founders of How we solve this, he says.

But then again, tell a guy like Lukas Matsson that he has no way of restoring all the coral reefs in our oceans.

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