Mikkel Svane

Zendesk

Mikkel Svane

Zendesk's chief executive officer–and the newly-minted author of Startupland–Mikkel Svane leads a cloud-based software firm dedicated to helping companies build lasting, engaging relationships with their customers. Zendesk is also at the forefront of revitalizing San Francisco's mid-Market area. Its newly opened second office in the neighborhood offers dedicated community space and employs local volunteers on a daily basis.


The Challenge:
"Our biggest obstacle came in our early days, when we launched Zendesk in Copenhagen. We sought capital to grow the business and found it difficult to find investors in Europe. Then we faced the market downturn and almost thought that we wouldn't make it. Luckily, in 2009 we secured two major venture capitalists and decided to move to the United States and, ultimately, San Francisco. This allowed us to rapidly expand our business and tap into the amazing startup culture of the Bay Area."

The Drive:
"I've been so privileged to lead Zendesk through its many stages of growth and meet so many new people. This year marked a major milestone for us when we went public on the New York Stock Exchange. Most important, I love that Zendesk is fostering relationships around the world."

The Homestretch:
"As a family, we enjoy everything that a modern, bustling city like San Francisco has to offer. We also like the fact that we're able to live in an urban setting while being in a neighborhood that has a village vibe. And incredible places like Napa, Lake Tahoe, and Big Sur are only a few hours away, making the area even more appealing for a young family like ours."

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The Cause:
"The St. Anthony Foundation has been serving the needs of San Francisco from its Tenderloin location for 64 years. Zendesk first became involved in St. Anthony's through its tech lab, which offers computer classes, tutoring, job-search counseling, and Internet access to lower-income and homeless residents of San Francisco. This year, Zendesk engineers partnered with St. Anthony's to create Link-SF.com, the first mobile-optimized website to connect San Francisco's homeless population and low-income residents with important resources." zendesk.com www.stanthonysf.org

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