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Hollywood star Alexander Skarsgård is Spotify’s new voice of conscious capitalism—here’s why Sweden is the world leader

Alexander Skarsgård cuts a conflicted figure on the screen. He’s famously portrayed an abusive partner and a psychotic tech billionaire, all with an intensity that would have the world’s most notorious CEOs quaking in their boots.

So it’s no surprise he’s now being cast as the perfect foil to the conflicted world of investing, where the needs of the investor often clash with the needs of the planet. Skarsgård is launching How We Fix This, a new podcast that seeks to highlight some of the world’s most exciting, planet-saving ventures and give listeners fresh access to climate change-fighting role models.

'A complete, profound feeling of emptiness'

Skarsgård is hosting and narrating the new podcast series developed alongside impact-driven non-profit foundation Norrsken, started in 2016 by Klarna co-founder Niklas Adalberth.


Adalberth founded Klarna alongside Victor Jacobsson and current CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski in 2005, but eventually realized his dreams of financial independence weren’t what he imagined.

“I went to Las Vegas to celebrate, ordering champagne and chicken, a big marble floor suite, shopped like crazy, but felt nothing. There was a complete, profound feeling of emptiness.”

This forced Adalberth into therapy and to reassess whether he was making the world a better place with Klarna, a company that was encouraging more consumption and putting added strain on the world’s resources.

He left the company in 2015, progressively selling his shares and in the process missing 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 UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Norrsken has incubated five funds with close to $1 billion in assets under management, backing startups addressing everything from demand for sustainable EV batteries to burping, polluting cows.

The podcast is intended to increase the pool of “role models” for students and graduates poised to help change the world, according to Adalberth.

The Klarna co-founder thinks a breadth of national role models, including Northvolt co-founder Peter Carlsson, is one of the reasons that Sweden excels in winning impact funding.

To raise the profile of impact-based business, Adalberth needed a familiar face to get his message across. Naturally, he turned to fellow countryman Skarsgård.

The Swede-American caught Adalberth’s attention last year when he voiced a short documentary on the financial value of nature.

The actor gave a playful, expletive-filled voiceover to highlight Oxford University research into the tradeoff between GDP and environmental damage. Playing dumb, Skarsgård told his audience then that he would dilute the research “to something even a Hollywood actor could understand.”

Once again, Skarsgård’s role is to be the accessible voice who brings Norrsken’s stories to life.

“This movement needs to happen, it’s not only about capital. It's also a cultural enlightenment that needs to happen. And I think Alexander, with his platform and ability to tell stories, that he is using that to do maximum good with this initiative.” Adalberth says.

Sweden—a global leader in impact

Skarsgård and Adalberth are teaming up with another Swedish tech giant, Spotify, to exclusively publish their podcast.

The Swedes have a strong track record of breeding globally successful companies, such as Spotify, Klarna, and clothes retailer H&M. That entrepreneurial spirit is perhaps paradoxical to Swedish culture and the “law of jante,” which often prevents people from bragging about their successes.

Skarsgård sees why that 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 drawn to the more humble and understated, bordering on self-deprecation,” Skarsgård told Fortune.

But Adalberth and Norrsken’s CCO Daniel Goldberg think that modesty for personal success might be why Sweden is so far ahead of its peers in impact investing.

Sweden gobbles up a huge share of sustainable investing dollars, with 38 times as many impact startups as the world average, according to Adalberth. Where the country might lack in self-promotion, it might gain in a social conscience.

“How we define success, what that does to the overall standards and systems, I think that is something that is maybe more debated, perhaps in Europe and especially Sweden. I think that's where we also see this next generation of startups, perhaps more than the US.”

“Humility or not, the key is probably to have conviction and a strong confidence in yourself and what you’re trying to sell,” Skarsgård says.

Stranger than fiction

Skarsgård has tackled a lot of roles in his time on the screen, most taking advantage of his physicality like Tarzan and the Viking prince Amleth in The Northman or as an abusive husband in Big Little Lies.

But it’s Lukas Matsson, the antagonistic GoJo CEO from HBO’s Emmy-winning series Succession, for which he may be best remembered. It’s hard for any Succession fan not to be drawn into the parallels as Skarsgård wades into the venture capital space.

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

He views Matsson more as an adrenaline junkie motivated by a challenge, rather than someone driven purely by greed. So asked whether he found himself comparing Matsson to the “impact-driven” founders on his podcast series, Skarsgård had a nuanced response.

“The world would probably be a better place with less people like Lukas Matsson and more people like the founders on How We Fix This,” he says.

“But then again, tell a guy like Lukas Matsson there’s no way he can restore all the coral reefs in our oceans.”

This story was originally featured on