VideoFlow, a new online video distribution and monetization network has come out of closed Beta. The company opened it's Beta already in June to the Finnish fashion blogger community, but now it is open for all the video producer and production houses.
The service was partly build already in early 2009 and has since tried out various different models before finding its current form. You can think of the service almost like 'Adwords for video' that come with the platform. A amateur, semi-amateur or professional video producer can upload its content to the network and distribute in all the platform she wishes. Videoflow will not only host the videos but will include smart content sensitive advertising on the video. Here's the best bit. You can use the platform for free and once you upload the video on your blog or media you will get paid everytime someone watches it. Videoflow will share the revenue between the producer, the publisher (the media owner) and keep a slice to themselves.
Reporting from the Mindtrek conference, I managed to have a chat with Jussi Laakkonen the CEO of Applifier about their service and what's been keeping them busy in the recent months. Only a little over a month ago we reported about the company reaching 55 million monthly active users (MAUs) within Facebook with their cross promotion network. Applifier is the successful (I think we can give it to them already easily) full company pivot from Everyplay, which used to be a 3D social game in Facebook.
Foodie, the mobile application to help you better manage your groceries, is expanding its offering to Nokia phones. the application has recently been available to the iPhone and also as a separate application in Facebook. Foodie isn't your ordinary shopping list app. Foodie is able to learn what you shop for over time and then suggests items based on this learning. What's better, it's able to list the items in a way that they are layed out in the store.
Foodie is currently building its service offering in FInland. Due to a long history with Nokia, it is natural to expand to this platform. Nokia's domination in Finland is still very strong and according to Foodie, the service has been frequently asked to support Nokia phones as well. Users are able to download the mobile app from the Ovi store for Nokia's most recent smart phones, such as N8, E72 and N97.
Last Friday, 100+ people gathered in a converted workshop in Otaniemi to witness the results of the latest AaltoVG Bootcamp. After the traditional welcome words, the teams were lined up and delivered the latest version of their one line/sentence summary of their idea, and having seen them just one week ago the transformation was remarkable.
Disco Empire is a restaurant management game on Facebook. Think Farmville in a night club. Players can make drinks and snacks, and serve them to their happy customers. The company decided to focus its attention on the new game, which was built with monetization in mind from the start. Users can buy virtual goods, such as furniture and other decorative things, for their club. This makes their progression in the game faster. It seems to be working, as the turnover was 20k euros in September, and on track to be profitable this year.
Thinglink, a Finnish product tagging startup based in Helsinki/Palo Alto (see our previous coverage), has just announced it has raised USD 1 million in funding from Nordic Inventure and Lifeline Ventures. The funding will be used to develop in-image product advertising network for brands, retailers and other product advertisers. The firm's reference customers include the Scandinavian media house Aller, the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE (Wenzel’s Antique Road Show), and interior design brand Artek.
Norwegian enterprise feedback management company QuestBack has just announced that they have acquired the Finnish SaaS company Digium Oy. Digium is perhaps the most well known company in this sector in Finland has proven that in their financials as well. In the financial year ending 2009, they turned over about 4 million euros while making over 650k€ in profit. In 2005 they made just about a million in revenue. The new company expects to tally a combined turnover of more than 22 MEUR for 2010. This makes it the largest player in the EFM industry in Europe.
QuestBack has been on a shopping spree lately. They have acquired Easyresearch AB from Sweden and Refleks AS from Norway. Both companies have been integrated fully to QuestBack's operations and thus adding to their turnover in a successful manner.
This morning the results of perhaps the largest survey in the area of immaterial property rights, conducted in Finland, were released. The findings are based on a sample size of 709 companies, so it can be said to be a notable population. In total, the questionnaire was sent to about 17 000 companies founded after the year 2000. In short, the study suggests that only a third of the companies have understanding of IPR-issues while others have not protected nor even understood to cover their work in any way.
To understand and go about something, the first step is usually the understanding of the different terms related to an issue. With regard to IPR-issues, most companies understood terms such as domain names, patents and copyrights and how these are related to your business. However, the umbrella term immaterial property rights (IPR) was only known by 20% of the companies and how it affects their business.
Mediatonic, a new Finnish based fund, has invested into Nitro Games. Nitro Games is a Finnish gaming house that has created games such as Raven's Cry and East India Company. The games fall into the strategy genre and made for the PC. The investment size was not disclosed. Mediatonic won't become a share holder of the company as it invests into the revenue share of future income thus making it an attractive investor for entrepreneurs.
The British football club, Chelsea, has begun to use the Finnish startup Sofanatics' Facebook application in their Facebook fan page. Sofanatics is a startup that revolves around social video, especially from the sports point of view. We've recently written about them extensively, especially regarding the investments and board advisors they've managed to get. Last night, Sofanatics tweeted news that Chelsea has begun using their Facebook app to enable fans to chat amongst themselves. The app enables viewers to chat or those with cameras, to videochat amongst themselves - in essence taking Sofanatics' features and functionalities to Facebook.
Bringing innovation to the recruiting industry is on the minds of many. According to Talentor Group, the company behind Beta.JobGo.com, it's a $10 billion dollar market in the US alone with Monster making a more than 40% profit on the turnover. While there has been a mass movement to online services, many companies still prefer to use regular classifiers and at best, copy the traditional job advertisement in its exact form online.
While there are other ways to go about recruiting, be it job boards or head hunting, there are challenges to these methods as well. Only active job seekers attract different job boards. Furthermore, headhunting is a slow and tedious task - often not worth the investment unless we're talking about C-level executives.
Mediadrive Oy, the company behind Kuvat.fi, the largest Finnish-based photo sharing site has acquired Fotopankki.fi from Vendep. Fotopankki.fi, which was earlier part of the popular Finnish portal site Plaza.fi will be integrated into Kuvat.fi immediately. This isn't the only acquisition carried through by Kuvat.fi. Earlier this year they acquired Kuvaboxi from MTV Media.
Editors Note: This post is the second part of a post we published earlier this week. Do make sure to read the first part before reading this one. The two posts together are an exciting read on some of the reasons why Nokia has ended up where it has.
Managers vs leaders
The manufacturing line mentality also shows up in who Nokia hire. In a factory, good managers control costs and manage efficiency, and workers are interchangeable.
When Nokia decided to be an “internet company”, instead of bringing in leaders and workers with experience and knowledge, Nokia put top managers (with zero Web skills or understanding) in charge (not to mention inappropriate repurposing of coders with the wrong skill-set). I’ve seen a ton of bad decisions in products and services because the division leader (a manager, of course) had no clue what the product was about (but, he was a good finance man, indeed).
MobileMonday, a simple concept that has eventually turned into a large networking platform for all things mobile, celebrates its 10 year birthday this week in Helsinki and Tallinn. According to MobileMonday Estonia, close to 500 people attended the three day summit. There are now 108 chapters around the world helping people network around mobile issues.
The Jaiku co-founder and former Google employee, Jyri Engeström has closed a $775k seed round for his new venture Pingpin. The company is registered in the US and at the same offices as BetaWorks. TechCrunch wrote an extensive story going about the details around the company, which still don't disclose too much information about what they might or might not be up to. BetaWorks and True Ventures as well as Jon Callaghan are listed as the financial backers in the SEC filing.
Grey Area, a new Finnish iPhone gaming startup (see our previous coverage), has been operating silently the past months, but now the firm has released a new teaser trailer and screenshots of their upcoming location-based MMORPG for iPhone called Shadow Cities. The game transforms the neighborhoods and familiar streets as part of the game world, visible to the player through iPhone. The tagline is "Your city is a game." The company promises the game will be available on the iTunes App Store in late 2010.
In Finland, it is relatively common for larger employers to give lunch vouchers to employees as a benefit. They're usually closer to the 10€ range in value, while the employee payes a certain tax deductible price for the voucher. The problem with these vouchers is that you usually get them in a set, valued at a standard price. This creates a common problem as not all lunches are equally priced, making a difference in values (if your voucher is valued higher than the purchase, you cannot get the difference back in change). Long story short - EazyBreak is bringing a digital solution to all this nonsense. In short, the service aims to be more user friendly from many different perspectives be it administrative or the fact that you can pay for the exact amount of the lunch.
At the end of August, the Estonian startup scene’s biggest gathering took place. Garage48 is a meetup of hackers, designers, entrepreneurs and hobbyists, who join forces to create a startup in 48 hours, similarly to Startup Weekend or GameJam.
The event takes place twice a year. I was very surprised by the high amount of participation: 100 people came from various countries. Clearly, Estonia has a strong and enthusiastic startup scene. The organizers also invited mentors to help the teams: Jon Bradford from The Difference Engine, Michael Jackson from Bootcamp Denmark and myself. There were also some of the founding members of Skype bouncing ideas with the startups.
As you all know, it’s been an interesting few weeks at Nokia - a new CEO, top executives leaving, the company stock wallowing at absurdly low values. When Ville Vesterinen asked me what I thought of the changes and the cultural and organizational challenges Nokia has to deal with to move forward, I knew I had a lot to say.
I worked for Nokia for a long time mostly in marketing and product development, leaving in the Great Exodus of talent in the summer of 09. My time at Nokia was marked by MS Stinger and our response with S60 and the 7650; the (slow) rise of 3G; iTunes and offspring (iPhone); and the rise of Web 2.0, Google, and Facebook.