Mail.ru Group recently reported a fiscal year revenue growth of 63,5% in 2010, reaching $324M. The Group's net profit was reported to be $76.7M, up from $47.2M in 2009. Dmitry Grishin, co-founder and CEO, explained that the growing revenues came as a result of the Group's ability to benefit from a growing potential and engagement in the Russian Internet market. Other likely reasons are the general economic recovery and a strong shift among advertisers towards online ads, which were the biggest source of Mail.ru Group's revenue. They made up $124M of the overall sum (up from $75.9M in 2009). MMO games brought in almost a third of the overall revenue - a whopping $99.8M, up from $61.4 in 2009.The overall number of unique monthly visits to Mail.ru Group's properties amounted to 27,2M in December 2010, 21% more than in 2009 but still slightly less than Yandex got that year.
Amazon has joined the Android app race with their own store in the US, according All Things Digital. The store isn't available at least in Finland and an attempt to access it simply redirects one to the Amazon front page. Amazon is claiming that since it's a retailer already, it can do a better job in selling apps than Google itself. For developers, it adds fragmentation as there are now at least three sites one has to be present in if you want to reach the masses, The Google Android Market, Amazon App Store and the Baltics originated GetJar.
Students in Finland have come a long way in a few years. Last night, Finland saw one of its most impressive events in support of growth entrepreneurship - all organised by a small group of passionate students. What makes this all the better, is that the event was covered by numerous national media and the panelists at the actual event included the hotshots of Finnish business environment; a mix of very influential business people and a group of startup entrepreneurs. The event was called "Finland Post Welfare", questioning the things Finland should work on to sustain its welfare status. It was put together by Aalto Entrepreneurship Society.
We live blogged the event last night in English as the event itself was held in Finnish. As it's not the best use of anyone's time to suggest that you go through the logs - we'll do our best to summarise the event in this post.
We live blogged the Finland Post Welfare from Finlandia Hall. Below, you'll be able to find the log of the live blog. We'll have a summary of the event available on ArcticStartup tomorrow morning.
Behind every successful company there are years of hard work. Each founding story is unique and fascinatingly interesting, especially when you talk about Internet businesses emerging from the Soviet Russia. Forbes has recently published an exclusive interview with Yandex's founding fathers Arkady Volozh (CEO) and Ilja Segalovich (CTO). Today Yandex has 28M unique monthly visitors and more than 80% of Runet's audience uses the website to search for information online. The company is set to file for an IPO sometime this year and its potential value is estimated in billions. Where did this success come from and how did it all start? Those were some of the questions the article answered.
I haven't seen any Wikileaks revelations regarding startups, not that they should have too much in common in the first place. However, I've just come across a US Embassy cable regarding the video streaming and rental service Voddler via a tweet from Mikko Hyppönen, the CRO of F-Secure. In doing so, the cables reveal some interesting figures from 2009 regarding the service.
Lasse Männistö and Taneli Tikka came out yesterday with a three point suggestion to renew the governmental work regarding startups and growth companies. The timing is intentional and perfect, later tonight Aalto Entrepreneurship Society will host a panel discussion with some of the most renown business men and women Finland has. Taneli Tikka is one of the more acknowledged Finnish serial entrepreneurs and Lasse Männistö, a member of the Helsinki City Council, is a candidate running for Finnish Parliament.
The recommendations can be read on Lasse Männistö's website, for example, but we'll summarise the points and other discussion it has sparked. Like we've written before, Finland will see its parliamentary elections in April and many startup entrepreneurs would like to see the topic included among the other important discussion items. Many, rightly so, believe focus on startups is one of the key ways to improve the economy in the long term.
Independent Finnish game-developing start-up Ookoohko has recently published their first title Get Outta My Galaxy. It's a 3D action game with puzzle elements for iPhone and iPod Touch (an iPad version with extra features is one the way). The game is set on multiple planets where you get to control a fat four-armed creature called Waka whose peaceful existence is disturbed by various aliens (called Wikus). Being a grumpy anti-social creature, Waka needs to go all around each planet and slap the aliens to send them back into the open space. Apart from aliens, Waka needs to deal with different plants that hurt him and solve puzzles to open doors. You control Waka by simply tilting your device to various directions and you can slap aliens by tapping anywhere on the screen.
Finnish business magazine Talouselämä has published a story on Rovio, the creators of Angry Birds, where they state that the company is seeking to go public in New York. Rovio Board Chairman Kaj Hed, father of Mikael Hed, the CEO, has stated that the $42 million in financing it announced last week was the first step towards this direction. In the story, Kaj Hed also discloses that they were pretty much able to choose their investors and state the terms of the deal - something not many startups get to do in their lifecycle.
Inform-mobil (IMMO), Russian mobile content and service provider, has recently published a list of top 10 most sold Java mobile games in Russia. According to the list, the most downloaded title was Who Wants To Be A Millionare? 2010, followed by two racing games Dakar 2010 and Need For Speed Shift. Most of the games were produced by global game publishers like Glu Mobile, EA Mobile and Disney. However, compared to similar lists IMMO has been publishing over the years, the number of most downloaded games by Russian developers has increased from one in 2008 to four in 2010. Russian game developers behind the four out of ten most popular mobile games for the last year included Herocraft, Net Lizard and INT Corporation. Most of those companies were founded in early 2000 and have developed dozens of games over the years.
Sofanatics, the Finnish startup that is aiming to become the best way to chat about sports, debuted their new chat interface earlier this week in the Bayern Munchen vs. Inter Milan Champions League match.
Stardoll states itself as the largest online community for girls who love fashion. Indeed, it's getting very big. Last night we caught a retweet by Henrik Torstensson, a former SVP of strategy at Stardoll, stating that Stardoll is getting close to acquiring its 100 millionth member. We got in touch with Stardoll and they stated that they're not there yet, but getting close.
Zerply is California based startup, that has its roots in Sweden and Estonia, through its co-founders. Zerply aims to be the best way to present yourself in a professional way. What they currently have available to the public, is bunch of very stylish profile pages which integrate relatively seamlessly to other online services. However, there's a lot more in store according to Christofer Karltorp.
Podio, a Copenhagen-based start-up, is about to officially open up their service to the public. As a build-up for the launch, Podio's team will be relocated to San Francisco between March 21st and 25th where they would host workshops, meetings and networking sessions. The website will be launched on March 24th. Podio has been reappearing in media's headlines ever since they came out of the stealth mode last September. Their mission is to change the way people work and what they offer to that end is a comprehensive enterprise software. Their platform includes all possible tools you might need for your work: from calendar to messaging to contact and task management and more. On top of that, users can easily build their own apps or use those built by others from Podio's appstore. Podio is free for small companies (up to 10 users) and chargers a subscription fee for larger enterprises. Even though the service has been operating on invite-only basis so far, they have managed to attract over 6000 companies, a couple of hundred of which are paying customers.
Bonnier has been one of the Nordic front runners amongst the media companies, researching and trying to put together pieces on how to best harness new technology for the media industry.
Back in 2009 and 2010 the Bonnier R&D department came out with a concept called Mag+, a new way to experience media on a tablet. Later on, Björn Jeffery now Director of Digital Commerce at Bonnier Digital, started a Brickmark as part of Bonnier Digital. Emil Ovemar joined him and together they developed the focus of the new company; new digital products and services. We interviewed Emil Ovemar about something new they're working on, called Toca Boca.
Russian economy must be recovering from the economic crisis judging by the number of start-ups that are raising funding. Another service that recently got funded is a peer review site Tulp. Quintura reported that the company received unattributed $3M funding. The site was created in 2009 by Taisiya Kydashkina first as a blog about city events. After a visit to the Silicon Valley in 2010, Taisiya got inspired by Yelp and their success and decided to implement the lessons learned in the Russian context. As a result, Tulp became a social network where anyone can add and rank reviews of various places: from cafes to sportsclubs, theaters and shops. The website is heavily oriented towards women (they make up about 60% of all users) and Internet newcomers, whose number is constantly growing.
Rdio, the online music straming company founded by the former Skype founders, Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, has announced that they will be releasing a set of APIs to developers, according to ReadWriteWeb. This comes as an attempt to try and go around Apple's counter announcement of them charging 30% of new subscribers that will come through their iPhone apps, a move which has been widely criticized for "killing the online music business". Margins are very low and online streaming services such as Rdio (and Spotify for that matter) are scrambling to find new ways to keep the business model afloat.
Facebook is one of the biggest online destinations people use globally. Facebook itself has been very careful not to let go of these people too easily. People are extremely engaged with the service and all new features they add, are built around this view. Video chat is no exception. We have been hearing reports of a possibility of Facebook video chat coming soon in partnership with Skype.
Back in February we wrote about Microtask launching a joint project with the Finnish National Library to use crowdsourcing to correct digitized content. Today Microtask has announced that more than 25 000 people have completed small pieces of work in helping correctly digitize the content through two games.
Star Arcade, launching today, is a new gaming community from Finland, aimed at the next billion mobile phone users. Star Arcade's primary markets are around the world, in India, South America, Far East and Africa. The company has been founded by Harri Myllylä and Jonne Castrén. Harri Myllylä was one of the founders behind Openbit Oy, a company marketing and developing mobile payment and DRM solution. The company was sold to a publicly listed Indian company in 2008. Jonne Castrén is one of the founders of 3D Arts Oy, a creator of mobile games.