In our discussion area, I posted a while back an item on the Slow death of Dopplr. It didn't receive a lot of comments, but the two that were posted got me thinking for the almost 10 days that this is actually a very interesting, yet very sensitive, topic. Vanity acquisitions are those where the acquirer is mainly buying the talent of the startup and does not have much of a will to integrate the startup's tech or business into their own line of business. Yet, be it a vanity acquisition or not - these sort of deals are (almost) always celebrated in the startup community by all. Is it the ultimate goal of an entrepreneur to sell your company no matter what the consequences? Should we be more interested in whom we sell to or does it really matter if the check is big enough?
Voddler, the Swedish movie startup that is in many ways referred to as the "Spotify for movies", has announced today that it has added social features to its service. We recently wrote about Voddler getting more powder on board with its 40 million Swedish Kronor investment, where one of the biggest investors was the Finnish communications company Elisa. With the new features, Voddler is looking to attract of course more suggestions of movies and thus usage of their service. Regardless of this, I think this is an extremely natural direction to move into.
Mindtrek is one of the notable technology and startup oriented conferences taking place in the Nordics that startups should pay attention to. Why? For one, they are giving away 20 010 € worth of prize money to most attractive startups that match their Launchpad criteria. This year's finalists, that will be pitching at the event, have been announced. They are listed in alphabetical order below.
Finnish social gaming startup Rocket Pack is preparing its first casual multi-platform MMO, expected to come into beta in a few weeks. However, maybe the most interesting aspect of the company is that as a "side" product of the development, they have build a game engine and complete tool set for game developers to build browser-based single player games, Facebook games, and browser-based MMOs that work cross-platform. That is, the games run on PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Android, smartphones - on all major browsers, without any plugin installations required.
Blurt.at is another of the Garage48 projects that were launched over the duration of 48 hours a few weeks back. They haven't stopped with their development and are moving full steam ahead with the idea. Blurt.at is a new way to create polls and comment on them. The project team behind the idea, according to Garage48 website, was Anu Viks, Sander Jahilo, Maret Kruve, Priit Salumaa, Asko Seeba, Meelis Kaldalu, Jaan Tallinn (as well as Ahti Heinla and Jaen Saul were helping out).
Two weeks ago, we decided to drive to the Baltics together with people from AaltoVG, to promote the Finnish startup scene, find great stories, and build stronger collaboration with the region. There is too little interaction between the Baltics. Each country stands as a standalone, tiny market, forced to internationalize to make a difference. We believe that if we can collaborate more with our nearby neighbors, great things will happen! This is my first article in a series of posts about the Baltics.
Guest post by Andy Cars, the founder and CEO of Seedcap AB based in Stockholm. Seedcap AB help entrepreneurs and start-ups to raise capital. You can read Andy's previous post on the 10 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Often Make When Raising Capital here. Here Andy talks about an alternative to locking-up your valuation too early.
Many entrepreneurs that seek external capital to finance their startups often find the valuation of their companies difficult. How do I know what my company is worth? Moreover, by its very nature the founder often believes his company to be worth more than what the investor is prepared to accept, which in the end leaves the founder without a deal.
A Finnish startup, Starduck Studios, will be launching Intoloop, a social network around passions, later this year. Intoloop is aiming to become a global social network around passions. They have been testing the service over the summer and are looking forward to opening it up to everyone later this year. Starduck Studios has been very secretive about their product and even with this announcement. They don't disclose too much with this announcement either, except for the financing of the company.
The recent replacement of Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo by Stephen Elop, and Anssi Vanjoki’s departure so soon after his appointment as Mobile Solutions Leader, is being met with anticipation and concern equally. With the shakeup happening on the eve of the company’s most important Nokia World, it feels as if the Old Nokia is leaving place for a New Nokia to be born.
Earlier this year, we suggested 7 ways Nokia can win again. We believe there is no better time than now for these changes to happen. However, the question remains whether the company can win the trust of shareholders and the public.
The Finnish mobile media startup, Blyk, has closed a very impressive 17 million euro investment lead by Nexit Ventures and other individual investors. Blyk started off its path in 2006 as an ad supported virtual mobile operator, which was later pivoted to focusing on the mobile advertising platform as a business of its own. Blyk's revenues in the recent years have averaged around 12 to 22 million euros with over a six hundred thousand euro profit in 2009.
Back in June we wrote about Zokem receiving a 2 million euro investment and the company pivoting towards a new area of business. A short while ago, I sat down with Hannu Verkasalo to talk about the progress they've achieved in the recent months after their pivot and to see whether it has been successful. In short - it has, and it has taken the company very rapidly in the new direction. There seems to be a lot of interest from market research companies in the data Zokem is able to gather to further understand consumer behaviour.
Sayat.me is a new Estonian startup looking to enable better, honest albeit anonymous feedback about people (to begin with). The service was founded by Asko Seeba as well as Priit Salumaa and Indrek Ulst. In its short existence, it has build traction quite a bit and today traffic is north of 20 000 unique daily visitors.
Applifier is a new Finnish startup that was pivoted from Everyplay, which was originally a social games developer. Applier is a cross-promotion network of independent social application developers on Facebook. It's user base has blow up over night and gone from zero to 55 million users in four months. The service currently represents over 100 social games and applications, and reaches more than 55 million monthly active users (MAUs). According to the company, it reaches more Facebook users than any social game publisher, except of course Zynga.
Podio, a Danish started formerly known as Hoist (see our story here), launched and announced a new CEO. Tommy Ahlers invested in the young startup at the same time as he took the helm as their new CEO. Ahlers is one of the most successful Danish entrepreneurs. He founded ZYB in 2005 and sold it for €31 million to Vodafone in 2008.
Podio is all about working smarter. Think Basecamp, but without the complexity. Huddle and Jive are close too, but according to Ahlers, the closest competitor will be the soon-reborn Yammer that is about to launch. Also a Finnish Flowdock comes close, but they were never able to emerge from the early Beta to full fledged product (see our story here). In a word Podio is a souped-up social platform with messaging, calendar, tasks and contact management with a proprietary Appstore for all the other tools for a smooth workflow.
According to Talouselämä, a Finnish business magazine, the Finnish mobile operator Elisa has bought an approximately 10% share of Voddler in their latest stock emission. The Swedish Dagens Industri writes that Voddler will be collecting approximately 40 million crowns in the emission, possibly valuing the company at 300 million crowns (about 30 million euros).
ArcticEvening Stockholm took place last night in Obaren, Sturehof despite being organised on the same date with Sweden playing against San Marino in football. The event was very high profile due to the panelists, having put in energy to come to Obaren from all over the Baltic region.
Kristoffer Lawson, co-founder of Scred, came to talk to ArcticStartup sometime in the spring time about a project he had been thinking of pulling through. After the meeting I couldn't quite grasp the breadth of the journey and project he had been talking to us about. Now that it's public and he's about to set on his journey - I'm thrilled to say that ArcticStartup has partnered with Travelling Salesman, aka. Kristoffer Lawson, to promote his trip in our media. The project has a website, but he'll also be blogging with us and giving us updates on how things go.
The Finnish online gaming company behind Habbo Hotel, Sulake, has reported it's 2009 earnings along with H1 2010 figures. In 2009, Sulake accumulated a loss of 4.4 million euros. However, it also reported that for 2010 revenue reached 29.1 million euros which is 20% higher than in 2009 in the same period. Furthermore, EBITDA in the same period increased 63% to 3.5 million euros with a solidly positive cash flow, according to the company blog post.
‘’The markets are on the web, the production power is on the web, both globally available for everyone’’ Mårten Mickos, CEO, Eucalyptus Systems.
Let’s do a small intellectual play: Web 2.0 services, or the current generation’s internet companies globally, are built for the most part on top of the so-called LAMP-stack. In other words their infrastructure is based on Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP – a selection of open source software programs.
Aalto Venture Garage is putting together a busy two week program they call Bootcamp. Bootcamp is to be held four times a year and it's an intensive program aimed at speeding up already existing early stage ventures. The first Bootcamp is to be run between September 17th and 30th. They are now accepting applications, but be quick - the deadline is September 8th. A mentoring program wouldn't be anything without high profile mentors and well enough, Aalto Venture Garage has managed to secure a good lineup of Finnish startup professionals. Mind you, the program isn't only aimed at Finnish startups - it's open for everyone around the Baltic rim.