When filing for an IPO Mail.ru Group disclosed some interesting financial indicators for the different platforms they own. At the moment Mail.ru Group itself is mostly owned by Digital Sky Technologies, a Russian investment fund. Mail.ru Group's fixed assests include 10% of Mail.ru portal, 100% of a social network Odnoklassniki, 91% of recruitment portal Headhunter.ru, 100% of ICQ LLC, 24,99% of Russia's biggest social network Vkontakte.ru, 25,09% of QIWI Investments, 2,38% of Facebook, 1,47% of online-game developer Zynga Inc. and 5,13% of Groupon. On top of that Mail.ru owns minority shares in a plethora of Russian and Ukrainian Internet companies.
While watching the LeWeb live stream, a Eathen Beard from Facebook just disclosed in an interview with Michael Arrington that Facebook is the largest source of referrals for Spotify. Spotify launched the social side of its service earlier this year, and we covered it in detail, but not a lot of buzz has been written about the results of this new service.
This is the second part of the video interview with Niklas Zennström of Atomico. In this part we continue discussion on how Atomico sees certain industries regarding their investments as well as at what stage startups should contact Atomico and how. Zennström also goes on to tell that entrepreneurs in the Nordics and Baltics should be braver - we are by nature perhaps a little too timid.
Seedcamp has just announced earlier today about their launch of a new service, seedsummit, which is aimed to help startups find investors more easily. It's in short, the AngelList for the rest of us. Seedsummit has no specific geographic focus and it has angels listed from Africa, Asia, Europe, Nordics and Baltics to name a few. While there are only a few names listed, I'm sure it will supply a need in demand.
While being very careful about this - as the facts are somewhat questionable, Fortune's Tech blog Google24/7 suggests that Google's Andy Rubin might know something more about Nokia and their view on the Android platform. At yesterday's AllThingsD -conference the Google VP let out a few things regarding a possible Nokia's venture into the Android platform.
Listed on the Nasdaq OMX Helsinki, the Finnish software house Digia has ventured into music business with new mobile app called Flow'd. Flow'd is a location aware application that helps you better connect with the artists you love. The app is a better development of the first generation location based apps out there and nicely adds more value to its predecessors of the likes of Gowalla and Foursquare.
Last week Niklas Zennström, together with Atomico visited Helsinki to talk to startups and promote their early stage investment company. I had the chance to sit down with Zennström and talk about the Nordic and Baltic investment environment, Atomico as well as some of their investments. Below is the first part of the video interview in a little over 7 minute clip.
Huikea is a Finnish iOS development startup that is developing a multiplayer game for the Apple iPad. The company co-founder Teemu Kurppa is one of the early employees of Jaiku and he co-founded the company together with Pekka Uronen back in 2009. They've now released some videos of the game as well as screenshots. A recent comment in Facebook revealed that the game is just around the corner and will be released soon.
I gathered a few figures from the web this week regarding Angry Birds and how it has been performing. Rovio, the Finnish gaming company does state sales and download figures every now and then, but more broader figures to understand the game appeal are hard to dig. Peter Vesterbacka, The Mighty Eagle, commented to a blog post on Friday and while doing so, gave out a few figures that are worth sharing.
Yesterday we covered Deal24, a company doing local discount coupon sales, similar to Groupon's concept, in the Nordics and Baltics. Unfortunately for us, this wasn't an Estonian company and certainly not the largest as our readers rightly commented both in Facebook and in the article comments. The real Groupon of Estonia is Cherry.ee which is the largest by both deals done and amount of business. This time we talked to the investors behind the company and there's some interesting data to back this up.
Finnish gaming industry is thriving with innovation. The latest newcomers are Tribe Studios with a game concept called Stagecraft, which will be specifically targeted for 30+ adults. The idea behind the game is that modern grown-ups like computer games but can no longer play them for hours on end every day. Thus, Tribe Studios are designing a game that can be learned and played within one evening. The action will be centered around a story-telling narrative and allow for simultanious multiplayers, which means that just like in boardgames using the same tools you'd create different games every time you play. Stagecraft creators also want gaming experience to reflect that of watching a movie but in a more interactive way. Thus, the graphics are promised to be staggerring and playing a game would cost you as much as renting a movie or watching one in the movie theaters - between 3-10€ at a time. The game is estimated to be launched around the summer 2011.
The Swedish originated video advertising platform Videoplaza is on fire to say the least. We heard news from the company yesterday and they're doing very well. Back in March we wrote about Videoplaza securing a 3.5 million euro financing round to further grow the company. The company has signed a lot of different broadcasters from Europe as its clients and also moved its headquarters to London.
Groupon has sparked up a lot of similar concepts, if not exactly the same, in many local markets as it has not been able to expand as fast as it should have to satisfy the market demand. In Estonia, Deal24 has taken advantage of this and has launched their own version with a similar concept. The service offers one deal a day and there are no limits to how many people have to purchase it for the offer to become valid.
Angry Birds phenomenon is through the roof again. Yesterday, Rovio released Angry Birds Seasons, which is the new and awaited Christmas edition of the game. It is also available as a free update for those players who bought the Angry Birds Halloween edition. The game is now available in the iTunes store as well as for the Android platform over here.
Start-ups often need to modify their product or change their direction. This September an Estonian start-up Inner Cirlce came out with a secure social network called Posterbee. They even raised an estimated 200 000€ for the project and launched private beta. Things did not go as planned and the company has recently announced a change of directions. From now on Posterbee v.2 will concentrate on helping groups share and discuss web and other content. The idea is that those links and files would be gathered and indexed in one place, making them easily searchable and relieving your inbox from all of that content. Posterbee is charmingly honest in their explanation for the change. In the announcement they admitted that most of the beta users turned out to be indifferent to the service and did not see Posterbee as much different from other solutions on the market. Great to see that the company took the feedback to heart and instead of fighting a loosing battle did a pivot.
CapMan, the private equity investor in the Nordics and Russia, has announced last month that they will "restructure their investment operations" which in essence means they will stop investing. To be more precise, they will focus on their current portfolio companies and not raise any new funds nor do any new investments in the future.
This is a problem that's very real for many companies: keeping your meeting notes in order. I keep them in various places and perhaps for that, they're never too easily to be found. Agrii is an Estonian startup that has developed a web service that helps you keep your meeting notes in order and structure them in a way that they're easy to come back to as well.
Daniil Harik and Kalmer Rautam are the co-founders behind the company. The need to create a solution like Agrii, came from personal needs. It's hard to keep everything in an organised fashion over a long period of time.
Via Venture Partners has announced (PDF) raising of a new fund. The fund is its second, amounting to 134 million euros. In addition to the VC's original fund founded in 2006, this makes Via Venture Partners one of the largest VCs in the Nordic region with a total of EUR 268 million of committed capital. The fund targets Nordic high growth potential ICT firms that have a global market opportunity.
Last week, Open Coffee Club Vilnius together with partnerships from Sunrise Valley and Knowledge Economy Forum, organised a hectic, but fruitful one day event to get startups together with the top mentors in the country. MentoringDay, pulled together some 12 startups and 50 mentors to speed up business development.