Planes full of eager entrepreneurs, investors, and tech enthusiasts touched down in Austin, Texas last week for the 21st annual SXSW Interactive Festival. Amid the endless networking events and boozy late-night parties, a strong showing of Nordic startups and government organizations participated in panels, pitch events, and trade show exhibitions.
The new Copenhagen-based Startup Bringrs receives initial funding from Jesper Søgaard and Christian Dam Rasmussen, the founders of bettercollective.com. The investment is said to be in the six-figured euro size.
Applifier CEO Jussi Laakkonen sounded a little groggy when he first answered the phone, but his mumbling turned into the fast, clear, and somewhat sarcastic sales pitch we've gotten to know him for by the end of the call. It was 6:00 AM in San Francisco, and the news just broke that his company, Applifier, had been acquired by Unity, the game engine. Laakkonen woke up about two minutes before we gave him a ring.
"Oh, you know, it's another step in the journey," mumbles Laakkonen at the beginning of the call.
Applifier's main product is Everyplay, a tool to allow players to record gameplay to share with friends on social media or Youtube. Everyplay goes deeper than a simple share button, however. The platform creates its own cross-game social network where you can see the videos your friends are sharing, or catch what the more popular videos from all games are.
Applifier and Unity apparently go back some time. In 2009 it wasn't really clear if Unity was going to make it or not as a game engine and Laakkonen did sort of an endorsement of Unity; a developer was talking about doing their own game engine, and Laakkonen told them, "don't do your own game engine, use Unity." Someone from Unity ended up hearing that and they ended up forging a relationship. Unity also happened to be the first to demo Everyplay.
To Laakkonen the acquisition makes sense. Developers have two life or death questions. "How do we create a game that's really good and cross platform [which is the problem unity solves]. The other question is how do you connect gamers and how do you help them discover. That's the problem we've been working on."
With a solid integration into Unity and with more resources to scale up the platform, we should see Everyplay integrated into more games.
"We don't fell like its a sale or anything. I see this as a merging teams." says Laakkonen. "Now we have 400 more colleagues to help grow."
Editor's note: This is a guest post by Tom Laine, CEO at Innopinion and Teemu Polo of Soljuva Technologies and Starttaamo
This is your guide to Oulu.
A major success story for Denmark started in 2001 when Danish food service website Just Eat launched for the first time. 5 years later they expanded to the UK and continued to add one country after another into their network. Today Just Eat operates in 13 countries worldwide and has 40,000 takeaway restaurants under their banner and they generate a revenue of £700 million yearly for the restaurant industry. They're huge.
But could it be that in all their expansionism and transformation into a mega sized firm they forgot top keep an eye on their own back yard?
Alright, welcome back to the jobs post. Your weekly roundup of all the latest open positions posted to Arctic Startup's Job Board. It's a busy week with a lot of new places spread out over Finland, Estonia, Denmark, and in the case of two companies, 'anywhere'.
Back when Myspace was the place to be for American teens, regional social networks sprung up all over Europe. One of the last to still keep a foothold against the rise of Facebook is Latvia's Draugiem, which in 2012 still had a larger market share than Facebook. More current numbers were tough to find, but clearly Facebook is the place to be for Baltic teens these days. In response, Draugiem group has pivoted some of its efforts into supporting new in-house startups. One of theses startups that's gaining good traction in the States is Printiful, which launched July of last year.
Strict workplace regulations are understandable when the nature of the data is rigorously confident, but actually prohibiting all cloud based applications seems a little harsh. That being said, California-based cloud notetaking tool Evernote's latest survey results are fairly surprising; according to their survey, every third Finn working in IT is not allowed to use any form of third party cloud services, such as Google Drive, Dropbox and Evernote
In the realm of freelancing it seems that paperwork and the legal gymnastics required to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s is one of the most painful and frustrating parts of the job. Arturs Kirtovskis and Karlis Bikis, two of the four man team from Latvia behind Officialize.It think they have come up with a way to simplify the process and take the pain and hassle out of forming a contract.
While Facebook didn't exactly "create" the term social media, it certainly did bring it to mass attention. Ever since its birth, the world wide web has emerged a broad variety of social media services specified for different target demographics. A few quick examples that pop into my mind would be LinkedIn for business networking, the hugely popular teen web site Habbo (which comes from Finland by the way) and image enthusiastic Pinterest.
Alumniplus will be jumping into the category of target group specific social networking sites, and as the name suggests, they're going after the university alumni all around the world.
Today the first meet up, the first town hall meeting, for the Copenhagen startups scene was held at Børsen in Denmark.
When you're young you trip and fall, it's not such a big deal. You simply get up with maybe a nasty bruise if you're unlucky, and move on with your life. For the elderly, this couldn't be any less true. A single tumble can be a matter of life and death.
Taking a look at the LifeLine Ventures portfolio companies, you can see Partner Timo Ahopelto knows Finland's startups. In the web sector they've invested in ThingLink, Playmysong, and IndoorAtlas. In Gaming, they've put money in Applifier, Uplause, Grand Cru, and Supercell, and in Health you've heard of Valkee, Mendor, and BetterDoctor.
Following the hype surrounding #STHLMtech, #CPHFTW, and #EstonianMafia, Oslo hopes to get its act together. After some prodding from the Sillicon Valley the networking lobbyist group for Nordic startups, Silicon Vikings, Startup Norway have taken it upon themselves to get people to vote on a hashtag for the Oslo startup community after deeming the catchall hashtag for Norway should be #Tech_NO.
Spending any time down in the startup scene in Riga, Latvia you're bound to hear people talking about TechHub Riga, the coworking space at the center of Riga's recent startup boom. Just last week, TechHub moved even closer to the center of Riga, quite literally, taking their location from a short walk outside the city center into right into the old town.
Ask.fm, the Latvian based social network that only let's you post when you are asked a question reached the 100 million users milestone last Monday. Since then, they have grown to 104 million users, as you can see on their page. They also announced that over 25 billion answers have been answers on the site to date, with over 1 billion being answered a month. That makes it one of the biggest social networks in the world, and they are just around the corner.
Many game developers and companies choose the safe route of releasing games which follow a well known pattern. Exceptional games, on the other hand, stand out because they break this cycle; They become widely popular thanks to unseen plots, game mechanisms and ways to win, with which they offer completely new angles from which to enjoy the gameplay.
One of my latest favorites in this category was The Last of Us by Naughty Dog, a console game tinted with dark realism which took the entire gaming community by surprise with its skillfully constructed script.
Being different can bring success, but there are no rules that says new games should always bring something new to the table.
This being said, I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to have more fresh approaches towards games but the issue seems to be both lack of inspiration and courage to try something new.
How to facilitate inspiration and who's to do it?
Helsinki-based AddSearch's thesis is that the standard Google-powered search for websites basically sucks. As they start adding more and more features to their product, you can see that no one really has looked at what features or material should be included in in-site search.
Should Spotify be a full-featured social platform or should it just be and API and library for others to develop off of?
Matti Lammisalo, unlike most Finns, hasn’t been flying to Spain on a regular basis only to participate in over-the-top partying. After many business trips, he recently moved to the Catalonian capital to open office for his company’s brand new Spanish branch, which aims to market and develop the Yossa nightlife app. Used by a growing thousands of Barcelonian clubbers and cocktail enthusiasts, the app’s launch in Spain this March was success story for a social Finnish app with now deals with 27 clients in Spain, including 20 big clubs.