Helsinki-based Web Of Trust noted on their blog yesterday that Google has changed its policy to disallow WOT and other website reputation services from showing reputations of the sponsored links shown before the search results. As lauded in this blogpost on the official Google blog, Google took down or disallowed 130 million malicious ads on their network in 2011 -- a 50% increase from the year before.
This is fantastic, but malicious ads do continue to slip through the cracks. In January of this year the BBC reported on Google profiting from ads sponsored by illegal Olympic ticket resellers, as well as illegal services such as fake ID cards, fake passports, and cannabis.
Something doesn't sit well with Google's policy change to control what external browser plugins can do with their search results. Google clearly decided that the marginal decrease in user safety was worth the money they could bring in from clicks to websites with a poor reputation on Web Of Trust and other website rating services. How does this fall in line with their "Don't be evil" mantra?
Ditto has just announced that it has been acquired by Groupon. While being registered into the US, Ditto has been founded by Jyri Engeström the co-founder of Jaiku. Jaiku was a Finnish company that was sold to Google in 2007. There is no announcement on the price of the acquisition, but by all factors it looks like an acquihire. In other words, Groupon is acquiring the team behind Ditto. Nevertheless, an exit is always an exit.
According to the blog post, Ditto will be pulling the plug on their applications on April 30th. The Ditto mobile application was available to users on the Nokia and Apple platforms. The service allowed people to tell before hand what they were going to do, as to allow for more spontaneous meet-ups. In addition to this, you were able to leave out the specific place you were going to, which allowed for crowdsourcing of ideas from your friends.
It what seems like a natural move for today's increasingly digital media, Helsinki-based Scoopshot has launched video support to its news photo crowdsourcing service. The app allows journalists to send alerts to smartphone users, who can arrive at a scene more quickly and cheaply than sending a professional photographer.
Users take photos and upload them through the app, and if their picture is selected they receive money through whoever requested the photos. The service is also designed for users to quickly pull up the app if they witness something newsworthy, so they can then sell the photo or video rights online. €172 000 has been transferred to amateur photographers though the site, with the leader earning over €11 000. A scoopshot user recently bought a car with his earnings, which he said he will help him get around to take more pictures.
Fruugo was one of the most talked about companies in the Finnish startup scene, perhaps due to the fact that the company was able to attract the top executives of the Finnish business world. In the early days, the most well known people on board were Jorma Ollila (the former CEO and Chairman of Nokia), Risto Siilasmaa (Chairman, Founder and former CEO of F-Secure and current Chairman of Nokia) as well as Marko Parkkinen (co-founder of Bob Helsinki and a board member of various Finnish companies), among others. The company has also gained some infamy in Finland due to the millions of euros it burned through in anticipation of their global, multi-retailer online store.
Fruugo has tried to innovate in the space of e-commerce through a multi-retailer site where consumers would be able buy goods from numerous stores on one site and pay in their own, local currency through one check out. The company was started in 2006 by Nils Forsblom, now currently running TenFarms.
Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise since they're working in the music industry, but Spotify is having a tougher time than expected monetizing its users. The number of paid users has been smaller than predicted, but currently Spotify is focused on growth and on making their program indispensable in users' lives. Spotify claims they are making money on each new user they get, whether they're free or paying, making all growth positive for them. In total, the company is shooting for around €690 million in turnover this year.
Still, country by country growth is expensive for them due to the licensing fees individual to each country. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company has paid around €200 million to labels and publishers since the service was launched in 2008.
ThirdPresence, a cloud-based mobile video platform, announced on Friday it has raised $800 000 (€614 000) in seed funding. The investment round was led by Jussi Heinila, a co-founder of Accelerando. Fellow angel investors include Matti Suokko, former Microsoft executive, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, former Nokia CEO, Ari Korhonen, Riku Asikainen, and Jussi Ilmarinen.
The Helsinki-based company provides a complete whitelabel solution for mobile video hosting, delivery, monetization and analytics. The service allows users to publish their video or audio content on mobile websites or within any native application. ThirdPresence also supports live audio or video streaming along with standard video on demand playback.
This week we have lots of events to promote, happening from Tallinn to Oslo. Take a quick scan through of those happenings, as well as news, jobs, internships, and betas here in the Friday wrap-up.
A newly launched Estonian startup seeks to provide a safe home for your bragging -- for professional networking purposes. For freelancers, contractors, and entrepreneurs it makes sense. Rather than a stuffy CV line that says, "Grew a multimedia business to thousands of customers," you can instead chart out the steps along the way, such as raising capital, bragging about influxes of users, learning new skills, and so on. Achoo saves these updates from getting lost in your Twitter of Facebook. And it cuts to the core of what LinkedIn provides -- a platform to show off your accomplishments -- but for the industries where you don't need such a contrived and professional front.
BIMobject may be operating in a small niche, but now they've become the intersection between architects and manufacturers at the early concept stage. BIM stands for building information modeling, and is now the standard way for architects to virtually represent their drawings.
Architects are good at putting the walls up and creating functional living spaces but their models would be empty without furniture, fixtures, and all the little things that can wow a client. This is where BIMobject comes in. They've created a platform where manufacturers can upload virtual representations of their products, which architects can select to use in their modeling.
In our thirteenth show we talk to Carl Waldekranz, the CEO and co-founder of Tictail. Tictail positions themselves as the easiest, prettiest and most social way to sell stuff online. In the show we talk to Carl about what led them to start Tictail and how they actually went about building the team. There are a lot of great small stories there, we strongly suggest you listen to them. In addition, the company has also worked with Spotify and Wrapp, designing their typeface for both of the companies.
We'd also like to thank our sponsor for this week - Kisko Labs, for supporting the show. Kisko Labs makes people happy by solving their problems with digital services. They've got a neat offering called Kisko Kickstart that will develop an idea into a minimum viable product in five weeks. This helps companies understand how the idea would work in a business environment.
Most of the news we read these days are about the things that go wrong in our societies. We at ArcticStartup have always wanted to take a more positive approach to entrepreneurship by covering startups and events in a more positive, yet critical light. This post is all about happiness and Caine's Arcade.
Last year, a 9-year old boy built a cardboard arcade in his father's Auto Parts store and wanted to run it as a business. Despite all of his efforts (and my god, the ingeniouity put into those machines!) he didn't see a lot of customers. And then, the internet happened. Word about his arcade was spread around and soon enough a flashmob was organised to get people to his arcade.
The video below is this story. It will make you smile and have hope for humanity. It's 10 minutes long, but very much worth your time.
Issuu has integrated a Peecho Cloud Print button into their service, allowing the more than 2 million digital publishers on Issuu to have the opportunity to get their hands on a few copies of their publications. Peecho specializes in the "long tail" of publishing, printing low runs of magazines, glossy paperbacks, and hardcover books. All print jobs through Peecho are printed on demand regardless of the size or number of pages.
Peecho works with a number of production facilities around the world, and with Issuu it will automatically calculate the lowest price for a printed version, and displays price comparisons. Discounts kick in when more than 10 copies are printed.
A little over two and a half years ago, Finland saw a rise to a new kind of an accelerator program that would help early stage companies get further, faster. Back when it was first announced, the program was initially planned to be six years in length to be run in two three year cycles. Few of the goals set back then include raising €200 million in funding to the portfolio companies.
Today, the program announced five new accelerators as well as results from the first 32 months in existence. The program is a Finnish government supported initiative.
In addition to the five new accelerators, four accelerators remain from the original six. Back in July 2009, the program started with just three accelerators. The accelerators left are Cleantech Invest, KoppiCatch, Lifeline Ventures as well as Veturi Venture Accelerator.
Fast Lane Ventures and Bonial International have together launched Lokata, a Russian app that provides customers a way to search for deals and information on stores and restaurants based on their location. The app is released on iPhone, iPad, and Android, and is nearly a straight port of KaufDA.de, a service run in Germany also by Bonial International.
Lokata allows customers to find stores nearby, filter by products or brands, and provides alerts whenever their favorite products are promoted. The app also makes it easy to find stores' opening hours and contact information. But before you trek over to the store, you can also use the app to check out the store's catalog to find if they have what you're looking for. In Moscow they already have 531 retailers and restaurants indexed.
We've received word that Podio out of Denmark has been acquired by Citrix, a U.S. publicly listed provider of mobile and cloud services. The details of the acquisition were not disclosed, but Citrx's annual revenue in 2011 was $2.21 billion, and claims its products are interacted with by 75 percent of internet users every day. Sunstone Capital is Podio's largest shareholder and only institutional investor.
Podio has created a collaborative work platform -- somewhat like Yammer but with apps. Podio enables small and medium-sized businesses and teams within larger organizations to manage all types of business processes and associated workflows using pre-assembled apps from Podio’s free app market.
Forget linking to some low fidelity Youtube video next time you want to share a music track on your blog. Spotify has now launched a Spotify Play Button widget generator that can get visitors to your blog or website jamming to your tunes of choice with just one click of a button. Currently the widget offers a pretty simple integration -- no live following of a user's playlists or anything, but it should be enough to spice up music blogs with it's easy playback and nice big cover images.
You may have caught our past stories on Ovelin, the makes of Wildchords. The hot Finnish startup grabbed €1.1 million in financing from True Ventures last February, and their guitar teaching app has gotten critical acclaim the world over.
Currently Ovelin is hiring senior game developers, coders, game designers, and is growing the company further. At the moment the company is generally looking at new platforms and new instruments, and will be releasing some new packages soon that contain well known songs, but only from the public domain. Mikko Kaipainen, co-founder of Ovelin, wasn't willing to share anything else about licensing or future plans. But last week the company threw a party in Helsinki with the IGDA to promote their game and celebrate their successful €1.1 million funding round.
Put simply, Snipplist lets you snip "snippets" of text from anywhere on the web and share them with your friends. You wouldn't be too far off if you called it a Pinterest for text, and co-founder Kai Lemmentty says the service was created because it's still hard to share small amounts of information, even with Twitter and Facebook as the sharing platforms of today. In essence, Snipplist is searching to become the home of that 1-3 lines of an article or that killer quote that's too long for a Tweet.
We've covered Pipedrive a few times in the past, and even pay for our own license for sales use in the office. Overall it's a nice sales CRM service that helps users keep all their leads and sales ideas in place by giving a good overview of the big picture. At the core of the product is their sales pipeline that offers different steps where deals can reside as you move them forward towards closing. Over this past weekend Pipedrive has announced they hit their 1000th paying customer.
Over Easter in its opening weekend, the Finnish indie movie, Iron Sky, clocked in over €2.3 million in admissions worldwide. The film was released in theaters in Finland, Norway, and Germany to rave reviews from parody historical sci-fi fans. Iron Sky has followed a new model of film fundraising, where it has crowdfunded roughly 10% of its €7.6 million cost by selling merchandise and "war bonds" to fans intrigued by its concept. So far the movie has gathered a 7.8 rating on IMDB.