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.
Yandex recently conducted a survey among the users of its mobile maps application. Turns out the majority of the people use the app for keeping track of traffic to avoid being stuck in traffic jams. Searching for addresses and places is only second on the list and most of those requests appear in the afternoon (between 13:00 and 16:00), which means most of the smartphone users live in populous cities and travel to unknown destinations for work or lunch. The report also gave an insight into the mobile platforms market in Russia. Nokia is the current market leader: Symbian phones are currently the most popular in the Russian market. However, their market share has shrunk by a staggering 12% last year. Apple is on the second position and during the past 12 months iPhone's marketshare has risen as much as Nokia's has fallen - by 12%. Finally, Android's popularity is growing even faster than iOS' - it grew by 14% in 2010.
While we've cut down on the cleantech reporting, this one's a winner that deserves to be written about: American Superconductor has acquired The Switch Engineering for 190 million euros. We've previously written about The Switch as being one of the most potential cleantech companies coming out from Finland. They create generator and converter packages for the wind energy industry. Back in April 2010 we wrote that Switch is the next success story Finland has been looking for - it seems we were quite right with that statement.
Leiki has announced it has entered into a partnership with Helsingin Sanomat (the largest daily newspaper in Finland) to personalise articles on the front page of its digital version. The digital version is the premium, paid version of the newspaper, that can be found online.
Playmysong is a Helsinki, Finland based startup making every mobile phone a control device for the digital jukebox in a restaurant. Last week the company announced that Overlook NYC bar near Grand Central terminal in New York has become the first venue in the United States to start using Playmysong. The company is tapping into the 160 million Apple mobile device market with their iPhone app. The basic service is free, but for a premium fee of $399 venues can get premium benefits as mood styled playlists and autoplay features.
Finland will have its parliamentary elections this spring, and Estonia just had theirs. I've come across quite a few candidates and politicians who don't fully understand the importance of early stage investments, call it angel investing or whatever you will, for the startup ecosystem and the economy itself. Some go even as far as stating, why should we give benefits to a certain group of business people and not everyone else? I've thought about this for a long time and I believe I've come across the most simple way to put the message across in a way that politicians would understand and respect the importance of it.
Rebtel continues to grow by leaps and bounds and set to continue with the same as per its recent growth. The company announced that it has crossed the 10 million users globally, continuing with its high riding performance lately. As per the current statistics Rebtel is growing almost five times faster than Skype the leading VoIP service provider. Rebtel has increased its revenue by over 120%, exceeding beyond $40 Million in 2010 and given how it has grown, Rebtel is in line to double the same and push the revenue to $75 Million by the end of the current year.
As a blogger, I have to give kudos to Jyri Engeström for the way he launched Ditto. You see, as a blogger we're contacted by many companies on their product launches and other activities. Some e-mail you once and almost call you back to ask why you haven't written about their company. Then there are people like Jyri who work to build up the relationship and explain in detail what the thinking behind the service is - over the period of couple of months before the launch. I had a chat with Jyri about the things that took place behind the scenes and how the run up to the launch went. This is one of the best company launches and I think it's worthwhile sharing with others.
In the previous post we introduced the latter half of the top ten Runet's movers and shakers. Now is the time to talk about the top five. But first a few words about the rest of the high-flyers on the Forbes top 30. The types of companies top executes belonged to varied: from social networks, game-developers and e-commerce sites to recruitment website HeadHunter (owns up to 50% of marketshare and earned $1.7 in first half of last year) and antivirus software Kaspersky Labs (4th largest in the world with income of over $500M last year alone). Founders of internationally known services like Evernote (Stepan Pachikov) and Chatroulette (Andrey Ternovsky) were placed 13th and 15th respectively. Evernote attracted $20M from Sequoia Capital in 2010 and Chatroulette was one of the most talked-about services that year.
TechCrunch just released the story that creators of Angry Birds, Rovio, has raised an astonishing $42 million round in funding. The funding has been raised from Accel Partners, Atomico Ventures as well as Felicis Ventures. The round was co-led by Accel Partners as well as Atomico Ventures. Niklas Zennström, the co-founder of Skype will be joining Rovio's board.
Bob Helsinki, a Helsinki based advertising agency, has disclosed some interesting figures regarding Valkee in their application to Grand One, a Helsinki based annual gala for ad agencies. In the application, the agency states, that Valkee sold 691 devices during the two month campaign period from October 11th to December 12th last year. 691 devices at 185€ a piece yields a nice 127 835 euros. However, the agency later discloses that they sold a lot more by early January.
Denmark based 23Video that helps users build full featured video sites has making a lift. 23Video has announced the coming of the Lift Release. The update will help users with more advanced options to make video sites a better and more efficient. The Lift Release brings quite a lot of features making the service a lot more usable for companies requiring video sites.
Forbes.ru has recently published a list of 30 most notable web players in Russia. Judging by the results, the most influential people in Runet have been in the business for decades. There are some young talents there too, though very few. Internet market is clearly dominated by local businesses: the only person working in a foreign company, placed 25th, was Vladimir Dolgov, the head of Google Russia. One-quarter of all the people on the list belonged to Mail.ru Group, clearly the most prominent player of all. Investors ranked much higher than founders of recent services and unsurprisingly the list included only two women. In the first part of presenting the list, we looked at the latter half of the top 10 movers and shakers of Runet.
We've just opened registrations for Arctic15, both the startup competition as well as the tickets. While doing so, we've also announced our first speakers to the event. We'll be constantly updating the site during the run up to the event, so there are bound to me continuous announcements of new speakers and partners. We're very excited to be working on this and hope you will enjoy attending it!
Startupbootcamp is expanding in all directions, the camp announced expanding to Madrid back in January and plans on adding London and Berlin to its list by 2012. This week the bootcamp announced it will add Dublin to its network, making it the third city in the list. The concept has initiated from Denmark and is also listed as a global affiliate for the Techstars program.
Aalto Venture Garage is launching Startup Sauna, which includes a month long tour around the Baltic rim to promote a new kind of startup acceleration program called Startup Sauna. Startup Sauna is direct continuum to the Summer of Startups program as well as the Bootcamp initiatives the venue organised last year. The program has been put in place to help pre-seed startups succeed through better mentorship of serial entrepreneurs as well as investors. What's best, it's open to all startups from the region.
Microsoft has partnered with Rovio's Angry Birds to promote their search engine Bing. The promotion is done in a four part mini video series. It features characters from the popular game taking advantage of Bing to steal some eggs. Just on Monday we reported that Angry Birds is easily doing over $50 million in revenues this year and further distributing the sources of revenue over deals like this with Microsoft easily increases the overall return on the game.
If you can pay your bills via mobile phones why not stamps? Looks as if this is going to see implementation both in Denmark and in Sweden, beginning with Denmark in April.
The system would work by letting users pay for the postage via a text message using their mobile phones instead of stamps. With the message sent and payment made, users receive a code that they can write on the letter or the envelope, which then serves as a proof that the payment has been made. While this is coming to Denmark in April, Anders Åsberg, heard of marketing and development with Swedish postal service stated for TheLocal.se that Sweden isn’t seeing this any time before the summers.