Facebook's grip on Europe is by far not complete. According to the recent analysis from Casual Games Association presented by i-Jet Media (the biggest game publisher in Russia and Eastern Europe), Europeans still prefer local social networks to Facebook. In Poland Nasza Klasa has 8 million users more than Facebook, in Germany VZ has 6 million more and Russia's Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki together have a mighty 104 million users compared with 1,6 million Russians who've joined Facebook. Thus, Europe's 30 social networks altogether boast 180+ million users, which is 24 million more than Facebook has in Europe.
Russia has come a long way in the recent years in terms of establishing itself as an internet superpower. However, it has done it at such a speed that many parts of its legislation have not been up to date, regarding online payments for example. Yesterday, the Russian government approved a bill to clarify and regulate e-payments. The bill has been much awaited, according to Moscow Times, and online payments are expected to increase by 400 million euro this year.
Digital Sky Technologies, a Russian holding company that owns shares in various web properties, is looking at Twitter with a possible investment in mind, according to SFGate. Digital Sky Technologies, or DST, previously spun off Mail.ru from it's holdings into a company of its own and sold 17% of the company at a valuation well above 5 billion USD.
Last spring we wrote about SongHi Entertainment and their launch of a closed beta product that helped easily create music with virtual instruments in a collaborative environment. Six months later, SongHi is a social music service that allows anyone to start playing and sharing their own music with a game-like interface in the browser. SongHi is live in the Nordics and Baltics, has partnership deals with Sony Music Finland and Universal. Also, it already started generating its first modest revenue this October. The point of the game is to create your own music and become famous among other users. SongHi's artificial intelligence is used to make sense of the amateur's music, making any mediocre player sound great. If you've been an active user, the game rewards you with stars to up your rankings, but you'd need to buy SongHi coins to purchase virtual items like intruments or fancy decorations for your virtual studio. You can't buy your way into fame but you can make it substantially easier by being a good consumer!
A new Finnish iPhone game called Shadow Cities developed by Grey Area launched today with a whopping success. The game was available in the Finnish App Store in the morning and by 1.30pm, it was already the third most grossing app in terms of sales. Mind you, the app is free itself. Later last night the game was already the most grossing app in the App Store. The last time it happened, the game in question was Angry Birds.
The Finnish restaurant site Eat.fi has partnered with Offerium, a Finnish Groupon-kind flash sales site, to offer diners cheaper meals. People looking for places to go out for dinner/lunch on Eat.fi will be now able to spot those restaurants with offers with a little "deal"-icon next to their name. I haven't bought yet anything on Offerium, but putting the restaurant deals into a need based context fits in perfectly and I'm guessing will result in more people finding Offerium as well.
A Pan European private equity firm IK Investment Partners has agreed to acquire EPiServer Group shares from Amadeus Capital, Martin Bjäringer, Monterro Holdings, Northzone Ventures, Michael Runhem and families as well as employees. EPiServer is a growing Sweden based CMS provider with revenues in 2009 around 192M SEK (20,6M EUR). According to Swedish authorities, the company made 24M SEK (2,6M EUR) profit in 2009.
Flowdock, which claims to be the best team messenger out there, has gone into production and paid mode as of this morning. We covered Flowdock back in October 2009 when they were just coming out with their product. They've come a long way since and it makes for an interesting story to cover, especially from a go-to-market point of view. I had a brief chat with Otto Hilska, one of the founders and CTO of Flowdock. During the last year, more or less the whole time of their beta program, they have managed to gather interest from 6000 teams who have used their product.
Writing this directly from back seats of the Kasvufoorumi event organised by the Finnish Software Entrepreneurs Association while it's still going. While there are a lot of traditional presentations from companies and organisations involved in this ecosystem, there was also a presentation by Pasi Sorvisto, Juha Ruohonen and Pekka Roine that really caught my eye.
The study titled The Value Creation For The Research-Based Ideas revealed very interesting numbers and the honest true state of the Finnish so called "innovation system". Based on the executive summary of the presentation it has managed to coin the state of our innovation ecosystem the best I've seen so far.
If you are a tech geek with an idea for a B2C web service living somewhere in Finland, there are few funding options at your disposal. Most probably you'd apply for public funding from Tekes, but that needs to be supported with additional private funds. You might take a loan or raise capital from other sources or, like most tech geeks currently, you'd raise the money by subcontracting or free-lancing. However, there is a new pre-seed funding that has recently come to Finland - HackFwd. The fund was started by tech geeks for tech geeks. The term 'geek' is used in this context very proudly because it portrays how passionate the people in question are about hacking and programming.
On December 2nd, we'll be organising an ArcticEvening in Tampere to get all the entrepreneurially minded people together to talk about angel investing. We'll be putting together a show where we'll have startups pitch (3 startups) at the event and also have a few angel investors at the venue to give quick feedback. We'll also have a panel discussion with the angels to talk about the activity of angel investing in Finland. In this post, you'll be able to register for the event free of charge and also submit your application to the pitching part. We'll be choosing 3 companies from the pool of applicants later on.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Kristoffer Lawson, the Travelling Salesman. He's on a 10 000 kilometre drive to meet Nordic startups. ArcticStartup is supporting the project, by covering his travels and findings.
With another week on the road, I have to say that the exhaustion is slightly getting the better of me. While it has been a joy to visit this beautiful country, so many things have also gone wrong, from missed meetups to losing a fuel cap, that the stress is beginning to show. Oslo thankfully gave me a chance to recuperate a bit, for a couple of nights, but it also added stress of its own, as I will mention a bit later.
Editor's Note: The guest blog is by Oscar Santolalla Obenhausen. Oscar holds M.Sc in Computer Science at the Helsinki University of Technology, with the specialization in Mobile Computing and Security and currently works for Tuxera.
Music CDs are becoming obsolete in digital music’s favor (especially MP3 files). Today it is very easy to find free streaming, to buy lots of music for a comparatively small price (Spotify, Nokia comes with Music), or to pay only ten Euros per album (iTunes store, Amazon.com). Music seems to inevitably become free, or nearly free. What’s more, online music sites are full of integration capabilities with social media. This creates a delightful environment millions of listeners.
Last night's ArcticEvening was definitely one of the best we've managed to organise. I think we managed to nail a couple of things right; fantastic speakers and a great atmosphere among the crowd. The evening started off with sponsor messages from Culminatum, Microsoft and Veraventure. Microsoft is basically looking for 5 companies that leverage the cloud that they could help promote and take global. Veraventure disclosed in the evening that they will be making 24 early stage investments in Finland next year if they find good deal flow - another fantastic opportunity right there. The event was the official after party of the IBP Camp Helsinki, and you can read the transcript of the live blogging that took place in our previous post.
We'll be testing something new today as we'll be live blogging the IBP Camp Helsinki from Korjaamo. The event will feature really interesting speakers such as Andreas Ehn and Timo Soininen. IBP Camp Helsinki's official after party, ArcticEvening Helsinki will take place starting at 6pm. We won't be able to live blog that, but this is something we'll test for the future too. Do take part in the conversation and let us know if you'd like to ask us any questions from the speakers.
Russian internet market is scarcely covered outside of the country but it's not for the lack of news. The main obstacle is language: most online services are oriented towards domestic market and are hence mostly in Russian. Another thing is innovation: there are few companies (if any) that have come out of Russia with truly ground-breaking ideas - most of the services are copies of similar American websites. Nevertheless, the number of internet users is growing together with the size of their pockets. Hence, a number of companies managed to build impressive userbases, make big bucks and dodge the competition from abroad.
According to the latest numbers released by TNS Russia and comScore, the top websites are:
Lots of activity taking place today. A few weeks ago 10 startups with the help of Aalto Venture Garage flew to Silicon Valley to network and raise awareness of the Nordic and Baltic startup ecosystem. That trip already bears fruit in the form of Robert Scoble interviewing some of the startups and the purpose of their trip.
Nokia just announced on their Conversations blog, that Wordpress app for Symbian^3 is now available in the Ovi Store. The app has been written by both Nokia and Wordpress developers using Qt. Nokia has had some Wordpress apps available before, but now they've come out with a Qt version that can be used on newer phone models leveraging the platform and according to the project head Anssi Mäkelä, it is blazing fast.
Anssi Mäkelä stated, “First we made a clear decision to cover most of the current and upcoming platforms, so it was pretty obvious that to meet this demand Qt was the only way to go. This app is extraordinary when it comes to performance, especially on latest Symbian^3 devices its unbelievably fast and responsive to your commands.”
One more night! ArcticEvening Helsinki will take place tomorrow, starting at 6pm (Korjaamo, Töölönkatu 51). The event is sold out, but we wanted to let all the people coming know that we're having a surprise guest speak in the event. We won't disclose anything yet, but this is world class stuff! And this is on top of our fabulous speakers already, that we've managed to get for you - Ulla-Maaria Engeström of Thinglink and Jussi Laakkonen of Applifier.
Ever had that problem where someone calls you and you don't know who it is? Check. Ever had that problem when someone calls you from overseas and you don't know who it is? Check. If so, you should definitely give TrueCaller a try. It's a nifty little app created by Alan Mamedi and Nami Zarringhalam, two Swedes who also are the founders of TrueCaller, a Swedish startup.
The idea for TrueCaller came more or less to Mamedi and Zarringhalam through the above mentioned thinking. They knew there were some international players in the market that offered a service like this, however they nevertheless decided to go on with their idea.