24MAS that specializes in mobile advertising and hosted applications is all set to step in the mobile gaming arena. The Swedish firm has acquired Game publisher, THQ’s Wireless gaming division. Let me get a grip here, advertising, app marketing/distribution and gaming all coming together, sounds quite the right stitch for success.
I might sound a bit too judgmental and far fetched when it comes to putting Sofanatics as being one of the most interesting startups from Finland. Primarily because it brings all football fanatics onto one platform that has the potential to be the buzzing stadium within a browser. Do I make sense?
Microtask has launched a new service called Digitalkoot (digital communal work/barn-raising - very loosely translated) to help digitize the Finnish National Library content. We wrote about the plans to do so already in October. There are currently four million pages of digital content from 1700 to 1900 in the form of magazines and newspapers in the Finnish National Library. More and more content is continuously digitized from the archives as well. Previously used way to go about this would have been to use OCR software. However, the old language has characters that current OCR software is unable to recognize. According Kai Ekholm from the National Library, 2% of the currently digitized text has errors in it. Microtask's crowdsourcing service helps correct these errors and make the archives more accurate.
Russian tourists are known around the world for many things, some of them quite embarrassing. Despite their many shortcomings Russian tourists are also a gold mine for the hospitality industry: they travel a lot and they like spending huge amounts of cash while at it. A new Russian start-up Hipclub.ru, backed by Skype's former CEO Michael van Swaaij and founder of eDreams Javier Pérez-Tenessa, launched an invitation-only travel club that offers exclusive short-term discounts on hotels and travel destinations, reports Quintura. No details of the investment have been disclosed. The service is a new project from the team behind Hipway.ru - a search portal for exotic travel tours. That project was founded in 2009 and received over $500 000 investment from European and American investors. Founders behind both of the projects offered interesting insight into the Russian VC market on their blog [in Russian].
Freespee, a Sweden based cloud communication startup with a focus on Pay per Call solutions and call tracking launched a revamped website a short while back. The startup has been around since 2008 and it has been growing ever since. I thought about going over a few statistics and they were quite impressive.
Mobile Joomla is a simple, but useful add-on to Joomla. The extension does one thing, but does it well - it creates a mobile version of your Joomla site. Joomla is a popular content management system (CMS) that powers currently 2.7% of all websites globally. Mobile Joomla is an addition to the original CMS that renders your website readable for the mobile browsers out there. The app is developed by Kuneri and full disclosure; ArcticStartup's co-founder Miikka Kukkosuo helps with the business development aspects. Mobile Joomla was released into invitation only alpha in early 2010, and during the year they have made mobile versions over 2.6M individual pages. Over 40,000 users use Mobile Joomla currently.
Last week we covered how Finnish tax payers were forced to give publicly listed companies more than 40 million euros through Tekes. The argument from Tekes' side is that these larger companies are important drivers of innovation and projects. The President of Tekes Veli-Pekka Saarnivaara has stated that this year, growth companies were the focus of their financing. In 2010 Tekes approved more than 100 million euros in funding for younger companies, less than 6 years old. This is exactly the direction we should see the financing go - or even better, tie it completely to private funding.
Venture Cup Idea Competition in Denmark is an annual business idea competition that takes place at the end of the calendar year. The winners are chosen early next year in five categories: applied technology, cleantech, lifesciences, services and software. The winner in each category receives 25 000 DKK (roughly 3,300€) to kick-start their project. Essentially, the competition is an instrument to reveal the most promising business ideas in the various sectors and help them take the first steps in realizing them. We looked at the technology companies that made it to the final to discover the new innovation coming from Denmark in 2011.
Web of Trust or WOT, the safe surfing software that protects surfers from malicious links, spyware and spam is growing bigger by the day. WOT achieved another milestone on 28th January, 2011 when it announced the registration of its 2 millionth users. Web of Trust had only recently released the WOT plugin for WordPress.
Big day yesterday for Applifier as the cross promotion bar on the popular social network, Facebook closed $2 Million in seed funding and announced its expansion into web based gaming as well. We reported just a couple of weeks back of its plans for expanding into the Silicon Valley, speculating what news it might have for us by spring. All those news are important, but there's another worthwhile mention; the addition of the retargeting to Applifier's cross promotion bar.
BrightArch is a Norwegian based software company that developed a service called OrganizationWeaver. The service is used in large corporations during restructures/staffing changes and an aide to change management. Basically what that means is that large corporations can use the software to help them guide through large mergers or downsizings of companies where you can't simply continue working as previously when the staff is cut in half or doubled. Until now, the company has been financed by the founders. Kima Ventures led the round and was completed by BrightArch's new board of directors. They consist of Scandinavian and UK business executives.
Starduck Studios is a Finnish startup developing Intoloop Kids, a service that enables parents to share their children's memories easily and securely. The three founding members, Henri Liljeroos, Pekka Mattila and Petri Hiissa love Macs, believe in paleotholitc diet and swear by pomodoro method.
Rdio, an on-demand music streaming service from the Skype founders, took one more important step in the race for the hearts, minds and wallets of music-lovers. We wrote previously about the impressive team behind the start-up and their close ties to the four major music labels. On top of that influential human capital, this week Rdio added some monetary capital to advance their business - they closed a $17.5M funding round from new and existing investors. The money will go towards spreading the service to new platforms and new regions as well as for further R&D. How significant is this investment for the company and its competitors?
Last week we broke the news that Sanoma had acquired the Finnish based coupon site Offerium. We promised to dig a little deeper into this and see what the motives and actual tricks of trade behind the deal were. Oskari Lehtonen was one of the co-founders of the company and we turned to him with a few questions about the acquisition itself.
Online shopping is not exactly a very new idea but it is definitely one of those areas that has seen quite a lot of innovation and implementation of newer ideas over time. It started with services like Amazon, eBay, Craigslists, etc and has continued to expand with newer services. Leveraging the same idea Shooples has made it out as the latest startup from Denmark as an online webstore provider.
Who doesn’t want to be a part of a big brand, that is revolutionary, transforming a certain aspect of your life and connects you to millions of users anywhere across the globe? Everyone does, and Skype is definitely one of those brands. Over a 100 million active users, utilizing the communication tool for personal and professional use. And guess what Skype is adding more opportunities for passionate people to be a part of it.
The Mobile World Congress 2011 in February is a definite event to keep an eye on, especially when there is some interesting news associated to the Android based smartphones. There is definitely the same level excitement for quite some innovation in the mobile category but Rightware has plans to make display on Android phones, visually more pleasing.
If you have ever ordered something online or had to send a package, you know how time-consuming a trip to a post office is. Restricted working hours, queues and loads of hassle. An Estonian start-up Cleveron (former SmartPost) set out to change that by launching a network of automated parcel terminals all across Estonia. The terminals consist of a series of lockers: when you receive a parcel you get a text message with the location of the terminal and a unique code to access the locker. Since terminals are often located in shopping centres with long opening hours, you are free to pick up your package at any suitable time. The system works in a similar way if you want to send a package. Cleveron has been operating in Estonia since 2009 but last year the network with it's brand name SmartPost was sold to Finnish Post (Itella Corporation). Cleveron's team kept all the know-how and are expanding their services to Russia, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Twingly, the Swedish startup which started off as Technorati for the European market has been quite a regular mention at Arctic Startup. It is in news once again as Twingly shifts gears towards group communication and microblogging. The shift changes quite a bit compared to what it had been doing earlier; social aggregation.
The news broke out today that Applifier has closed $2M in seed funding. The investors include MHS Capital, PROfounders Capital, Tekes, Lifeline Ventures, and angel investors Jyri Engeström, David Gardner and Lars Stenfeldt Hansen. The terms of the investment were not disclosed. Applifier is also announcing today that they have expanded their ad network into the web gaming space - where pain points are similar to that of Facebook; the market is fragmented, user acquisition costs are high and its becoming expensive to get users. We talked to Jussi Laakkonen about the expansion and they see huge opportunities in the space.