Here's another nice acquisition of a Finnish game company. Yesterday Ubisoft anounced it had acquired RedLynx Games, creator of the the popular "Trials" game that blew up on Xbox Live. The game has now become one of the best-selling games ever on Xbox LIVE Arcade, with over two million paid downloads for the main game and its downloadable content.
I managed to grab Peter Vesterbacka for a few minutes at Slush today to talk about how Angry Birds sees the world after 500 million downloads. Basically, there's a lot more out there for them to grab than one would expect - simply looking at them what they've done so far. Everyone knows that the company is looking to grow into an entertainment empire, but in my opinion they're already there. They're not just as big yet, even though they are.
We got an exclusive tip from the Mighty Eagle himself, that Rovio will be announcing something new at this year's Slush. The tip held through, as Mikael Hed, the CEO of the company made the announcement on stage through a video; Angry Birds has now been downloaded more than 500 million times. That's one hell of a milestone.
Only a little over a year ago, the company announced that they will try to reach 100 million downloads in 12 months. How wrong they were (and how crazy we all thought they were).
Those are the strategic figures of the Finnish gaming industry at the moment. Last night, prime time news in Finland covered the gaming industry in proper spotlight and outlined a few key figures of the industry. This year, the gaming industry is expected to generate 165 million euros in revenue and in doing so they employ 1200 people. Despite this somewhat significant size of the industry for such a small country, it has yet to see any real public acknowledgement from media at large or politicians. The downside of all this is that there are very few schools who teach anything related to the games industry.
Who doesn’t have a secret crush once in a lifetime? Unfortunately, many have trouble expressing the emotions to their crush. The reason being nobody wants the crush to crash their reputation by becoming public. True that, I would rather keep affection for someone to myself than to say it out loud putting my reputation at stake. If there is a secret way to express this, who wouldn’t want to make use of it? Hiddenhint does exactly that.
Now there are a lot of other traditional methods, such as tossing a random note on a girl's desk, putting a nice card in her bag, etc but in the age of social media and apps, gadgets, etc it sounds too old school. Hiddenhint makes a note of this and adds a bit more modern and anonymous touch to it. But how exactly does it work?
Metro International, publisher of the free daily newspaper availible in over 100 cities across the world, has signed a co-operation deal with Scoopshot, a Helsinki-based news photo crowdsourcing service. This deal will allow readers to capture and sell their photos to Metro using Scoopshot's iPhone and Android apps. Scoopshot is owned by Helsink-based P2S Media Group.
The Helsinki Based seed accelerator, Startup Sauna, recently announced their Fall batch of startups. The 17 teams began working out of Otaniemi yesterday and will finish with a public demo day on December 15th. This year there are 8 Finnish teams, 5 Russian, 2 Polish, 1 Estonian, and one from Lithuania.
Getting your documents and proposals approved on time by all relevant stakeholders can be a tedious and nerve-wracking task. Easyprove, a Lithuania-based startup, is developing an online platform that could potentially make the process a whole lot smoother, efficient and carefree.
Mobile payments are hot right now, but many services are only offered for certain phones, or certain stores-- like Starbucks' mobile payment app. A Lithuanian startup has a new take on the concept to also reach users who don't have a smartphone. Mokipay uses a sticker with a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip that attaches to the back of a smart or dumb phone, which can be read by a Mokipay reader already present in about 2000 bars, restaurants, and retailers across Lithuania.
As a quick followup, The Switch, a windmill component engineering firm, is no longer being acquired by American Superconductor Corp. When the acquisition was announced last March we called The Switch "the next success story Finland has been waiting for," but yesterday The Switch shareholders and AMSC announced that they have agreed to terminate the acquisition agreement, due to adverse market conditions for the financing required to fund the acquisition. According to Bloomberg, AMSC has dropped 82 percent since April 5, when its largest customer, Chinese wind-turbine maker Sinovel Wind Group Co., refused to accept contracted shipments.
With the hype surrounding the new Nokia Windows phones, perhaps we will start to see more apps developed for the Windows Phone 7 marketplace. To get any traction, new and existing apps are going to need some healthy promotion to reach customers. The Lithuanian cross-promotion network, AdDuplex, seeks to help developers gain traction and monetize their apps through in-app advertisements.
In this day and age, what could be worse than making a phone call to arrange a taxi? It sounds too much of a hassle, and while it might be effective for many, the concept sounds too medieval. This is just my personal opinion, but gladly some firms are keen at bringing Cab facilitation online. The idea is to help ease the task for arranging taxis via one single destination. Yandex has started doing exactly that.
The Russian online giant is leveraging its popularity online in Russia to launch a Yandex Taxi Search Service. Yandex.Taxi sends request for booking a cab to all taxi services and accelerates the process of finding a cab for travellers. To start off, Yandex.Taxi has succeeded in partnering with 11 Taxi Service providers. Currently this service is just in beta and the operations are limited to Moscow alone.
Here's more of our keynote talks at Arctic15 earlier this autumn. Richard White gave one of the fastest, action filled talks I've ever heard. He talked through the story of his past startups, but also how came to found Uservoice.com. A nice coincidence was that Richard White and Steve Huffman both knew each other previously and thus he made quite a few references to Steve Huffman's Reddit along the way as well. More keynote videos and all the startup pitches coming up in the next few weeks.
Publishzer is a new content collection platform that allows anyone to view videos, tweets, photos, and blog articles in a tight, dynamic, magazine-like spread. When the service goes live, users will be able to create their own magazines or read others.
When using Publishzer, everything feels clean and easy to use. When creating your own online magazine, Publishzer designed a buttonless interface that is intuitive and autosaves what you type. And when reading a Publishzer, you can click on images to enlarge and re-arrange content. It makes it easy to look at photos in more detail, or find more content. To view what their service looks like, check out a sample based on our Arctic15 conference.
In our series with Microsoft - Hear it from the startups, we talk to Techila Technologies about their use of Microsoft Technology and business development in general. Rainer Wehkamp is the founder of Techila Technologies and in the interview below he explains what led him to start the company. Techila offers a cloud based solution to access high-performance computing for very specific use cases.
Yandex has had an eventful year: it rolled out a whole set of new features, invested into quite a few start-ups and enlisted on NASDAQ, raising almost $1.5 billion. Though after the initial hype of the IPO their shares were in decline. According to Q3 financial results released this week, the company is doing very well.
Their revenues jumped 65% from last year to $161.9 million and their net income grew a staggering 93% over the last 12 months reaching $53.5 million. However, their share of the Russian search market slightly dropped from almost 65% to 62.7%. Lost market share went to Google, who is trying to grow their market share in the region with the help of their browser, Chrome (popular especially among young people). Though, as Arkady Volozh, Yandex's founder and CEO retorted to Reuters: 'In the long run, clear market leadership is more important to financial performance than the magnitude of that lead which is likely to fluctuate over time'.
The digitalization of the publishing industry should make books easier for everyone to consume, but unfortunately ebooks are released into a world of fragmented platforms and formats. Publification, a new Estonian ebook publisher at the Springboard Accelerator, allows anyone with a browser to publish and read handsomely put together ebooks hosted on their HTML5 platform. Their browserbooks beta is set to be released sometime this fall.
Earlier this week at Nokia World, Nokia announced that it had partnered with Rovio and Angry Birds. In practice this means that all new Nokia Asha family phones will have Angry Birds pre-installed on it. A little earlier in the keynote, Stephen Elop announced that Nokia is making 14 phones each second. Think about it. It adds up to 1,2 million phones a day. Most of those phones aren't smart phones - they're phones being built for the emerging markets. Nokia Asha will be replacing the Series 40 phones and therefore, most of the phones Nokia makes - will come with Angry Birds pre-installed.
More Arctic15 keynotes coming up! This one's from Patric Blixt from Rebtel. Blixt is the Chief Marketing Officer at the VoIP operator that is surprisingly little hyped about, considering they're doing tens of millions of revenue only a few years after their founding. We had the honor to have Blixt share his thoughts on marketing and promoting startups in the early part of their growth phase. He talked a lot about the virality loops, which are a key component of Rebtel's success.
Information overload is a big problem online and there are many services that try to solve it: from good old RSS readers to various content discovery platforms like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon or Reddit to social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook. Two entrepreneurs from Lithuania, Daumantas Dvilinskas and Mindaugas Krisciunas, decided it's time to move content discovery from social to interest graph, making use of all the existing services. That is how Pinevio, a social content discovery platform, was founded a year ago.