Antti Öhrling, the co-founder and inventor behind the idea of Blyk, announced he will be leaving the company to explore new opportunities. Blyk, the youth engagement media company, was founded in 2006 and has grown rapidly in Europe, India, and Southeast Asia
On his blog, Öhrling hints at the social media and mobile sector:
I managed to grab 20 minutes of Mikkel Svane's time in LeWeb to interview him on the evolution of Zendesk and some of the thinking they had behind building a world class company in just a few years. Zendesk isn't just your usual startup, if there really even is one. Zendesk very early decided to move its headquarters to the States after raising their second round in 2008. The company focuses in providing the very best help desk solutions online, which only aren't extremely easy to use and integrate, but also beautiful.
Rovio has teamed up with Lappset, a manufacturer of park and playground equipment, to build officially licensed Angry Birds activity parks for children. The first activity parks will pop up early next year in Finland, but it comes as no suprise that Rovio’s plan is to introduce these ”Angry Birds Magic Places” in every corner of the world.
CMO Peter Vesterbacka says that Rovio will not build large amusement parks in style of the previously seen Chinese knock-offs. The company wants to engage kids in activity rather than force them to wait in line for 15 minutes in order to enjoy a two minute ride. The new Angry Birds parks will also include in-game features that will bring the game and the physical world together.
At the end of last week, Tripl announced it is travelling out of private beta and is hoping to find people to connect with in the real world. We covered their $300,000 funding round last May, but if you don't remember their service, they're another Swedish startup in the social travel sphere. Tripl searches your and your friends' connections and check-ins from Facebook to help you meet the locals whenever you're in a strange city. And when you're just at home, I suppose Tripl is sort of like Couch Surfing. You get to meet with new people who come visit your city, except without some stranger staying the night.
Minecraft, the super popular Swedish indie game, has reached 18 million downloads. This can be seen from the statistics on the game website. In addition to the 18 million downloads, the game has been bought by 4.3 million people. With current price of 19,95€ a piece that translates to a over 80 million euros in revenue. However, the game has been priced differently over the years so this is just a guiding figure.
Our coverage of Liilak about a month ago provides a good picture of the idea crowdsourcing service, but after talking to CEO Jarkko Jokirinta as part of a series of posts on behalf of Tekes, we learned more about the next layer they're placing on top of that service. "We aim to be the de facto link between people and businesses all around the world," says Jokirinta. "When anyone has a praise or an idea about a product they use every day or business they somehow are in connection with, all they need to do is open Liilak and share their thoughts."
In this way, they're moving towards more of a combination of Twitter, Foursquare, and a feedback system. Through each other's praises and by following other people and their suggestions Liilak allows people to learn what is buzzing. "We empower the crowd to think of better ways of doing things and create enough buzz to get the Businesses to listen."
Anyone who has used Pandora, Last.FM, or any other online radio knows that Spotify's radio features have been "lacking" to put it politely. I'm sure not too many people used the genre / decade buttons to build a station, but those who did likely noticed the same ten songs played over and over again. I appreciate how I can find every type of music imaginable on Spotify, but sometimes I just don't want to be in the driver's seat. Luckily, today Spotify has announced it has beefed up its radio features so you can build radio stations around the tracks or artists you select.
Klarna, the Sweden-based European e-commerce payments solution announced today that it has received $155 million in financing. This new round came from DST Global and General Atlantic, and was supported by Sequoia Capita, who invested in the company in 2010. Already today, Klarna handles over $2.5 billion worth of transactions annually for its 14.000 connected merchants in in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands. The company announced it will use this funding to hire more talent and expand to more regions.
SCALEit is a new startup accelerator program aimed towards entrepreneurs in Denmark. The program is looking for 10 of the most promising Danish tech startups to take to Silicon Valley for an all-inclusive 12-week crusade that will help the companies set up a US presence, create strategies for the US market, become investor ready and ultimately compete on a global level.
During the three-month program, SCALEit will provide the selected startups with everything from knowhow and guidance to mentors, office facilities, transportation, events, workshops and investor meetings. Unlike most accelerators, SCALEit will not ask for equity from the participating companies but taking part in the program does cost 100,000 DKK per startup.
Creaza is a startup out of Norway that has created an accessible online platform for planning, making, and editing creative work. Their platform is available for individuals, but they target their work for schools and the educational setting. It makes good sense to host their suite in the cloud. Many schools are wary of incompatible software on aging computers, and with the online connectivitiy Creaza has also added group collaboration and social features for its mindmapping, cartoon making, video editing, and audio editing platform.
A big part of the process of getting a new phone is to play around with it a little. Where as before the specifications of the device played a big role, these days the usability and the experience as a whole play a major role. Microsoft has realised this and made an effort to help people with the onboarding experience. Now you can surf to http://aka.ms/wpdemo and test it on your current phone. The test is actually quite good and gives a quick glimpse of the possibilities of the phone for those who have not had a chance to test Windows Phone devices just yet.
It might seem like I've began a holy war against other media corporations out there, but no - I'm just trying to prove how ridiculous the media business is online and just how far it will go for a few more eyeballs. This case in my opinion is a perfect example of such an activity where certain laws become secondary. On December 6th Finland celebrated its independence day and the Finnish president invited the most successful people from various walks of life to the Presidential Palace for a gala evening. This year Peter and Teija Vesterbacka also were invited due to Peter Vesterbacka's work as the CMO of Rovio. Teija Vesterbacka wore a red dress for the evening that had design concepts from one of the birds in the mobile game Angry Birds.
All this caused a huge stir online as a result of numerous blogs and media sites showing the dress in a photograph. It's all good publicity for Teija and Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio and Finland except for tiny detail - all of the international outlets that published the picture of the couple walking down the isle, did so illegally.
AppGyver is a young startup out of Helsinki which has created a cross-platform mobile development platform that allows anyone with HTML5 knowledge to create native iPhone apps quickly and efficiently. This gives power to web developers and advertising agencies to easily offer their clients feature-rich applications that are impossible to create with mobile websites and standard HTML5 apps.
The normal steps for writing and testing out an app can be a slow process. First, you have to write and design you app the development environment, compile the app as a binary file, then sync it with a cable to test out your progress on the phone. AppGyver simplifies the process with it's live preview feature:
We stick to digital startups here at ArcticStartup, but we're not afraid to wander if something catches our eye. A new project on KickStarter has done just that: a couple of guys from Helsinki have created Wishbhone, a clever piece of plastic that allows you to actually store your headphones without them turning into the strongest, most complicated knot known to man. You can receive the product if they reach their goal, and if you donate more than $10 (€7.50).
I'm writing this from LeWeb, actually from the back of a mobile sauna the Travelling Salesman Crew brought in. It's about the only place I could find a seat outside of the main hall to work a little. If you are in LeWeb, do pay the sauna a visit! Loïc and Geraldine have been able to pull together one big event once again in Paris with some 3300 people from all around the world.
It must be part of the evolution of LeWeb and technology conferences in general (us included with Arctic15), but most of the content in the first day of Le Web this year seemed to be full of product launches.
A couple of months ago we reported that Swedish app developers were facing a double value added tax in the EU market. Once implemented, the tax would have put several Swedish startups at a competitive disadvantage.
With pressure from Per Strömbäck, spokesperson for the Swedish Games Industry, and others, the Swedish authorities finally caved in last week and announced that they will put the double tax on indefinite hold until EU member states can agree on common guidelines for the taxation of electronic services.
The concept of Bambuser, the service that allows you to live upload video from your smartphone, came from a final exam project Måns Adler worked on while finishing his studies. At the time, he pictured three use-cases for the project: the first involved a Grandma running late to her grandchild's graduation, yet luckily was still able to watch the first half from her smartphone. The second was a father who couldn't make it to his kid's soccer game, yet was able to get it live-broadcasted from another parent. And the third case Adler pictured was an Iraqi filming daily life in Bagdad, or footage of soldiers shooting at civilians. "This was back during the Iraq war... and I saw a service like this useful for stuff maybe CNN wouldn't publish or the U.S. government would object to."
For a university project it was quite prophetic. As people have taken to the streets protesting governments and corporations around the globe, Bambuser has become a source of truth where emotions and media spin can cloud the facts. Despite the Bambuser website's glowing stock images of couples filming each other on the beach, the service's major impact has been on live-recording angry crowds, tear gas canisters, and riot police.
The beta of Foodie.fm is already running in Finland and the UK, but yesterday TechCrunch reported that Foodie.fm will be launching in all countries at LeWeb this year. The service provides recipes which you can save in the app, which in turn will give you a shopping list to use at the store. Foodie.fm also has a deal with the S Group in Finland, so it gives you the prices of items on your shopping list as well. In UK Foodie.fm product assortment is linked to Tesco.com through their API.
10 billion mobile ad impressions a month is a huge number of ads served across mobile platforms. It's hard to believe, but Rovio has claimed to be the largest mobile ad publisher of the world-- which includes beating Google, which has its ads running on all mobile applications and search results. It's impressive but tough to digest.
Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds has already invaded all known platforms like Apple iOS, Android, Windows, Chrome browser and so on. It currently boasts 500 million downloads on all the available platforms, which makes the claim of 10 billon ad impressions a month believable. Peter Vesterbacka, Chief Marketing Officer of Rovio has been very vocal about this and even voicing plans on creating a new advertising method. We saw this happen with the release of Angry Birds Rio campaign that acted as a massive promotion for Rio the movie.
For developers, having as many payment models as possible gives better flexibility for your app's business plan. This is especially important when targeting the frontier of new untapped markets, such as those where the affordable Nokia Asha 303 is expected to expected to be popular. Nokia just announced that they are now supporting in app purchasing for the Asha 303, which is the first for the Series 40 platform.