Online gaming and social gaming are the two biggest blocks of the gaming market in Russia. The market's overall worth has been growing by roughly $20M a year since 2008, reaching $250M in 2010. The 20-30% growth is expected to continue in the following years, estimates RIA Novosti. Between 3-5M people actively play online games, mostly MMORPG client and browser-based games. Even more people - between 10-15M - play social games on local social networks like Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki. Large as they might seem, those numbers pale in comparison to the number of online gamers in Europe or US. Russia is lagging behind due to its slowly developing Internet connections (especially in the regions), forbidding price of unlimited data plans and undeveloped online payment systems. At the same time, all of those are changing to the better which is why online gaming market is set to grow to $400M in 2012. Other facilitators of growth include social networks' growing audience together with a growing number of successful online games.
Applifier has just announced that they have launched "Games On Applifier", essentially a Facebook app to help users discover and find new interesting games. Applifier is Facebook's largest cross promotion network with 55 million monthly active users (MAU). Previously, Applifier has enabled game publishers to promote their games through their banners, but this takes game discovery and recommendations to a completely new level.
CrowdCulture is a new initiative in Sweden, which looks to bring a new way of creating culture. The concept combines private money together with public money to fund the creation of culture. It works in a simple way. There are projects in the service, which individuals can fund, the public will then double all the private money in the fund to bring more leverage.
Sulake has today announced their figures for fiscal year 2010, as well as some changes to their ownership of online properties. In 2010, Sulake turned over 56,2 million euros, which is over 20% more than in 2009. EBITDA for 2010 was at 5,4 million euros profit for the year was at 1,6 million euros. In addition to announcing their financials, Sulake has stated that they have today sold IRC-Gallery to Somia Reality Oy, which is run by a few former IRC-Gallery employees and funded by Lifeline Ventures and a few individual investors.
NetClean, a Sweden based company uses image recognition in a new manner to tackle a difficult problem - child pornography. The company has a new approach to the problem and instead of using traditional image recognition, which has its problems, it has partnered with local law enforcing agencies and organisations to fight the problem.
Skype is setting itself to become a center of all attention as it comes to the classroom. The idea is to connect teachers beyond classrooms with its online directory. Again this isn’t about teachers only, but rather bringing a global experience to students as well.
Yesterday we released the first part of the Muxlim Founder and CEO, Mohamed El-Fatatry interview. In the interview, El-Fatatry talks about the creation of their business and how they went on to grow it. In the second part of the interview El-Fatatry explains how they realised a completely new business area after discussions with Coca-Cola.
Ok, we admit it - this is a bit light on news, but it deserves to be shared. One of the best metrics for the success of Rovio's Angry Birds has been the amount of user generated content people have created after being inspired by the game. There have been a lot of different products inspired by the game too. However, this is perhaps the best user created film on the game to date. It's very high quality, but also very timely - with the crisis in Libya.
In our previous story with Nexit Ventures we talked about how 2010 was a good year for venture capital in the US. This time, we're digging into the state of the venture capital industry in Finland. I again, turned to Artturi Tarjanne for some research data on the situation. Overall in Finland, 97 million euro worth of venture capital investments were made. This is little over 4% increase from 2009 when 93 million euros worth of VC investments saw day light.
Organizing a travel plan or a trip is a definite nightmare. Perhaps this is one of the main reasons why we are always seeing one service after another attempt at tackling the problem. Planify is one more that emerged as the winner of the Garage48 Riga. The idea? It emerged from need as the Silver Hage, Co-founder of Planify made plans for his Tokyo trip and couldn’t find any tool useful enough. This led to the creation of Planify.
We haven't covered Muxlim at ArcticStartup in the way it deserves to be covered. So, what better way to do it than have a talk with the founder and CEO of the company, Mohamed El-Fatatry. El-Fatatry isn't your usual startup founder in Finland. He's of Egyptian background and went on to start the world's largest muslim-oriented site when still in school. Muxlim grew immensely fast in the early days they didn't really have any competition. One of the drivers of their growth can be attributed to excellent media coverage.
Where do you search for advice when you need to buy an expensive piece of some very specific equipment like ice climbing axe or a soft shell jacket? Looking for that kind of niche information online can be time-consuming and hard. You often end up jumping from site to site, trying to piece together the scattered pieces of information out there. Tribevine, a Finland-based start-up, addresses that problem with a product information community they built around outdoor and extreme sports. Tribevine uses the wisdom of crowds to create reliable and objective reviews of skiing and climbing equipment and present those in a structured and intuitive manner. The website has been operating in closed beta for the past six months. Its main users so far have been a couple of hundred professional athletes who reviewed loads of products. Next week Tribevine will launch their website into public beta to expand their userbase and grow traction.
Big news coming out from Britain. Passion Capital, a new investment company has just announced that they've closed a $60 million fund from both private investors as well as the UK government. Private investors put in $20 million and the British government upped the ante with a $40 million. Passion Capital features three partners, Stefan Glaenzer, Eileen Burbidge and Robert Dighero. The trio is among the most high profile angel investors in Europe.
Just a few days before Christmas last year we wrote about HeiaHeia logging one million exercises. Back then we estimated that they'd cross the 2 million exercise mark around April. Last week they announced that the company has reached this milestone, a little before our estimate. This of course means that they've been able to increase usage, get more users on board or both.
Ever thought about getting even with someone, but never had the courage to do so? There's a little iPhone app now on the market that might help you in this. The game is called Blow'em and it was started as a Garage48 project in Helsinki, Finland in January. It offers users a great way to have fun with its Perverted Candle, Retarded Tomato, Deep Throat or the Angry Egg. The instructions are simple; point, select your weapon and shoot. That’s it, you don’t really need a user guide on this do you?
TrueCaller announced last week that they have reached one million downloads and users for their apps. Only a little over a month ago they announced they have 900 000 users, so the growth has been increasing dramatically in the recent months. TrueCaller is a called ID application for the iPhone, Android and Symbian phones. It has social media integrations and features such as call blocking against spam calls.
GrabCAD, the Estonian company that has created a CAD drawing sharing service for engineers, has been accepted to participate in Techstars Boston program. What makes this all noteworthy is for the following two reasons. According to our knowledge, no Northern European company has been accepted to any US based Techstars program and secondly, especially not after winning Seedcamp London earlier this year.
Garage48 is one of those startup weekend type events, where people gather together for about 48 hours and develop something that could potentially be founded into a startup. The concept isn't all that old, but the people behind it have been active. This weekend Garage48 will take place in Riga and in the coming months, a lot of other cities will also see a Garage48 event take place. In April (15th-17th), Garage48 will take place in Tallinn, at the end of August in Tartu. Later in the year Garage48 will most likely be visiting Stockholm and Helsinki as well. Additionally, the team will have 5 events in Africa this year.
Anything you see can be yours, that’s what Kiosked believes in. The startup revolves around the concept of Web Wide Shop and has developed a secure sales and marketing platform, transforming all content online into a marketplace.
Social networks are today's darlings: a lot of us use at least one and many strive to build one of their own around a certain aspect of their lives. Eskimi belongs to the second camp: the company offers a mobile-first social network. Eskimi's main purpose is to help users meet new people. To that end, everything is made simple in the service: creating a profile requires only a username, date of birth, your location and gender. Thus, you are free to chat with other users after 30 seconds of using Eskimi.
You can also share photos and send gifts or private messages. Even though the service works both in a browser and as an app, being mobile-first means Eskimi gets most of its traction from mobile platforms. Most of their users come from the emerging markets like Asia, Africa and Latin America. Founded only a year ago in Lithuania, the service today has 1M registered users who generate over 300M pageviews and 60M messages per month.