Destly, the Swedish e-commerce site for discounted luxury travel has just announced that Visit Technology Group has invested an undisclosed amount for 20% ownership of the company. Visit's founder and CEO is Magnus Emilson, who was also an early investor in Tradedoubler. He's been very active with the investments in other companies as he has ownership in livebookings.com, arrivalguides.com, jetshop.se to name a few.
Real Networks, who bought Mr. Goodliving back in 2005, has decided to shut down the company. In doing so, it will have to fire the 44 people currently employed there. The news come to us through Dome.fi. The news came pretty suddenly as the chief of the gaming division at Real had flown to Finland two days ago to announce the shut down of the company at 6pm on Tuesday.
As the Valentine's Day is approaching, some men might start frantically searching for original ways of greeting their sweethearts. One Estonian start-up has just the solution for you - knickers in an envelope! The service is called KnickerMail and the idea behind it is this: if you want to send someone your greetings, don't go buy a postcard, flowers or chocolates but pick a pair of knickers instead. You can choose the text for the hand-written postcard to be sent with the undergarment, order and pay for it all online and voilà - you make the recipent blush and smile at the same time. Andrus Purde, technology and business talent behind the start-up, tipped us their story.
We talked about Uplause back in 2010 and already stated that it made traditional multiplayer gaming old school. It has indeed with its concept of Crowd Games or Massively Multiplayer Crowd Playing Game (MMCPG). It looked promising to us and its recent numbers stand as a solid proof to its success.
Sportlyzer is an Estonian sports software start-up that is developing an application that tracks workouts of amateur athletes and provides automatic consulting advice on top of that. Back in September we wrote about them closing a seed investment and now their product is almost ready for launch. No official date is announced but one of the founders, Tõnis Saag, shared some curious details of the progress the company has made so far. The team has been spending all this time developing the online coach - a character called Mike Lyzer. 'We have been doing a huge amount of work on the training management algorithms, the user interface and making those two meet. By now we have put them all together into a dirty prototype and just started interviewing target customers to embody the application for private beta', states Tõnis.
Recent IFPI report on digital music reveals the size of Spotify in Europe and how much money it's actually churning for the record labels. The report also stated that on a European level, Spotify is the second single largest source of digital music revenue for record labels. This means that 2010 saw dramatic increase in its usage as well as payouts to record labels and artists themselves.
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.