Not so long ago we wrote about Grey Area launching their first MMO game, Shadow Cities, in the US. Today the company surprised us with another big launch, this time in Europe. From now on the game can be downloaded for free in local AppStores in 13 European countries: Italy, France, Germany, UK, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark and Norway. This follows-ups company's earlier promise to open up new big markets already in June.
The move to a shorter and simpler .com domain is associated with Vkontakte's efforts to expand their global reach. As Ilja Perekopskij, Vice-President of Vkontakte, told Forbes, international expansion (starting from Europe) is one of the company's key strategic goals for 2011. Vk.com is shorter, simpler and easier to remember for foreigners claimed Pavel Durov, founder and CEO. Vkontakte's revenue and user metrics are looking really good so far. According to Ilja Perekopskij, in 2010 the company's turnover was $98.3M, $44.76 of which came from advertising. Now their monthly revenue is $8-9M, 60% of which comes from advertising, 30% from applications and 10% from other services. By the end of the year Vkontakte plans to increase their revenue by 70%-100% compared to last year.
Startup weekend is organising a mobile oriented event this weekend in Copenhagen. It's already been of immense popularity, but we thought we'd show some support to the event in the form of offering free tickets to Arctic15 conference for the winning team. So, if you'd like to have a chance at winning the event, but also winning Arctic15 conference tickets for the whole team - participate now.
Ads on the web can be quite annoying. They pop up when you don't want them, they make webpages crowded and messy and they can distract you from the content you are looking for. At the same time, ads are an intrinsic part of the web: they make all the free content online possible and sometimes they even bring value to the user. How do you reconcile these two conflicts? InfluAds, a Copenhagen-based startup, has launched their solution to this problem: a crowdsourced ad network. The start-up also received undisclosed seed investment from Kima Ventures.
Last week we published a post on venture capital per capita. In those figures, Europe was shown in a light not too respectable. Where as Israel received a whopping $142 of venture capital per capita, Europe was at mere $7. Last week some other interesting statistics came out regarding Finland's investment amounts for this year. Mikko Suonenlahti, in a Kauppalehti article, forecasts Finland to receive some 175 million euro of investments this year. If you divide this by the 5.37 million people Finland has, it turns out to some $46 per capita, only this year. Naturally we wanted to find out what the figure is for Sweden and it's pretty close: $45 per capita (overall investments 2.67 billion SEK and a population of 9.35 million people).
Nokia has also announced today in Singapore, that they will be introducing 10 Symbian phones in the coming 12 months. Stephen Elop, Nokia CEO, said on stage that they plan to offer support and software upgrades through 2016 giving some hints on the continuity of the platform for developers. According to an article in AllThingsD, Nokia will also start shipping the new version of Symbian, Anna, on new hardware next month. Current Symbian phone owners will be able to upgrade their phones with the new version starting August.
One often hears that European mentality does not regard patents as important as folks in the US. One of the signifiers: patent and copyrights laws in any European country are much less extensive than those in America. While this might seem trivial, this fact is relevant for technology start-ups. We talked with Richard Allan Horning, one of the most highly regarded Silicon Valley attorneys, about patents and why they are important. Richard has been representing technology companies since 1970. His clients vary from early-stage start-ups to Fortune 500 multi-nationals. Today Richard spends a significant part of his time helping Northern European companies expand to US.
Nokia has today unveiled a new, all touch screen, phone in Singapore. The phone is MeeGo based and is the much awaited phone from that line of devices. It will be out later this year. Nokia's N9 is available with more specs on their promotional page with a "design story" -video by Marko Ahtisaari, the SVP of Nokia's design.
Ahtisaari also stated that the version of MeeGo is able to run QT applications, an environment that has already been shipped on some 100 million phones. The N9 also has an 8 megapixel still camera that also captures high-definition video.
Followers and fans of Sofanatics probably got used by now to their virtual stadium chat interface introduced earlier in the spring. Today's announcement can bring that view to a great number of other websites: Sofanatics released their API. This means that from now on anyone can embed Sofanatics' virtual stadium on their own page. To add new matches to the screen, you'd need to add a few lines of code and voilà - you connect supporters during the game on your own website featuring a stadium chat interface. The embedded version does not have activation or other limits so even small clubs can embed Sofanatics' stadium view.
Playmysong, a Finnish start-up that lets visitors in venues choose songs to be played there, launched their service in the Roxy Theater, one of the most legendary rock clubs in Los Angeles. Playmysong ventured to US earlier this spring, their first location being Overlook NYC bar in New York. Roxy Theater is the first location to use the service in California. Getting an impressive venue like that to use Playmysong is a huge bonus when it comes to customer acquisition.
We're live blogging the Startup Sauna Demo Day event from Aalto Venture Garage. Startup Sauna is a 7-week long entrepreneurial program to find and grow the most potential startups from the region further and bigger. The program has featured external speakers and mentors who have helped guide the startups. The Demo Day event will see the participating teams pitching their companies one last time (in the name of the program) to the attendees and also show what they've achieved.
Yesterday I had the chance to meet up with a Finnish startup that hasn't been making headlines all that much - Senseg. Understandably too, they've been busy building their technology for the previous years. Back in 2008 they announced investments from ASI and Vera Ventures (see our coverage). Since then, I heard today, the company hasn't issued any press releases at all. You might think this is warning signal of some sort, but it's not. The company has been busy developing their hardware as well as software. I was able to test their demos and they felt, literally, really good.
The Swedish business paper Dagens Industri has written that they consider Spotify, the crown jewel of the Swedish internet companies currently, to be valued at around 1.6B euros (or 15 billion Swedish crowns). The paper values Spotify in comparison to the recent IPO of Pandora, which was valued at almost 3.5 billion dollars at IPO. The stock fell below its IPO price of $17 and closed yesterday at $13.26.
Mobile computing is said to be the third step in the evolution away from smartphones, according to a recent report by Morgan Keegan. We got our hands on this as part of our partnership with Nexit Ventures, who know this stuff by hard and have realised the potential there is in the market place. Mobile computing is thought to be the next step after the mobile investment theme, which succeeded the smartphone investment theme. Why is this significant then for investors and entrepreneurs alike?
Note: “Road To Exit: Start-up’s First Year” is a practical blog series addressing the most common legal questions and problems that a start-up company and its management faces during their first year of operation. The series is sponsored by Attorneys at Law Borenius Ltd.
For a company with genuine international business that is not confined to a single country, it can be worthwhile to consider international options when it comes to taxation. Startups that do not require the actual work being done completely in Finland can consider settling in another country with a more favourable tax climate for the shareowners. For IT-related firms and services this is especially true. Companies that require the actual work to be done in Finland have more limited possibilities to optimise their taxation, though it is still possible.
We organized an elevator pitch competition the other week as part of the International Technology Law Association's Fourth Annual Baltic Conference. It was the third year in a row we have thrown the pitch competition. This year we had five companies (introduced below) taking part. Flockler emerged as the winner, and the runner-up position was grabbed by Hitlantis by Cognitive Maps Ltd.
The winners and the other finalists (not in any particular order):
We're proud to announce that we've started a partnership with Nokia this month to cover the mobile phone company in greater detail. We look forward to bringing you lots of interesting details that otherwise may not have been widely written in public. This first post is about the Nokia Ecosystem and what it means today for those developing software for it. We talked to Karen Lachtanski, who works in Palo Alto for Nokia.
Thinglink expanded their reach with a new Rich Media Tags tool that adds content and functionality of other websites and social media to any image. In other words, Thinglinked images would allow users to interact with Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Spotify, Vimeo, Wikipedia, SoundCloud and Twitter directly from within a single image. This is a huge addition to the service as it makes Thinglink's tags even more relevant and meaningful.
In Europe we've come to realise it that while there are certain hotspots, to among which Northern Europe is slowly growing into, venture capital in general is extremely scarce compared to other parts of the world. Jan Müehlfeit, Microsoft’s European chairman, spoke this week in Brussles to TechEurope, in a Microsoft Bizspark summit, about the differences and challenges Europe faces as an area for entrepreneurs. Venture capital is clearly one of them.
Angry Birds Magic, which was further announced last night in New York at the RWW2Way Summit, will be using both NFC and GPS to enable new features and possibilities for gamers. Mighty Eagle Peter Vesterbacka and Ramine Darabiha, the product manager for Angry Birds Magic have stated in GigaOM, that the new platform will enable both new revenue streams for Rovio, but also new ways for gamers to enjoy the game.