Techdirt has brought to our attention an interesting turn of events in adopting the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, also known as ACTA. EU Council has adopts ACTA and will thus pass it for vote in the European Parliament. EU Council is the place where national ministers get together to adopt laws and coordinate policies. Interestingly, the policy regarding international trade was hidden in a meeting regarding issues of agriculture and fisheries.
Morten Lund, one of Northern Europe's "less traditional" investors announced on his blog that he's now allowing nearly anyone to invest in a pool of startups where he's focusing his time. He's looking to build a €500 000 fund with a €10 000 minimum investment, which may allow smaller investors to capture part of the crazy that saw Skype, ZYB, and his huge seed portfolio before their time. Lund has been one of the most active seed investors in Europe, and currently is the chairman of Everbread and Tradeshift.
In more Scandinavian VOIP news, Vopium from Denmark has released the first Blackberry calling app that allows users to make cheap phone calls phone calls over Wi-Fi or their existing network coverage. While Skype is clearly the market leader in VOIP technology, other players like Rebtel and Vopium have sprung up claiming cheaper calling rates and better integrated experiences.
When you're looking for an event to go to, a product to buy, or a non-profit to support, do you pay attention to advertising or do you listen to what your friends recommend? Goodbuzz from Lithuania blurs the lines by paying people for referrals of products and events on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or by email. How it works is that advertisers post their advertisement to the Goodbuzz website and deposit a sum of money for people who like the advertisment and want to spread the message to friends and followers. At the end of the campaign, the tip is split between these sharers, relative to the leads they've generated.
Editor's note: This is a guest post by Harri Kanerva, CEO, Founder of Valueframe. The company focuses on providing a SaaS based solutions to SMEs.
I’m writing this at an altitude of 10 kilometers in a plane to London. For an entrepreneur dedicated to the cloud service model the view outside of the window is rather fitting to be writing an article like this. ValueFrame was founded back in 2001. In ten years we have managed to become a key player in the Finnish Professional Services Automation market. We currently have 300 customers with 12 000 users in 14 different countries. This year we were nominated Country Representative for the HSBC European Business Awards. For the last five years we’ve been among the Deloitte Fast 50 list of fastest growing technology companies.
The creators of Minecraft have released their first third-party game as a publisher: Cobalt. The game is a 2D platformer with fighting robots that looks like it has similar elements to Super Smash Brothers. It should also be noted that currently there are no single player campaigns, only co-op and multiplayer. The game is only available on Windows initially, with OS X and Linux support arriving in "Beta."
While the world has become paperless, one thing that has been lost is how to get signatures for legal documents. Scrive is a Stockholm based service for e-signing of tenders, contracts, and other documents. To use Scrive, you just have to upload you document, sign it, send it to your contractee, let them sign it digitally, and then it is saved and archived. The company just closed their second angel round on the 15th.
As Rebtel launches version 2.0 of it's VOIP app on Android, they also announce they have hit 15 million users making it easily the second largest VOIP company after Skype. With a run rate of over 1 billion minutes per year, the company claims it is on pace to hit $75 million in revenue by the end of 2011. This competition in the VOIP sector can only benefit consumers, as you can see with the innovations present in their new app update.
Rovio's Chief Marketing Officer, also known as the Mighty Eagle, has come out with figures regarding Rovio's financials in an interview by Tekniikka & Talous, a Finnish newspaper. In the interview, he also said Rovio is looking to IPO in Hong Kong in 2013. In 2010 Rovio's revenue was around $10 million. This year the company expects its turnover to be around $100 million.
Om Malik, the founder of GigaOm was speaking in Helsinki to a room of media representatives yesterday morning at the Aalto Venture Garage. His visit to Finland is part of a tour to come understand the companies and environment the local startups work in. Before Helsinki, he had visited Berlin and the LeWeb conference in Paris. I managed to talk to Malik about the way he sees these entrepreneurial hubs.
The big part of our discussion circled around the fact that people in Europe always look up to Silicon Valley and how they succeed in everything they do, while failing to see all the potential in front of their eyes. I have to say, while I knowledge the value Silicon Valley has on companies - I wonder how much possibility is wasted when following a given path without truly thinking of the possibilities closer to you. After all, Rovio didn't go to Silicon Valley to succeed - it all started with an innocent tweet by a Swedish athlete in the Nordics (going international I mean).
Maxygen, Qminder, and Zonear all won the Fall 2011 Startup Sauna Demo Day here in Helsinki. It was an interesting event, with a nice Keynote by Om Malik the founder of GigaOm. On top of that there were some solid and entertaining pitches, and the StartUp Sauna guys put on a good show.
Maxygen is producing an interesting product on the social level. From what I understand, they do cheap and quick DNA testing through a device they built, which can tell doctors whether or not you have an infectious disease. Currently hospitals provide this service through their laboratories, but not every hospital has this access in developing countries.
An interesting new startup coming out of Denmark is Movellas, a new but familiar platform to create, discover, and develop stories and writing talent. Movellas is essentially a writing community to make it easy to self publish and read new stories. So far they've only officially launched in Denmark but they also have a working English version of the site.
CEO Per Larsen tells us that currently they're targeting a younger audience of authors and readers, and that most of their writers are in the 14-18 age group. But within that younger crowd they're seeing a hotbed of activity, with users who are engaged with reading and writing a large number of stories, as well as using the social features to comment and share.
Nordic Startups, a brand new accelerator program for Swedish web and mobile startups, will soon start its operations in Stockholm. According to the accelerator's representatives, the program will be modeled after some of the world’s leading accelerators, such as TechStars, YCombinator and Seedcamp.
Nordic Startups plans to take in six new startups every three months. During each three-month period, the accelerator will provide startups with in-depth coaching, mentoring, office space, and a fun and enriching work environment. The program is largely based on lean startup methodology and includes an investor demo day as well.
In the past few years even the biggest and most traditional organizations have taken steps to modernize their services. In the banking business, E-invoicing is here to stay due to the worldwide incentives to get this working. In the For example in Denmark, Tradeshift has seen a lot of traction with their model. The situation in Finland is slightly different due to the numerous operators offering solutions in this area. One of them is Maventa.
We've covered Maventa in the past as well, back in 2010. Back then we called them the rebel e-invoicing provider and it seems the rebels are taking over "the universe".
Last evening Issuu announced the beta release of their HTML5 app, opening their collection of thousands of magazines to the iPad and other devices. Before this release, Issuu was rough to access on an iPad; Issuu was built out of Flash, so for basic iPad accessibility publishers needed to upload their files into a "single page - continuous" format, similar to a standard PDF reader, and not the magazine style format which has become what they're known for.
On their GetSatisfaction page they explain the issues they've faced to get in the app store:
Just a couple of weeks ago we wrote that Supercell would be announcing multiple new games in early 2012. Well, one of them will be Battle Buddies, and will be available for tablets in the first half of 2012. Supercell's first game, Gunshine.net focused on bringing the experience of social, real-time multiplayer gaming to as many people as possible. Since then, the Helsinki, Finland based company has proved the concept works and raised north of 10 million USD from Accel Partners and others.
As Pixelmator writes on their blog, they've had quite a year. The image editing app has been one of the highest rated and most downloaded apps on Mac App Store market, which has translated to a crazy amount of sales at €23.99 a copy. A couple of months ago the Lithuania-originated team won the prestigious Apple Design Award, and yesterday Apple named Pixelmator as the App Of The Year.
Arctic15 winner Mancx has partnered with Viadeo to integrate the company's knowledge transaction platform with the Paris-based professional social network. Coupled with an earlier deal with LinkedIn, Mancx’s “knowledge market” is now directly available to more than 155 million business professionals around the world.
Continuing from our previous coverage of the daily deals market in the Baltics, we're taking a look at the Danish market with information and analysis provided to us by Bownty, the leading daily deals aggregator in Denmark. The company provides a service similar to what Kayak does for air travel; they collect and put together the daily deals for more than 600 cities around the globe, to the point where at any given time more than 4500 deals are available on the service.
Bownty is in a nice postion to give some analysis about the market because as an aggregator, they have little conflict of interest in exaggerating the data. We talked with CEO and Co-founder Steffen Frølund and gained access to data from the several hundred-thousand deals that have been run through their platform.
bSafe is a new app that's designed for those who walk through bad neighborhoods or are inclined to paranoia. The basic functionality of the free smartphone app allows you to press a big red button when you are in danger. Once the button is pressed, the app will automatically call a predefined guardian, as well as send a SMS messages with a map of your GPS position to an unlimited number of people. The app is made by Bipper, a Norwegian maker of personal and child safety apps.