Rovio has announced that Angry Birds will expand to Facebook on February 14th. They did this in a very subtle way, by inviting people to an event on Facebook itself. Angry Birds has been anticipated to arrive on Facebook since last spring. At the time of writing this there are only a little over a thousand people invited to the event, but this will surely grow as the date gets closer.
Last week saw the closure of hugely popular site Megaupload.com that functioned as a file-sharing site for individuals. That was the intention, but many used it to share illegal files as well. It has been publicly stated, that due to the fact that the service held so much pirated material - the FBI and New Zealand police arrested Kim Dotcom (previously Kim Schmitz). Kim Schmitz is actually half German, half Finn which qualifies him for coverage on ArcticStartup.
We've received news that tomorrow Blaast is launching "the world's first cloud-based mobile platform" in Jakarta, Indonesia in cooperation with the mobile operator XL. The Helsinki-based company is throwing a press event and hackathon designed to catch the attention of the local press and the local developer community, who are encouraged to create apps for the entirely cloud-based platform. Finland's Foreign Minister, Alex Stubb, is also in Jakarta and will likely attend the launch.
Blaast has been operating in stealth mode for some time, but what's been public is that the company's cloud based platform will essentially allow 'dumber' feature phones to behave like smartphones by running the complicated background processes in the cloud. Android already incorporates some of this ideology, but Blaast has built its entire platform on this concept.
Finnish social news aggregator Scoopinion is looking to capitalize on Twitter’s acquisition of competitor Summify. According to co-founder Johannes Koponen, Summify’s unanticipated exit and subsequent shut down has enabled Scoopinion to grow its user base significantly during the last few days.
Has Scoopinion caught a lucky break? Well, not really. It all comes down to hard work. The guys at Scoopinion were quick enough to react and engage in some aggressive marketing tactics, recommending the startup’s newsletter service as an alternative to Summify on all major news sites and blogs that covered the acquisition.
Finland-based Cabforce launched officially at the Nordic Travel Fair last week. The service allows business and recreational travelers to book a taxi up to two hours in advance, and pre-pay with a credit card online. This saves the stress of being "taken for a ride" on a longer route in an unfamiliar city, and simplifies payment and language hassles with local drivers.
Editorial note: This is a sponsored blog post by Microsoft as part of their series Hear it from startups.
Imagine Cup is an annual competition aimed at students worldwide, who are looking to change the world. Each year students compete against each other in many different categories for the best application. Applications are judged by their real world potential in changing the world, but also how viable they are business wise.
This year the finals will take place in Sydney, Australia and Microsoft Finland will be sending one team from Finland to the finals. The team however, has to win the semi-finals in Finland first.
Imagine Cup has multiple different categories available, but if you choose to enter the competition local semi-finals will be held for the Windows Phone Challenge as well as the Software Design categories.
PlayMySong has announced it has received $350,ooo (€271,000) in funding, allowing them to open an office in New York City and continue their reach in bars and venues between both coasts of the United States. In case you haven't seen our previous coverage, PlayMySong is a social jukebox mobile app that lets patrons control the background music you hear when you're out at a bar, diner, or at a similar location where the venue owner has the PlayMySong app running on iOS device connected to the sound system.
Helsingin Sanomat wrote an article on A.W. Yrjänä, the head of a successful Finnish rock band CMX, and how much money they made on Spotify and through record sales. Yrjänä is a multi-talent. Not only does he write and sing the vocals for their songs, but he also writes poems and books. He shares with us that Iäti, their album that came out in September 2010, wasn't really a huge success financially even though it shot to number one on the charts.
Unfair Advantage is out! Our guest this week is William Wolfram, the CEO and founder of DealDash. DealDash is a penny auction site with a lot of small innovations to improve the shopping experience. We talked to Will about pretty much everything related to DealDash; how he started it, what he did when he started the company, how they're doing financially and so forth. Listen in to hear the story of DealDash and what Will thinks of running a company that does revenue in the low eight figures annually.
Hammerkit, the Finnish cloud technology provider, today received €1.25 million investment from the North West Fund, joining Veraventure and Tekes as investors. The company produces scalable digital solutions for the global PR and marketing industry, and will use the funding to open a sales and development center in Liverpool.
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Jaakko Salminen. More information on him towards the end of the post.
One of the generally accepted wisdoms of the Finnish startup and growth company environment is shortage of private money. Startups run to Tekes for funding supposedly due to lack of available private early investments, and growth companies get sold very early when there is no VC money available. Easily available public funding is often cited as the dragon eating away any lucrative investment opportunities, and the vicious circle is ready.
Or is private money simply being directed elsewhere? In fact some very interesting sources for additional private money could be made available, if we take a forward-looking attitude.
A few days ago I listened to Horace Dediu's Critical Path and it got me thinking that would governments be able to increase innovation and competition through more transparency in the economy. Dediu talked about the movie business in one the more recent shows and he stated it many times that it is very hard to analyse the industry at large as they do not provide any figures on how different players are doing.
Further into the podcast, he went on to explain the findings of his study and more specifically how movies are financed as well as how the accounting works in the industry. Having listened to his findings, I completely understand why there is so little innovation and disruption taking place in the industry.
The lack of innovation was put in concrete explanation in Fred Wilson's blog post on AVC yesterday where he argues that scarcity is a bad business. He writes how he wanted to find something interesting to watch through many different legal movie services, but was unable to find anything worthwhile. In the end he had to resort to a "foreign rogue site", as he put it.
Editorial note: This is a sponsored post by Microsoft and is part of the Hear it from startups -series.
I had a chat with Drazen Dodik, a Microsoft Student Partner, about the Geeks on Wheels tour they did with the other Microsoft Student Partners in November and December. All in all the gentlemen toured some 12 different cities and universities in Finland, talking to students about the possibilities Windows Phone offers. The tour was also an answer to the numerous requests they had received regarding Windows Phone trainings from faculties and different partners around Finland.
Our January's recruiting partner is DealDash, a Helsinki, Finland based startup. They operate a "gamified" shopping site that we've been covering recently. Back in October we covered their growth in quite a bit of detail, but we're very happy to report that this growth has further continued and seems to continue into the future. To fuel this, they of course require the best of talent that is out there.
Currently DealDash is looking for front-end developers. If you've got your doubts about the financials of this particular startup, you need not worry.
Community-powered safe surfing tool WOT reached another milestone this past Monday by passing 30 million downloads. The number of downloads has effectively doubled during the past 12 months and the latest figure checks off a great year for the Finnish company - a year that also included new partnerships with social media giant Facebook and Russian email provider Mail.ru.
The court's order to make Elisa block access to certain websites became our most retweeted story yesterday. It received almost 1500 retweets in about 24 hours. I'm sure the plaintiff didn't anticipate the implications this will have, not only on Elisa but on a variety of other things - potentially even harming themselves. The more significant result to this is perhaps that Finland received a lot of negative publicity in the digital media space for its court's decision. In a time when countries are competing for appeal in the eye of digital media entrepreneurs, a lot of potential candidates saw Finland's position diminish. This may sound far fetched, but it really isn't. Let me explain why.
Elisa, one of the largest internet service providers in Finland, has been forced to block access to The PirateBay for its customers. Elisa issued a press release (in Finnish) on the matter moments ago. The decision was given by a local district court in Helsinki. Elisa has stated that they will seek correction to the decision in supreme court. As of today, all Elisa and Saunalahti (part of the same group) customers will be denied access to ThePirateBay on an operator level, meaning they have denied access to the servers in their name servers.
According to Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish), and two of their independent sources, Risto Siilasmaa will be proposed to become the next chairman of Nokia. Currently, the Chairman of the board is Jorma Ollila. Siilasmaa is the largest shareholder and also the founder of F-Secure, a computer security company.
Are you more active on Google+ than any other social network? Now you're able to also follow ArcticStartup on Google+ and get all our updates in a similar fashion to Twitter and Facebook. Google+ recently came out with its pages feature enabling businesses to create pages similar to those on Facebook. While we don't get a lot of traffic from Google+ currently, we do realise it's in our interest to offer alternatives to our readers in the way of distributing our news. Google+ has also been generally touted as the place where many technologically oriented people hang out.
Gecko Systems is a Finnish technology company that has taken an out-of-the box approach to location based services and markets. Instead of thinking of the obvious (which by Nordic standards usually means Western markets, USA, etc.), they have turned east towards Russia and their solutions, namely Glonass, a competitor to the GPS (Global Positioning System).
Editorial note: This is a guest post by Timo Jäppinen. He is the managing director of a marketing agency Drayton Bird Associates Finland.
You can’t do much about Europe – either it will fall apart or it won’t.
Here are three things you can bet money on, though.
First, the politicians won’t save you. They have no worries. And second, the only economy you should worry about is your own.
And there is one piece of good news. Those who start getting things right during a recession come out stronger than those who sit on their hands.
As the year is turning to an end, we'd like to take a moment to wish all our readers a very happy and relaxing holiday season. We have had an awesome year here and we're glad that so many of you have enjoyed the ride with us. To be exact there are more than 50 000 of you who keep coming back each month. That's a lot when we work hard to stay away from any click optimized, SEO focused content. We're of course very happy about this, but it's more awesome for all the startups in the region - they've got the world's attention.
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.
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).
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".
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.
Finnish software company Profium, creating solutions for the media industry, has signed a million euro deal with AFP (Agence France-Presse). AFP is the world's oldest news press and they create news in six different languages, around the clock, around the world. The deal enables AFP to take Profium's Metadata Server into global use. The deal is valued at one million euros, which is significant for this Espoo based company. 2010 revenues for the company were 1.4 million euros.
Vesa Perälä, the CEO of WOT, contacted us late last night about the ruling of the lawsuit (which we covered in February) against them. They won and the court of justice in Florida granted the motion to dismiss with prejudice.
The case was brought up against WOT by ten differenf companies, which were later found out to belong to Mr. Ayman El-Difrawi. The companies wanted WOT to remove the ratings and comments left by users against those websites.
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.