This year is very exit rich, it would seem as we are writing about them nearly every week. Yesterday, the news broke that Facebook, namely the Oculus Rift division, has acquired the Swedish startup - 13th Lab for an undisclosed amount along with another startup - Nimble VR. As a reminder, Oculus Rift itself was acquired by Facebook for a whopping $2 billion in order to focus on making any experiences possible - virtually, as commented by Mark Zuckerberg.
Thinking of setting up store in the world wide web? Sure why not, pretty much everyone’s doing it these days.
Not so fast though. Integrating an e-commerce solution is a big thing, as it can be costly, time consuming to mount and it would be beneficial if it stood out from the thousands of others online stores, which in turn might require customization via plug-in (also potentially costly stuff).
It is less than a week to go until Arctic15, and boy is it picking up speed. We already have a great investor line-up, an impressive list of speakers from the gaming, business, mobile and many other industries. As we are running out of tickets, one thing we were kinda lacking was - social network and technical speakers.
So we decided we are going big with that and are happy to announce that both Myspace co-founder, Aber Whitcomb and Ali Parr from Facebook will be joining us as speakers.
In the realm of freelancing it seems that paperwork and the legal gymnastics required to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s is one of the most painful and frustrating parts of the job. Arturs Kirtovskis and Karlis Bikis, two of the four man team from Latvia behind Officialize.It think they have come up with a way to simplify the process and take the pain and hassle out of forming a contract.
Editor's note: After noticing some weird numbers on or Facebook reach, we asked Steve Elsharawy from EzyInsights to give us some insight on how brands should look at Facebook publishing.
Recently an AdAge article warned: “It’s going to be harder and harder for many businesses to reach fans on Facebook without paying for ads.”
This may read like a recent, even alarming development but actually this is simply a reflection of the natural growth and maturation of Facebook as a platform both for users and for marketing. As brands ramp up their content output on Facebook, the number of posts continues to rise - all fighting for your attention.
Editor's note: This is an article by our old writer, Anna Bessonova, who now works for Netprofile, a Helsinki based public relations agency.
Facebook has become an essential channel for any company, group or cause to reach out and raise awareness or get new customers. Since the feed has become notoriously cluttered, many brands prefer to pay a bit to boost up their post in their audience’s feed. However, we have noticed a strange pattern of fishy “Likes” that such promoted posts yield.
Every time we "boost" a post, it gets “Liked” by multiple profiles that look rather bogus and, more suspiciously, claim to be living in obscure or non-existent places in Finland. Cases in point are Mataramäki, Sikuri (pic below) and Taipelus. If you search for any of these places on Facebook, you’ll discover that they have dozens of inhabitants with exotic-sounding names (for Finland). If you take Mataramäki, for instance, you won’t find a single Finnish person tagged to that place or, in fact, any reference to Finland on the profiles of people who’ve been to it or “Like” it on Facebook. There are no language reference, no friends with Finnish names, no pictures that would look remotely like they were taken in Finland.
We are now officially over 9000. Fans on Facebook, that is. To celebrate, we ordered a few 'Leap Motion' devices to our office and the upcoming and very secret co-working space. As it happens, we ordered an extra one, which we want to give away to one dedicated reader, fan or follower.
Since Facebook went public a year ago, it has started actively exploring possibilities for monetization and introduced many new features, which in fact seem to be pretty disruptive for users. This situation opens a lot of opportunities for Facebook-based application developers to improve users’ social media experience.
Espoo-based Fajoya builds a mobile app that allows Facebook users to help request, receive and reward favors from their friends. It aims to accomplish a social mission — to make the world a better place where helping others is something everyone wants to do.
Helsinki seems to have two major trends going at the moment. Gaming companies, and startups like Kiosked and Publishzer that are adding interactivity and engagement to images. But with this movement is ThingLink, a startup that adds interactivity to images to drive more engagement. Founded in 2010, they now boast over 130,000 publishers using the platform, including a number of giant newspaper and web publishing properties.
Now when publishers share ThingLinked images to Facebook, they're able the offer the same image tagging functionality right in the Facebook newsfeed. Uses need to click the images first to get the tags to pop up, but now publishers can drive Facebook users to more text information, videos, or links.
Gajatri Studios, a Helsinki based gaming company that made the game Yoga Retreat for Facebook announced earlier this month that they have raised a new seed round of funding. The round comes from Dreadnaught Finance OY and Leena Niemistö as a private investor.
Their first game - Yoga Retreat, allows you to build and manage your own little Yoga getaway. While at it, you will be taught many different Yoga poses as well other other aspects of Yoga. Gajatri Studios is trying to make games that are focused on well-being and inspire you to take better care of yourself and Yoga Retreat is the first game that they built with this attitude.
Microsoft Owes Denmark $1 Billion While Google, Facebook And Others Do Everything They Can To Avoid Taxes
In the recent news it was uncovered that Microsoft owes Denmark 5.8 billion Danish Crowns (Around $1.015 Billion) in back taxes as a result of Microsoft’s acquisition of Navision in 2002.
According to the Danish tax authorities, following the acquisition, the Navision’s money making assets were sold to Microsofts Irish subsidiary below market value. That company is in turn owned by companies in Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands. Which is why Microsoft is often targeted by tax authorities worldwide, as their network of affiliated companies worldwide makes it extremely easy for them to channel profits into tax havens where the corporate tax is virtually non-existent.
Are attitudes towards Facebook shifting where users will start using it more for job seeking? Stockholm-based social job board, Jobylon, has now put a major focus on their "Bounty" jobs where users can refer their facebook friends for jobs, and receive 'bounties' in return. The result is an interesting take on recruiting - sort of a crowdsourced headhunting Facebook app.
The way it works is pretty simple. Users log into Jobylon as a Facebook app, where their algorithm automatically matches their friends (and your friends' friends) to jobs, based on their studies or occupation on Facebook. If the matches look good, you can refer a friend to a job, which is sent as a private Facebook message. If they accept they can forward their details to the employer, and if your recommended candidates get hired, you get rewarded. Of course you can also apply to these jobs yourself, but the cool hook here is the reward system.
Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv reports Opera co-founder Jon S. von Tetzchner has sold shares in the company valued between NOK 180 and 200 million (€24-27 million), as shown in recently released shareholders' statements. After the sale Tetzchner has 5.18% ownership stake in Opera, which is below the 10% limit where Von Tetzchner could have blocked acquisition deals.
Dagens Næringsliv reports on the history of Von Tetzchner's relationship with the publicly traded browser company:
More Scandinavian music news for today following our earlier news that Rdio is officially launching in the Nordics. Soundrop, the Norwegian social music platform made popular through their Spotify app, has brought its "listening rooms" to be embedded on Facebook.
It's a big deal for the company - they're now leveraging multiple sources for content while serving up simultaneous playback, making them less dependent on one licensing provider. Rather than Spotify serving the content, the music on Facebook is handled by VEVO and YouTube. The embedded rooms provide the same simultaneous voting, chatting, and playback experience as in the Spotify app.
Yesterday, Plingm announced that it now allows Linkedin’s 151 million users to call each other for free and also supports chat/group chat. This was big news for the company, but we got in touch with a co-founder of Plingm, Pandelis Eliopoulos and he told us in an interview that this news is small in comparison to todays announcement.
As of today, Plingm also supports Facebook’s one billion users. “You can actually combine all three now, Plingm, Facebook and Linkedin” says Eliopoulos. So you can basically have a group chat with your Plingm contact, a co-worker on Linkedin and a high-school girlfriend from Facebook - all at the same time!
Web Of Trust, the crowdsourced safe-surfing tool, has announced today that Facebook has invited the Helsinki-based service into it's Anti-Virus marketplace. Now Facebook users can download the browser add-on for free from the Facebook Security page.
Rather than preventing viruses from a purely technological analysis, Web Of Trust helps users stay safe online by using the crowd to rate the trustworthiness of the links they've clicked. Using this crowdsourced information, WOT displays traffic lights next to links that show the trustworthiness of the link, protecting users from questionable content, dubious online stores, unreliable vendors, and so on.
While visiting Russia for the first time earlier this week, Facebook’s founder paid a visit to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev after meeting with unidentified IT businessmen and technical teams.
A high tech aficionado, Medvedev – who served as Russia’s President for four years before becoming Prime Minister last March – personifies the Russian government’s effort to develop innovation in the country. So far, however, Medvedev has failed to update his work status on his own Facebook account, where he still appears as President.
“The conversation was very good,” the Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted the Prime Minister’s spokesperson Natalya Timakova as saying. “[Mr Zuckerberg and the Prime Minister] discussed Facebook’s potential presence in Russia not only as a social network, but as a company that works on cutting-edge products.”
Searching for a job or trying to fill a position has forever remained a slow and unrewarding process. But by mixing in crowdsourcing and social features, a Swedish startup, Jobylon, thinks they have the model to fix recruitment by putting a social application on top of Facebook and LinkedIn, and then using the crowd to find the best leads.
The company points out that their emphasis on referrals also manages to target the passive candidates that can be difficult to find. And for active job seekers, Jobylon provides value by putting together information on vacant jobs and employers all in one place.
To answer that question we've been in touch with AppStats to analyze how these entertainment giants are doing. Stardoll of course is one of the more successful online networks aimed at teenage girls and Rovio has been huge on Facebook due to Angry Birds Friends. Angry Birds was "leaked" to Facebook on February 13th. Already in March the company passed 10 million MAUs (monthly active users).
Stay.com, the Norway based travel startup has come out with a new version of its travel app. Last October we had a detailed write up of the company and how it became to be. For this summer, the company has made its city guides social and user friendly with making them work offline. The applications work on Android and the iOS platforms.
The app features some 116 cities which users are able to download to their phones with a simple tap. Each city guide has numerous sites to visit, restaurants to eat at and places to go. Also, not to mention an offline map that works with the iPhone's positioning system showing how lost you might be. Going offline with the city guides helps with the horrendous data roaming costs one can churn overseas.
Facebook has an ungodly amount of money burning in their pocket post-IPO, and the rumor mill has started grinding out stories that the social media giant will buy Opera, the Norwegian desktop and mobile browser company. I suppose it would be a logical move for Facebook. Getting into the browser game would give them a dominant position as the home base for the web, and Facebook has been rumored to be working on a mobile operating system, of which a solid mobile browser is a key component.
We haven't covered Opera much, even though they're probably the most well known Norwegian software company. Even though they haven't gained a sizable market share, by now they seem more like an institution as old as the web, rather than a startup. They've been around since 1995, they're listed on the Norwegian stock exchange, and the company boasts 750 employees around the world.
A Finland and US based company has put together a social discovery search engine for social media. That may sound like a mouthful, but the result, Whosin, is pretty cool for following the topics you like. Whosin allows you to drill down and save social media searches on your interests to find the most relevant and interesting results on your favorite topics. The service launched just three weeks ago and is still in early beta, but the concept is polished and accomplishes its goals.
With the recent change of the Facebook fan pages to support the timeline, all pages now also have a cover image at the top of the page. Since we're really in this to support the growing startup ecosystems in the Nordics and Baltics - what better way to help achieve that than giving the cover image back to our community on the ArcticStartup Facebook page. This means, each week we will be promoting one lucky startup with a pinned post at the top of the Facebook page as well as in the cover image.
The title says it all, Rovio's Angry Birds game has reached over 10 million Monthly Active Users on Facebook's gaming platform. The game launched less than a month ago on Valentines day, meaning this Facebook metric currently tabs up the the number of unique users since its launch. As of this writing, the total number of uniques are around 10.2 million MAU, with another 1.1 million users added today according to the independent Facebook apps metrics webiste, App Data.
It seems that Angry Birds is already available on Facebook. We stumbled upon the game a day early of their official release. A few weeks back Rovio announced on Facebook that they would hold the biggest Facebook event ever and invite everyone and your mom to participate. The day naturally coincides with Valentines Day - a great day to share a good game with your friends. We snatched a few screenshots from the game as we played it and they're available below.
A big issue to consider with any ongoing Facebook marketing campaign is Edgerank-- the algorithm that determines what items pop up in the newsfeed. Facebook tries to show you items that are most relevant to your interests by only showing you status updates, links, and images from the friends and pages that you interact with the most. This provides a strong motivation for Page owners to engage their users and encourage liking, sharing, and commenting. Riding this trend is Bemmu Sepponen, who has created two Fan Page Apps for Facebook, Fan of the Week and Top Fans, where each application has broken the milestone of 1 million monthly active users.
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.
We talked to Harry Nelis, a partner at Accel Partners, about startups, entrepreneurship and Europe as well as many other topics. When we shot the video, Nelis had just come down from the main stage at LeWeb where he participated in the traditional Money Panel. Accel has been able to discover and invest into some of the most successful startups out there. Some of their portfolio companies include Facebook, Groupon, Spotify and the list goes on.
It appears to be a Spotify fest lately ever since the music streaming service announced their partnership with Facebook, bringing the service almost instantly to millions of Facebook users. Due to their reach in more countries, Spotify now announced they reached 2.5 million paying subscribers of the service.
While it would have been great if Spotify shared details on their user demographics, Spotify has kept this information in the shadows. What is more important here is that Spotify has managed to achieve this feat at a time where many listeners have been getting music for free from pirating. To have paying subscribers means that your users love the service and that they don’t mind paying a fee to avail more features, rather a “better user experience”.
There could be nothing better than to reach nearly a billion people through Facebook. The social network has become a target for tons of digital entities trying to leverage the social network. We will not talk about brands and business, rather online services and the most recent example is that of Spotify. Yesterday, Skype made a more social move by enabling Facebook to Facebook Calls via the Skype Client.
Skype already had Facebook integration in its clients. However the latest move follows the announcement Skype made back in July regarding powering the Facebook video chat feature. The platform is widely used and offers Facebook the perfect service to roll out or integrate video chat functionality within the social network’s ecosystem.