Applifier has just released some stats of their Everyplay mobile game video replay platform, announcing that they've been driving 7.5% of game installs for the indie games that have plugged into the Everyplay network.
The Everyplay platform is one part recording service - like a program you would use on your computer to grab video of your screen so you can show your friends gameplay walkthroughs or awesome in-game moments, but built into an iOS game. Accessing Everyplay on these indie games also plugs you into the greater Everyplay network accessed in-game where you can share videos with your friends and see moments from other games.
Everyplay is free for developers to plug into and for users to use. The platform then makes its money by selling ads when users access the Everyplay network, by allowing developers to promote videos to the Everyplay audience, and by providing easy access for deveopers to take advantage of the Applifier Impact advertising network.
According to many, Applifier is one of the hottest startups in Finland and with over 150 million active users in their gaming cross-promotion network - rightly so.
Last year, they announced Everyplay. Which in most basic terms allows in-game replay recording. However it also acts as a gaming video social network as you can share your game replays on Everyplay, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. This, according to Applifier, will drive organic growth for game developers.
The 'Let's Play' style of YouTube videos where gamers narrate and play games has become a gaming staple, but fairly impossible for mobile games. While some may argue that there are more than enough 14 year-olds with cracky voices talking about games on YouTube, mobile developers have reason to want to get in on the action - lots of gamers like to check out videos of real gameplay to see how the game looks and plays, rather than checking out the polished and animated game trailers made by publishers.
This is the big idea behind Helsinki-based Everyplay, a spinoff of Applifier. Everyplay is an in-game cross-game social network where mobile gamers to be able to record and share screencasts of the games they're playing without awkwardly holding a camera or jailbreaking their phone. Today they've beta launched a feature called FaceCam, which takes advantage of your phone's camera to record videos of yourself while playing the game.
Yesterday I took a Skype call from Jussi Laakkonen, the CEO of Applifier, after he told ArcticStartup he had something awesome to show us. The Skype video pops up with him on his walking desk. I should mention for those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it's similar to a standing desk, except that you're slowly but constantly moving on a treadmill, rather than just standing (or sitting) all day.
"Greg," he asks. "What is the most powerful way for you to discover a new game on your iPhone?"
If any of our readers do a lot of negotiations over Skype, I have to recommend you put your camera right in front of a walking desk, because it looks like he's slowly coming after me.
"Uhh, recommendations from my friends?" I respond.
"Exactly," Laakkonen says, and goes into a smooth pitch of Everyplay, Applifier's new cross promotion product that should seriously shake up mobile games. At its essence, Everyplay is an in-game social video network that enables players to share replays from their mobile games, complete with a video of their face, voice from the mic, or just the action on screen. Today Applifier is announcing Everyplay's beta with a select group of developers.
Last year I remember reading news of Applifier's fast growth and funding round, and I remember thinking Applifier would be the new hot Finnish company we'd hear a lot of news from. But what has happened since then? I suppose I can partly blame myself for taking a job here and then leaving everyone in the cold, but to make up for it I caught up with CEO Jussi Laakkonen about what's new at Applifier.
The company is seeing "well north" of 150 million monthly users on Facebook, making it likely the largest cross-promotion network on the site. So far the company has swollen to 22 people offices in Finland and California. Like most regional companies, in California they manage publisher relations, business development, and sales, while the engineering is handled in Finland.
Those are the strategic figures of the Finnish gaming industry at the moment. Last night, prime time news in Finland covered the gaming industry in proper spotlight and outlined a few key figures of the industry. This year, the gaming industry is expected to generate 165 million euros in revenue and in doing so they employ 1200 people. Despite this somewhat significant size of the industry for such a small country, it has yet to see any real public acknowledgement from media at large or politicians. The downside of all this is that there are very few schools who teach anything related to the games industry.
The news broke out today that Applifier has closed $2M in seed funding. The investors include MHS Capital, PROfounders Capital, Tekes, Lifeline Ventures, and angel investors Jyri Engeström, David Gardner and Lars Stenfeldt Hansen. The terms of the investment were not disclosed. Applifier is also announcing today that they have expanded their ad network into the web gaming space - where pain points are similar to that of Facebook; the market is fragmented, user acquisition costs are high and its becoming expensive to get users. We talked to Jussi Laakkonen about the expansion and they see huge opportunities in the space.
Applifier is making the move to the valley, as soon as Jussi Laakkonen, the CEO can get his visa from the US embassy. He has basically packed his bags and his waiting for that one document to arrive before boarding the plane. Applifier isn't completely shifting focus to the valley, although they're putting a lot of effort into it. Jussi Laakkonen will be the first to go for now and he'll be focusing on business development and building the US side of sales and relationships for Applifier. They've also hired a person to help out with business development on the valley side.
Last night's ArcticEvening was definitely one of the best we've managed to organise. I think we managed to nail a couple of things right; fantastic speakers and a great atmosphere among the crowd. The evening started off with sponsor messages from Culminatum, Microsoft and Veraventure. Microsoft is basically looking for 5 companies that leverage the cloud that they could help promote and take global. Veraventure disclosed in the evening that they will be making 24 early stage investments in Finland next year if they find good deal flow - another fantastic opportunity right there. The event was the official after party of the IBP Camp Helsinki, and you can read the transcript of the live blogging that took place in our previous post.
Earlier this week we announced the date and setup for our upcoming ArcticEvening in Helsinki. The tickets are now available for free registration below. As a summary, we'll be having presentations from two very interesting speakers and founders of companies on their journey and how they got to where they are now.
The event will be held on 4th of November, from 6pm to 10pm in Korjaamo (Töölönkatu 51), Helsinki. We'll start the event soon after 6pm, so try to be there as early as possible. Thanks to our wonderful sponsors, we're able to offer everyone a complimentary drink upon arrival - so do take a minute to get to know our sponsors as well.
ArcticEvening Helsinki is also the official after party of IBP Camp Helsinki held earlier that day in Korjaamo as well. The day will feature world class speakers, including Andreas Ehn, ex-Spotify and Timo Soininen, CEO of Sulake. Themes of the day handle productization, challenges of the international sales and marketing with scarce resources, building the international team, and successes and failures in internationalization. Highly recommended, if you're in Helsinki for the day as well. For more information, check out the IBP event page.
It's been quite a while since our previous event in Helsinki and we believe it's time to get the startup community together again. The next ArcticEvening Helsinki will be held on the 4th of November from 6pm to 10pm at Korjaamo. The event happens to coincide with TEDxHelsinki, but that's a day event so make sure you continue the inspirational talks into the evening as well.
So what do we have lined up for you this time? We've managed to reserve two very interesting speakers, from slightly different stages of the company lifecycle. However, both of them have the potential to make it very big. These will be talks by the company founders and their experiences in bringing up the companies to where they are currently.
Reporting from the Mindtrek conference, I managed to have a chat with Jussi Laakkonen the CEO of Applifier about their service and what's been keeping them busy in the recent months. Only a little over a month ago we reported about the company reaching 55 million monthly active users (MAUs) within Facebook with their cross promotion network. Applifier is the successful (I think we can give it to them already easily) full company pivot from Everyplay, which used to be a 3D social game in Facebook.
Applifier is a new Finnish startup that was pivoted from Everyplay, which was originally a social games developer. Applier is a cross-promotion network of independent social application developers on Facebook. It's user base has blow up over night and gone from zero to 55 million users in four months. The service currently represents over 100 social games and applications, and reaches more than 55 million monthly active users (MAUs). According to the company, it reaches more Facebook users than any social game publisher, except of course Zynga.
Everyplay, a Finnish social gaming startup founded last year, has come out of stealth mode and released a product called Kamu World on Facebook. It is a "virtual hangout place" featuring edgy "Kamu" characters ('kamu' also means 'a buddy' in Finnish).
Kamu World in its current form is essentially a collection of visualized virtual characters and chat rooms, with few game-like features. It has compelling and very polished look and feel already, though. When entering the world, players create their own Kamu creature, and choose a location around the world (e.g. a game arcade in Tokyo) to meet other Kamus in. Kamus appear as small, desktop-size creatures, smaller than for example a drinking glass.
Here's a video I shot with my Nokia N95 and subsequently uploaded to JayCut for editing via my laptop (see more on JayCut here). In the video itself Jussi Laakkonen tells about his new social gaming startup, which is still in stealth mode. Jussi asked me to mention that Everyplay is looking into hiring a sitebuilder that can handle Ajax and PHP. You can send your resumes to corporate [at] everyplay.fi
Another long time Finnish gaming master mind Asmo Halinenha s also announced that he's moving on from Apaja, a company he founded, but has only let us know about a few board positions his moving into at this point, namely at Eat.fi and at Grey Area.
Social gaming, unlike many other industries, can actually benefit from the gloomy economic environment, as people many times move towards inpexsive games played in the browser from the expensive console games, and in extreme cases have much more time to play and tinker with all kinds of stuff online if they get laid off. As harsh as this may sound, this is largely how for example Typepad got started when Ben and Mena Trott started Six Apart after they got laid off.
Further, Jussi promised us that he will shed light into how the Finnish gaming industry has evolved from an active demo scene by writing a guest blog post on the topic. Another strong player that has come this route is Scred.
Reporting live from TechCrunch Brunch in Helsinki the morning following Slush. The theme for the morning's panel discussions are the implications of regionality and unique features in the Nordic startup scene.
The event was kicked off by Mike Butcher from TechCrunch UK and Ville Vesterinen from ArcticStartup, chatting a bit about Slush, its background and the Nordic startup environment in general.
The panelists (from left to right in the picture below):
Kai Lemmetty, Founder of Floobs
Janne Waltonen, Marketing director Fruugo
Mark Sorsa-Leslie, Managing director of Hammerkit
Jussi Laakkonen, CEO and president Everyplay.com
Leo Koivulehto, Co-founder and chairman, TripSay
Mike set the scene asking how the panelists see the startup scene in the Nordics, whether the environment is going to stay a tough place to do a startup due to relatively high living costs, difficulties with angel and VC funding etc. A few highlights below.
Mark stated he moved from the UK three years ago, and has been impressed with enthusiasm people have, the great engineering skills, and the passion to get things done in a practical manner. Janne continued the people in Nordic countries are quite modest, which is somewhat hindering international expansion
Janne mentioned the Nordic market's been traditionally about local startups thinking of local markets (Swedes being maybe somewhat different), which should end. As Janne put it, we really have all it takes if we have the will to take over.
Peter Vesterbacka commented the downturn is a perfect time to start a company as you have less competition and could be able to take over a lot of the potential customers in a swift. Furthermore, it's perfect to start in the Nordics, as "if you can make it in the slush you can make it anywhere". The current global economic environment it's actually not even that much different from the "normal" challenges up here.
Mike commented in London the startup world is focusing nowadays on revenues much earlier in the game. According to Janne startups should start marketing as soon as possible, and not really wait until their product is "ready". Traditionally the startups have relied perhaps too much on virality (beta invites etc.). Janne compared his experience between Fruugo and two Swedish startups he's been in, and noted Fruugo has really concentrated on not showing anything in public before they are sure their technical back-end is top notch, whereas the Swedish ones were really open since the beginning without even much knowledge about the technical side.
Stephen Lee from Muxlim added, as an American who's lived in Finland for 10 years, that the governmental systems supporting startups are built around the concept of startups having to prove themselves in Finland first, before getting further money to go abroad. According to Stephen this model doesn't really work anymore, and the organizations (and startups) should turn their focus on going global from the beginning.
Jussi answered arguing the Finnish game industry has gone global since the very beginning. Nowadays the industry is healthy and buzzing with 50+ companies with over 90% export ratio, so it's been proved already we can make it from here. Jussi continued the process for pitching a game concept to a games publisher is really similar to pitching a company to VCs, so there are people who have been pitching successfully and know their stuff.
The second panel focused around the topics of finding funding and how to cope in the downturn market.
The panelists (from left to right):
Helene Auramo, CEO and partner of Zipipop
Heikki Mäkijärvi, Venture parter of Accel Partners
Mohamed El-Fatatry, Founder and CEO of Muxlim
Joakim Achrén, founder of IronStar Helsinki
Kristoffer Lawson from Scred
The panel kicked off going through the current status of the startups - Scred and Zipipop are bootstrapping and looking for funding. Mohamed told Muxlim got very well seed money from Finnish angels, which are quite active and willing to help, but for big rounds the money is difficult to get and momentum can be lost. Muxlim run through 500 international VCs in 6 months, and finally landed with one from Sweden.
Regarding the economy, Heikki from Accel Partners encouraged startups to look critically their business in the current economic situation - if the customers are not buying, it may be worthwhile to stop and rethink the business plan, rather than waiting for a sale or better times. They've had very good experiences of startups finding a great business model by refocusing this way.
Heikki also commented they are being more careful about the investments currently. He argued in the early stage companies the team is the most important thing, so that the investors can trust the team knowing what they're doing. Heikki also went on explaining one notable difference with Finnish startups compared to Silicon Valley is in the executive team. The ideas are typically good, but the executive teams are much more juvenile than in the Valley, whereas the board is typically very experienced. So Heikki would rather see people like the board members doing the execution, mentioning he'd like to see people learning business in big global firms, and then establishing startups in their 40s. He explained while you can build a good startup regardless of your age, in the end it will take great skill in execution to take a startup from 5 Million to 10M, and futher to 50M in revenues.
Jussi Laakkonen, CEO of Everyplay, has done extensive research in terms of investments to the gaming industry in the recent years. We also covered Jussi's previous findings in ArcticStartup close to two months ago when he reported that approximately 2 to 4 million USD are invested into the casual gaming market each week.
Jussi has compiled a nice 2 blog post analysis into the market with discoveries such as investments peaking in July 2008 to the amount of 71M USD in total to the industry. He has also added the MMORPG market to the analysis. It's clear that the two largest segments in the gaming industry, receiving funding are the MMORPG and the casual gaming segments.
So with regards to my previous post on Betware from Iceland, I asked whether we should cover the gaming industry more, a clear answer from you was - yes, please. We'll get more insight into this industry in the future as the market is one of the most attractive ones in many ways, not only investments, at this moment.
Photo by A*A*R*O*N (CC:by-nc-sa)
Laakkonen has compiled the list from public resources such as VentureBeat, TechCrunch, GigaOm, etc. He admits that there are possibly a lot of investments missing as they based on PR, which naturally works best in the US.
From the Nordics and Baltics, in the list are investments to Apaja Online Entertainment and Sulake, so I'm guessing there are many more smaller seed investments made to smaller Nordic and Baltic companies which aren't present in the list.
What's your take - is the casual gaming market the hottest corner of the internet industry at the moment?