Big news coming out from Britain. Passion Capital, a new investment company has just announced that they've closed a $60 million fund from both private investors as well as the UK government. Private investors put in $20 million and the British government upped the ante with a $40 million. Passion Capital features three partners, Stefan Glaenzer, Eileen Burbidge and Robert Dighero. The trio is among the most high profile angel investors in Europe.
I've been longing for a service like Last.fm, but for movies, for quite some time already. To my surprise, I had an e-mail waiting in my inbox last week regarding such a service. It's called Filmgator and it's still in beta, but the service works in the way you'd expect it to. FilmGator is a Finnish startup, based in Helsinki. The service aims to answer the question: "What are people watching?"
Even though Skype is not a startup anymore, I believe there is a great story behind this news item. Wall Street Journal has written about Skype, how they are under pressure from eBay stockholders to create more revenue or be sold off. Reports show that Skype has hit 400 million users and has created some $145 million in revenues during the first quarter of 2009.
Sten Tamkivi told us in Tallinn this January that they have seen a rise in Skype usage as the recession hit the finance markets. Seems the figures support this strongly. Even though Skype has been built as a consumer product they are under pressure to create more revenue for their owners. One of the new areas they are targeting is the business communication industry as well as moving into the territory of other Nordic VoIP companies such as Rebtel.
This is the best news coming from Sweden since Abba - Spotify has enabled scrobbling. Scrobbling means Spotify now supports integration to Last.fm. This is indeed very big news as Last.fm has a huge community of music lovers that have until lately been left out with using Spotify. I'm one of them and this move has made my iTunes usage totally obsolete.
To enable scrobbling, go to Spotify's preferences and add your last.fm details there. Just to make sure, close the program and launch it once more and you're set.
Why is this such a big deal? There are at least two reasons. Firstly, Last.fm has a huge music community that love Last.fm and want their listened music to be added to the service to find new music in the future, which is the second reason. One of the benefits of Last.fm is the possibility find new music through your peers by matching your musical taste to theirs and for this you need a relatively extensive list of listened songs.
However, there lies a larger possibility here for Spotify. By allowing the usage of third party applications or plugins in conjunction with Spotify, they are creating a healthy developer community that will take the service to new levels. This is one of the reasons why Twitter has been so popular as developers have been able to make use of the service exactly in the way they have wanted to, creating more traction for Twitter itself - something all web companies are looking for.
Spotify, a Swedish startup offering a lightweight software application enabling on demand streaming of music, has opened up its service for public.
Earlier on we wrote about rumor that Spotify had raised €15m round from various investors. Last week I received a confirmation that Creandum and Northzone Ventures has invested undisclosed sum to the Swedish startup (more bout this here).
It's no wonder the startup is investors' latest darling as it just recently signed significant licensing deals with Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, EMI Music, Warner Music Group, Merlin, The Orchard and Bonnier Amigo.
The service launched on October 7th 2008 in UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Throughout the remainder of this year and into 2009 Spotify will be rolled out to further markets.
Spotify offers three different subscription models: Free, Day Pass and Premium accounts. Day pass cost you just under one pound sterling for 24 hours whereas the Premium account costs you 9.99 pound sterling a month. Free account is advertising funded, but if you have received your free account via an invitation already earlier on as I did, chances are you don't need to deal with any advertising yet. Advertisers that have signed up to be included from the launch include Ford, T-Mobile and Xbox.
In comparison, the service is better than any other music service I have seen so far. Spotify allows you to share songs and playlists with friends, and even work together on collaborative playlists. It will also recommend music you might like based on what you've listened so far. To my delight it also seems to do the recommendation very accurately to match my taste. Martin Varsavsky used a fitting analogies for the service.
[...] Spotify is like iTunes but with on-demand. It’s like Joost, but for music! It´s like Pandora without the need to vote and with your ability to listen to music anytime you want. It´s like Last FM without the community.
The only downside was that some of the current users saw many of the songs on their playlists disappear as Spotify cleaned their playlist to reflect the current copyright agreements that they have been able to push through. Regardless, I think this is a minor disappointment and the users will possible see many of the songs reappear as Spotify tries to get more record labels behind them.
You can also post and vote on your favorite playlist Digg-style at Spotylist. Spotylist also allows you to find new playlists that others have posted via simple links. I already found two good ones just from the blog comments.
The fact that another service has already build its own offering on Spotify's core product is a solid example that there is something very special about this service. Forget Last.fm, go Spotify!
Just over one week to go to SIME Helsinki event held in Teatteri. The reason we are mentioning this is of course the fact that you will receive a discount of 20% with the code arcticstartup when registering for your ticket. SIME Helsinki is held on the 17th of September.
I'll be present there and will be doing some interviews as well as blogging about the event at ArcticStartup of course. Do let us know if you are coming, would be nice to meet up!