There are rumours circulating the web that Nokia is to acquire Dopplr. Rumours started when TechCrunch posted a post on this. Nokia apparently moved in for the scoop when Dopplr was looking for a round of financing. The supposed price Nokia paid is between 10 and 15 million euros.
Despite having its headquarters in London, the company is very much based in Finland. Inoa, one of the free registries to Finnish companies, state that the board members are Marko Ahtisaari, Matt Biddulph, Tyler Brule, Saul Klein and the board is directed by Lisa Sounio.
Dopplr, a part Finnish intention sharing online service that let's you see who of your friends are also in town you visit, announced that Marko Ahtisaari, formerly the head of Blyk's Brand & Design, has been appointed Dopplr's new CEO. The appointment will be effective 1st January, 2009. Ahtisaari is also a founding investors in Dopplr.
Dopplr's current CEO, Lisa Sounio, who is also in a relationship with Mr. Ahtisaari, will step down from the CEO position to act as Dopplr's Chairman of the board. Sounio has run her other company, a design strategy and PR agency Sonay, alongside Dopplr. Thus, effectively dividing her time between the two. This is probably partly the reason for her stepping down when Dopplr is gathering speed and thus needs a full time commitment. Another reason is very likely the second round of financing that Dopplr just received. To stir the pot, Blyk also just landed a major investment, which surely plays a part in the new arrangement along with the others.
As one of the Dopplr's investor's Martin Varsavsky said (video interview here) that the company does not currently have a clear business model. It remains to be seen whether Ahtisaari will drive the company in a new direction that will bring a clear business model with it. The new round of investors might be anxious to see even a theoretical return for their invesment in the current economic climate and be less willing to see one of their portfolio companies just building user base without any hope of a real cash flow.
Dopplr, the Helsinki and London based startup, has secured second round financing from a very admirable group of investors including Esther Dyson, Tyler Brûlé, Thomas Glocer, Yat Siu, Aditya dev Sood, Lars Hinrichs, Joshua Schachter, Brian Behlendorf, Ami Hasan, Daniel Sachs, Joshua Cooper Ramo, Kim Weckström, and Azeem Azhar. Saul Klein, who invested in this round, also invested in the previous round together with Martin Varsavsky, Reid Hoffman and Joichi Ito.
“Dopplr is leading the way in intention sharing services online. It is valuable to know where your trusted friends and colleagues will be, and where you could meet them next,” said Lisa Sounio, CEO of Dopplr. “Partner brands on Dopplr will also give you relevant information and offers tailored to you. For example, when you tell Dopplr your plans to go to Hong Kong, you might get the latest intelligence from Monocle and offers from boutique hotels picked by Mr and Mrs Smith.”
Despite seeing a lot of attention from both the press and investors, there are some questions that people look answers for. One cannot miss the (despite somewhat questionable) data from Compete.com. According to Compete.com, Dopplr reached just over 50k UVs in August. If you're making money from commissions on hotel bookings and such, you need a lot more traffic to make the business model work and therefore focusing on such a small group of people travelling so much might be difficult. Furthermore, Mike Butcher at Techcrunch UK makes a solid point about the dilution of ownership with so many investors. It could be that once you get enough popular investors on board, the odds of you failing are smaller as these investors are looking forwards to making a return (hence they echo the name as much as possible).
Having these questions answered would be interesting, but nevertheless you have to give it to the Dopplr team for getting financed in such a tight market - we haven't heard that many similar stories lately.
I attended the Parteco picnic today, organised by Katri Lietsala and Esa Sirkkunen, who ran the Participatory Economy and Beyond -research project. It was a good event with old media companies slowly turning to social media (which I have to say shouldn't be done only for social media's sake).
I also heard some good rumours regarding the Finnish startup scene. First of all, regarding Dopplr - Marko Ahtisaari, Lisa Sounio and Taneli Tikka have left, or are leaving the company to continue to new challenges. Taneli Tikka is currently very active with his new startup RunToShop, which is creating some buzz among Finnish startups. The moves at the moment are not official, but there is a lot of buzz around that.
Juha Huttunen of Tripsay was also nodding towards August with regards to their official launch. Therefore we'll have to wait a few more months before we will be able to see the service they are coming out with. I understand they are currently making final moves towards the launch.
Last, but not least - rumour or not - the Iron Sky movie, followup to the largest Finnish movie ever distributed - StarWreck, will be launched in 2010. Currently the script is being finetuned for the "investment round" that will be a few million euros and that will begin during the end of this year.
However, there was a lot of positive talk among the startups there regarding various issues and I also received a lot of great ideas regarding our next event.
Taneli Tikka, former Managing Director of Dynamoid (IRC-Galleria), has joined the online travel service Dopplr. Tikka joins Dopplr as their new Chief Operating Officer. Dopplr is an online travel network, where you can share your travels with friends who are connected to you. The catch is that when travelling frequently, you often find only afterwards that some of your friends were simultaneously visiting the same city.
Lisa Sounio, the Managing Director of Dopplr writes in their blog, "with his experience in building and scaling social media businesses, Taneli is a great addition to our international team."