So what exactly do they do? That is a tough one, unless you understand the intricacies of MySQL, relationship databases and forks. Not the ones you eat with, but the software development kind. Basically MariaDB is an independent copy of MySQL (fork) that was started by ex-MySQL execs over concerns that Oracle, who acquired MySQL, might take unexpected directions with the development.
MariaDB was started by Monty Program AB from Sweden but they later merged with SkySQL in April 2013, and by doing so - reunited the key members of the original MySQL AB team.
SkySQL a Finnish provider of affordable MySQL & MariaDB database solutions, has announced that it has raised $4 million (€3 million) in Series A investments. The funding round was led by Finnish Industry Investments Ltd. (a government-own venture capital company), as well as Spintop Ventures, Open Ocean Capital, and U.S.-based OnCorps.
SkySQL serves customers such as ATOS Worldline, Canal+, Deutsche Telekom, ClubMed, Lotte.com, La Poste, Constant Contact and Virgin Mobile, and has operations in Asia, Europe, and North America. The company provides products and support for both enterprise and cloud architecture, and one of its selling points is having original talent from MySQL AB.
Business Insider has gathered a list of 100 companies from all around the world (these lists are always skewed a little and it's almost impossible to make them globally valid). The list is naturally ranked with lots of US based startups, but quite a few Nordic ones are on the list as well. Company valuation is used to organise the companies.
Even though this blog post will most likely be a feeble attempt in covering the importance and the effect of Steve Blank's visit to Finland and the region last week - I'll still have an attempt at it. Last week was packed full of action and discussion where Steve Blank talked not only with entrepreneurs but politicians, MPs and academia. He also upped entrepreneurship a few notches on the editorial importance for some of Finland's newspapers as he talked to a group of editors-in-chief (including us) why entrepreneurship is of vital importance to nations' success.
Steve Blank was visiting Finland last week to promote the importance of a working entrepreneurial ecosystem to the region. I have a feeling his visit will go down in one of those turning points in history for this part of the world. Not only did he incite more flames into the "Finnish spring" as he referred to the entrepreneurial revolution taking place in Finland, but he did so in a manner that politicians, mainstream media and academics can understand.
Open Ocean Capital, founded by some of the individuals that invested into MySQL before it was later sold to Sun MIcrosystems, has raised its third fund - Fund Three. The amount was reached in the first closing. Open Ocean Capital looks to use the funds to invest into startups in "Europe and beyond", pretty much meaning there is no geographical restrictions on those who can apply.
In the previous post with Nexit Ventures we talked about the maths behind venture capital. In the post we basically outlined with the help of very basic level maths and assumptions why venture capitalists aim for ten fold returns on their investments. As the business of venture capital and risky investments is mainly a hit business, similar to the music industry - big hits and home runs are needed every time. In this light, there are a handful of companies in the region that have a huge significance to the valuation of the ecosystem itself.
Quora has become a great source of information for entrepreneurs, and pretty much anyone interested in a specific topic. In short, Quora is a well executed question and answer service that is currently in beta. WIth this, they've been able to choose who they want to let in while this in turn has helped them keep the quality of the answers very high. Another interesting aspect of the service that startups should take notice of, is the people they've managed to get on board. You can find lots of famous startup CEOs there answering questions and helping people understand more about their companies. Enough about Quora though. There was an interesting question in Quora regarding which Nordic companies make more than $10 million annually and Saul Klein had answered it. He answered a similar question about companies based in London that interested a lot of people, so it's definitely interesting to look into this as well.
‘’The markets are on the web, the production power is on the web, both globally available for everyone’’ Mårten Mickos, CEO, Eucalyptus Systems.
Let’s do a small intellectual play: Web 2.0 services, or the current generation’s internet companies globally, are built for the most part on top of the so-called LAMP-stack. In other words their infrastructure is based on Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP – a selection of open source software programs.
Just recently Mårten Mickos, former CEO of MySQL, joined Index Ventures as an entrepreneur-in-residence. He also serves in a similar position with Benchmark Capital in US. We of course welcome this as a positive news for the European entrepreneurship. But just a little earlier in January Fred Destin and the whole Atlas Ventures packed up and moved to Boston, leaving just enough staff to support to current European investments.
What is going on in Europe? Are we going to see the existing VC model literally disappear? Just last week I came back from DLD conference in Munich, Germany where I talked numerous people influential in the industry from Israel, London, New York and Zurich about the situation on the ground and most concurred that what we used to know as A-round-sized-VC-firms are becoming fewer and fewer. The smart ones are either going towards smaller deals and much more hands-on model or gravitating towards private equity sized funds (not least because of the hefty management fees) ...well, or moving to Boston.
The Nordics and Baltics are still very much a wild west when it comes to venture capital and building startups into real growth companies and all the way to the IPO dreamland.
All the countries have their peculiar histories when it comes to VC landscape and so does Finland. Will Cardwell, the CEO of Techopolis Ventures, wrote a very enlightening post called "Reeling in the last decade in Finnish VC" (here) on how the scene has developed in Finland what factors have influenced it.
Will starts out by saying that while there certainly are a lot of colorful stories, the thing that bothers him is the number of “success stories that got away. When assessing history track record he goes on to say that he emphasizes exits, since they are the only relevant measure of success for both growth entrepreneurial businesses or venture capital investing, and this area (exits) is precisely where Finnish companies have had the biggest challenges Cardwell's view. By looking at the figures one can't but agree.
The Finnish social gaming firm Ironstar Helsinki has announced appointing a new CEO Tiina Zilliacus and expanding its platform reach to Facebook. Ironstar Helsinki runs a social gaming world MoiPal, which up until now has been available on the web and as a downloadable mobile application. MoiPal has currently 200.000 registered users in Finland along some international ones, and is now looking to accelerate the international growth.
Monty Widenius, one of the founders of MySQL whom later made a successful $1B exit, has invested through Open Ocean Capital to MoiPal - Ironstar Helsinki's social gaming world. We previously told Monty investing into Against Intuition.
“I am excited to invest in the MoiPal world and help it grow even faster in the future”, says Monty. “I have always been interested in virtual worlds and seen how the communities around them continue to grow. The thing that really stands out to me with MoiPal, is the way it combines the social networking aspects similar to Facebook, with the caring of your online character, like you do with Tamagotchis or in games like Sims. I am looking forward to adding educational aspects into the game, so that players learn useful things while they play. When you combine this with open interfaces and engage developers out there to expand our world in their own directions, I think we can achieve something really Great!”
“We are thrilled to have Monty on board”, says Joakim Achrén, founder of Ironstar Helsinki. “The investment will give us a stable ground for growing MoiPal to the top league." With such strong words from the founder - it can be argued that the investment is in the seven-figures, even though it is not disclosed.
MoiPal has gathered some 120 000 members during its first year of operations. The company has some interesting innovation in the pipeline as well, they are adding open API's for developers to leverage on the sprites in the game as well an Open Social Application approach so anyone can participate in extending the virtual world.
It seems that during the last 12 months we've reported on a lot more investments from well known investors than during the boom times. Congrats to the MoiPal team for scoring an excellent investment and a resource that Monty definitely is.
Esa Suurio, one of the guys behind Web of Trust or WOT being developed by Against Intuition, tweeted about Michael "Monty" Widenius' investment into their company. Web of Trust produces a browser addon that keeps you acknowledged of unsafe websites, online scams, spyware, etc. The service works in a crowdsourced manner where by other web users rate websites and let other webusers know of unsafe web destinations. Esa Saario also told in his tweet that the addon has now been downloaded more than 3 million times.
Monty Widenius is one of the founders behind MySQL. He sold the company in January 2008 to SUN Microsystems for a billion dollars. It is one of the all time success stories of Nordic technology startups. Monty invested through his Open Ocean -venture company. The amount of the investment was not disclosed, but he will be taking a board of directors' seat with the investment. WOT does not disclose how the money will be spent.
Here's the second startup in a run down of startups that I saw at the Nordic Venture Forum last week in the beautiful city of Copenhagen, Denmark. All the startups present at the forum were seeking either financing from the investors or partners for their business.
Loanland (Sweden) - Loanland is a P2P marketplace for loans, offering customers & investors new financial opportunities.
Loanland is the first P2P (social) lending site in Sweden, offering the Swedish market a new alternative to banks and credit institutes where you can decide your own terms & conditions. It is not only an alternative for people looking for a loan (borrowers) but also for anyone looking for investment opportunities ( lenders).
Loanland claims to offer all of the following:
- Letting the customer set her own terms
- Direct access to the loan market
- The best interest rate in the market for borrowers & lenders(!)
- An alternative to banks, financial institutions, pawnshops and micro loans
- A new type of investment
The company is currently providing unsecured loans to the Swedish market. The Swedish market for unsecured loans to households amount to around 160 billion SEK (around 16 billion EUR or 20 billion USD) at present and with unsecured loans to SMEs the figure is about 500 billion SEK (around 50 billion EUR or 63 billion USD). The market has grown 15% annually during the last few years. Gartner Group has estimated the P2P lending to take 10 percent of the loan market by 2010.
Loanland's business model is based on a 'reversed auction' model, where the borrower creates a loan request defining the loan amount, duration of the loan and the maximum interest rate, and then the potential lenders bid downwards on the interest rate. For this process to happen smoothly, Loanland provides the market place and assists with administrating the market, credit rating, loan agreement, reports, payments and claims. In effect, Loanland makes its money by taking a setup fee and a transaction fee from the conducted loan transactions.
Loanland is using an open source platform that it has developed, automating most of the processes. The technology is based on Java, J2EE, MySQL, Tomcat, Spring and Hibernate. The platform and auction engine allows individual and automatic bidding, electronic signatures, integrated credit scoring and efficient payments.
The company launched in December 2007 and has already over 10 000 members and 5 000 registered borrowers and lenders. They have 6 million SEK (600K EUR or 750K USD) deposited out of which 95 percent is lend out as loans. Quite significant number considering that the startup operates currently only in Sweden.
This is exactly the right time to be a new type of financial service provider in the market when many of the economic underpinnings of the markets are tested and people are looking for alternatives for all the massive lehman brothers of the world. Loanland for its part is combining the financial industry with Web 2.0 and is allowing its customers to provide and impact content.
Many of the facts and figures are from the good people at Nordic Venture Forum.
Teemu had invested about 330 000 euros seven years ago into Holtron Capital Fund I, which is managed by Inventure Oy, according to the Finnish Venture Capital Association. The exit value for Teemu's initial investment was worth just over 1 million euros, according to Ilta-Sanomat.
Congrats to Teemu!