Badland, a premium mobile game title from Finnish developer Frogmind, was first launched onto the App Store back in April. Now as the year draws to a close the game has been released for Android and Blackberry and we've spotted an interesting new development in its monetization strategy.
Well, more specifically they gave one big hug to the Helsinki based NordicHug. The company that is making touchscreen wipes out of berries, without using any alcohol. The news was already featured in the Helsinki Sanomat, and we reached out to Dmitry Genin, the CEO of NordicHug for more information.
The unique selling point of NordicHug is the fact that they use Arctic cloudberry based formula, which allows to clean the screens without using any alcohol. This is supposed to not only get rid of the bacteria but also leave the protective coating intact.
For those big LEGO fans out there, news from Comic Con last week was the announcement of two new Minecraft kits. We previously reported on the partnership in January 2012 and since then LEGO have released the CUUSOO set. The Village and Nether sets are to be released from the beginning of September. This begs us to ask whether we are seeing games companies move back to tangible objects to sell their brand? Lydia Winters, Mojang's director of fun said, "Given our similarities, Minecraft and LEGO building have always been a great match," adding further, "After the excitement over the first set, we were delighted to extend the line and continue our partnership with The LEGO Group."
Ever since writing our, Rovio's $42M Investment In 2011 Actually Went To Its Owners, we've been curious about the Angry Birds creator's ownership structure. What's most defining of the structure is is Kaj Hed's near 70% ownership through Trema International Holdings, followed by Niklas Zennström's Atomico Ventures and Accel Partners at roughly 10%.
In May's financial records, Accel Partners seemed to drop off and a new name was added to the list - Silavano Investments. Accel Partner Kevin Comolli tells Elina Lappalainen of the Finnish business weekly TalousElama that Accel has not sold shares, pointing that Luxembourg-based Silavano is owned by Accel.
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.
Accel Partners yesterday closed a €367 Million fund to focus on Europe and Israel. With Accel London IV, the firm will invest in early-stage and growth stage companies in the consumer Internet, big data, cloud, SaaS and mobile.
The Nordics are a big focus of Accel's new fund, as they seek to focus on their success with Rovio, Supercell, Spotify, and QlikTech, whose listing on NASDAQ resulted in a return of over $400 million to the Accel fund - one of the largest venture returns in Europe.
If there's anything Rovio knows, it's how to get their brand out there. Well, they make some fun games as well, but they reach a massive amount of eyeballs across mobile apps, Facebook, Smart TVs, and so on. It all comes down to the "all the screens" strategy that Rovio CMO Peter Vesterbacka has famously promoted for the Espoo-based company. The result is a massive fan base and high engagement. Rovio's Youtube channel has over 1 billion views. And last December Rovio announced it had over 1 billion downloads with 263 million monthly active users.
Now Rovio has put out a press release with the title "Rovio Moving Towards Digital Advertising," which seems to say nothing more than "we hired a bunch of senior advertising people, and we're looking for brands."
Remember last year when there were rumors of Rovio IPOing in Hong Kong or some Asian market? Well scratch that because they might be doing enough in revenue to give them little benefit in raising money. How much are they moving? Maybe about $2.4 Billion last year, depending on who you're listening to.
The media is reporting that Vesterbacka said Rovio did revenue of about $3 billion over the last three years. Marketwatch does the math that the company must have done $2.4 Billion in 2012, given that the Espoo-based company did $550 million in 2011, and $50 million in 2010.
Rovio has launched a 48 hour competition to win signed and personalized prints of the new Angry Birds All Star Athletes posters featuring NBA All-Star player, Andrew Bynum and NHL All-Star player and Stanley Cup Champion, Anze Kopitar. The competition on the Angry Birds blog is only able to be won in the United States, making this news item uninteresting to the majority of our readers. But what is noteworthy is that the imagery on the blogs are tagged with Kiosked's technology, allowing anyone to hover over the photos and be led to an Amazon store, where they can purchase these posters or other Angry Birds gear.
This partnership shows the ties between the two Finnish companies. Last June, Kiosked raised €4.5 million in funding in a round led by Kaj Hed, the majority investor in Rovio who held a 69.7% stake in Rovio Entertainment a year ago.
Boomlagoon, a company formed by Antti Stén (Ex-Rovio Lead Server Architect) and Tuomas Erikoinen (Ex-Rovio Lead Game Artist, yes, he drew the Angry Birds) just received a round of funding by a rather impressive duo - Jari Ovaskainen and a seasoned games investor London Venture Partners, represented by David Gardner.
Ovaskainen was the founder of Iobox, which was sold to Telefonica for €215m while David Gardner is best known for being the former CEO of Atari, and EVP & COO of Electronic Arts. Notably, they both invested in Supercell as well.
Rovio has become synonymous with Finnish mobile gaming. And for good reason. It's undeniable they've built an empire and completely raised the bar of what a mobile game can accomplish. But taking a look at the charts, it's getting harder to sideline Helsinki-based Supercell's success in gaming, no matter if they don't get quite the same media bump of a red Angry Birds sweatshirt.
Right now, Rovio has pushed out the three iterations of Angry Birds, Angry Birds Space in March, Amazing Alex in July, and Bad Piggies just this past week. Supercell meanwhile has Hay Day, which launched in June, and Clash of Clans, which launched in August.
Last year, Rovio did about €75.4 million in revenue. About 30% of this came from different merchandise sales. The rest of the revenue flowed in through the sale of digital content and advertising in its Angry Birds games. Wall Street Journal interviewed Lisa Shamus, EVP of Commonwealth Toy & Novelty, a family business that creates plush toys for children. Shamus in the article shares that they sold about $200 million worth of Angry Birds merchandise to retailers. She continues to state that they are on track to sell $400 million worth of Angry Birds merchandise for this year.
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).
Rovio's new physics puzzle game, Amazing Alex, hits the streets today in a pivotal moment in the company's history. Rovio has proved that they can print money all day around the Angry Birds concept, but if the company truly wants to IPO and create a media empire, they need to prove to investors they can do a much bigger reach than Angry Birds Space. Amazing Alex looks like a familiar concept, but still interesting for a new and wider audience. Players create chain reactions between various toys, like balloons, dump trucks, and other interactive objects to collect floating gold stars and complete tasks.
The game will launch with 100 levels, where players will have ample opportunity to use 35 interactive objects to create Rube Goldberg style contraptions. The game will also be more social, in the sense that fans can create their own levels and share them with friends or anyone else in the world.
Without getting our hands on the game yet, I imagine it's wise for Rovio to stay within the physics game genre. Angry Birds' real strength was that it gave users a natural sense of how the various birds would interact with the pigs' shoddily built houses, while still keeping a large element of surprise. Without breaking it down too much, Amazing Alex seems fairly similar to Angry Birds at that level. A player lines up and releases some stimulus into the game world, and then waits in anticipation to see if everything was as lined up as hoped, and if not, there's still the chance that the player will get lucky. Angry Birds does this game mechanic very well, and Angry Birds Space proved they can get a little crazier with the concept, while still making it fun.
Yesterday we revealed how Rovio's $42 million investment last year actually went to one or more of its founders, by the look of their financial statement that was filed with the Finnish authorities. We received a lot of feedback regarding that article through e-mail, but also in comments through other channels. The overall attitude seems to one of caution, that we should be careful for digging up information and discussing it in public.
This publication is all for growth entrepreneurship and we feel that the more discussion around these topics we have, with the right attitude and manner of course, the better off the Northern European startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem will be.
Rovio is not a taboo that should not be discussed. It's one of the best things that has happened to the Finnish startup ecosystem in a long time. The execution of its vision will become a case study for future MBAs on how to go about global growth. Believing that if we gave successful companies peace and quiet as media, and thus avoiding studying them in detail, in the fear of damaging the company's future potential is at best superstition.
In early May, Rovio came out with their financial results for 2011. Today, the National Board of Patents and Registration Of Finland has received Rovio's official financial filing for the year 2011. One would expect that there is no news value in the filing since Rovio already came out with their results prior to this, but it shows a big discrepancy regarding the company's funding situation. In early March last year, the company announced it has raised a $42 million round from Accel Partners, Atomico Ventures as well as Felicis Ventures.
$42 million is about €32.85 million in today's exchange rate. This €30+ million is however missing from Rovio's financial statement for 2011, which begs an answer to the question:
Who did the money go to and why did Rovio feel the need to announce a funding round when it clearly wasn't one?
Rovio must have had to carefully analyse many different alternatives for the first successor of Angry Birds as that would truly begin to label them as an multi-brand entertainment company. Today, Angry Birds brings in over €75 million in revenue for the company, but due to the nature of the games industry, being a hit business, that revenue will be hard to keep up over the years. To further grow and really get closer to a meaningful IPO, Rovio must differentiate its offering successfully.
Earlier this year the company announced they will be releasing a non-Angry Birds game as well. It is this game that will begin to determine how good Rovio really is. Sarah Lacy's book, which looked at the ability of serial entrepreneurs to create successful companies one after another, titled "Once you're lucky, twice you're good", applies well to this situation.
Rovio has today announced their 2011 financial results on their own website. Their 2011, full year, revenue is €75.4 million with earnings before tax €48 million (64% of total revenue). The financial results are definitely strong and in the expected ball park. In the last six months of 2010, Rovio's revenue was around €5 million. Most of the money came in from digital purchases, downloads and add-ons to games. Around 30% fo the income came from sales of merchandise.
In 2011 the total number of game downloads grew to 648 million, while the total number of active monthly users grew to 200 million across all platforms. Rovio launched Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio in 2011 across different mobile platforms and PC operating systems.
Rovio's head of animation, Nick Dorra, spoke at the MIPTV conference in Cannes where he announced Rovio will begin producing weekly short form animations, The Guardian reports. Each episode should last two-and-a-half to three minutes each, and will likely be released on a new video app. Rovio acquired the Finnish animation studio, Kombo in June of 2011 to begin creating their media content.
Rovio, the creators of Angry Birds, has announced today the acquisition of the game development arm of Futuremark - Futuremark Game Studios. The news were announced just now in a press release put out by Rovio. Futuremark is the parent company that owns Futuremark Game Studios, but also the one that has developed one of the most popular benchmarking software applications out there.
“They are an incredibly talented and experienced team, and we are thrilled to have them on board,” said Mikael Hed, Rovio Entertainment’s CEO. “Rovio’s success is founded on the excellence of our team, and Futuremark Games Studio is going to be a superb addition.”
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.
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.
Rovio's Chief Marketing Officer, also known as the Mighty Eagle, has come out with figures regarding Rovio's financials in an interview by Tekniikka & Talous, a Finnish newspaper. In the interview, he also said Rovio is looking to IPO in Hong Kong in 2013. In 2010 Rovio's revenue was around $10 million. This year the company expects its turnover to be around $100 million.
Rovio has teamed up with Lappset, a manufacturer of park and playground equipment, to build officially licensed Angry Birds activity parks for children. The first activity parks will pop up early next year in Finland, but it comes as no suprise that Rovio’s plan is to introduce these ”Angry Birds Magic Places” in every corner of the world.
CMO Peter Vesterbacka says that Rovio will not build large amusement parks in style of the previously seen Chinese knock-offs. The company wants to engage kids in activity rather than force them to wait in line for 15 minutes in order to enjoy a two minute ride. The new Angry Birds parks will also include in-game features that will bring the game and the physical world together.
It might seem like I've began a holy war against other media corporations out there, but no - I'm just trying to prove how ridiculous the media business is online and just how far it will go for a few more eyeballs. This case in my opinion is a perfect example of such an activity where certain laws become secondary. On December 6th Finland celebrated its independence day and the Finnish president invited the most successful people from various walks of life to the Presidential Palace for a gala evening. This year Peter and Teija Vesterbacka also were invited due to Peter Vesterbacka's work as the CMO of Rovio. Teija Vesterbacka wore a red dress for the evening that had design concepts from one of the birds in the mobile game Angry Birds.
All this caused a huge stir online as a result of numerous blogs and media sites showing the dress in a photograph. It's all good publicity for Teija and Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio and Finland except for tiny detail - all of the international outlets that published the picture of the couple walking down the isle, did so illegally.
10 billion mobile ad impressions a month is a huge number of ads served across mobile platforms. It's hard to believe, but Rovio has claimed to be the largest mobile ad publisher of the world-- which includes beating Google, which has its ads running on all mobile applications and search results. It's impressive but tough to digest.
Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds has already invaded all known platforms like Apple iOS, Android, Windows, Chrome browser and so on. It currently boasts 500 million downloads on all the available platforms, which makes the claim of 10 billon ad impressions a month believable. Peter Vesterbacka, Chief Marketing Officer of Rovio has been very vocal about this and even voicing plans on creating a new advertising method. We saw this happen with the release of Angry Birds Rio campaign that acted as a massive promotion for Rio the movie.
The third annual European Tech Startup Awards (Europas) were held in London last night. Quite a few Nordic and Baltic startups made the list of finalists in several categories again this year and over 40 000 public votes were cast to aid the advisory board in selecting the winners.
Nordic/Baltic highlights from this year's awards included iZettle (winner of Best Commerce, Finance or Payments Startup), Podio (winner of Best Business or Enterprise Startup) and Endomondo (winner of Best Sports, Leisure or Health Startup). Rovio's flock of Angry Birds took home The Europas Hero Award for "kicking ass globally from Europe". Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss of SoundCloud (originally from Sweden) were also named the best founders/co-founders of the year. The Grand Prix Award went to UK-based Peer Index.
I managed to grab Peter Vesterbacka for a few minutes at Slush today to talk about how Angry Birds sees the world after 500 million downloads. Basically, there's a lot more out there for them to grab than one would expect - simply looking at them what they've done so far. Everyone knows that the company is looking to grow into an entertainment empire, but in my opinion they're already there. They're not just as big yet, even though they are.
We got an exclusive tip from the Mighty Eagle himself, that Rovio will be announcing something new at this year's Slush. The tip held through, as Mikael Hed, the CEO of the company made the announcement on stage through a video; Angry Birds has now been downloaded more than 500 million times. That's one hell of a milestone.
Only a little over a year ago, the company announced that they will try to reach 100 million downloads in 12 months. How wrong they were (and how crazy we all thought they were).