The late 2012 shakeup over at Helsinki-based Sulake, the creators of Habbo Hotel, has been breeding new game companies. For those not versed in the comany's history, Sulake saw good international success for years with Habbo Hotel, a sort of virtual chat and game platform for teens. But that came crashing down in late 2012 when UK's Chanel 4 began calling the company a pedophile haven for failing to police the platform for sexual content. This caused Balderton Capital to exit their 13% share, and 3i to later leave their 16% stake. The company was eventually acquired by Elisa.
A group of ex-Sulake key names have announced a €547,000 ($740,000) funding round to their new venture, Small Giant Games, a developer of - you guessed it - free to play games for iOS and Android. Their first game has been in development for the last six months and is approaching alpha stage. "We're really excited how the game is shaping up. It will introduce unique gameplay elements to a familiar genre, in a fun rescue story setting," says CEO Otto Nieminen.
If you were to invent the concept of a phone call today, would it look the same as it does right now? After being the CEO of Sulake (the company behind Habbo Hotel) for around ten and a half years, Timo Soininen decided he wanted to do something other than "sell pixels the rest of his life." Mid-September last year, he started building a team and formed Sunduka. The company's first product, called Ringi, fits into Soininen's vision of creating engagement marking tools for companies. But for consumers it seems like a logical update to how phone calls work.
"If you think about the history of mobile calls, for the past 40 years phone calls have not changed at all," Soininen explains. "When the GSM standards were devised years ago, that people simply forgot to include visual elements in a call. Back then you had tiny black-and-white screens, but in the last five years the world has become very visual."
After leading Sulake for 10 years, Timo Soininen, steps down from the position of CEO and joins the board of directors, according to a Sulake press release. The board of directors has named Paul LaFontaine the new CEO. He was previously the vice president for Global Distribution at Disney Playdom. Timo Soininen has effectively taken the company from a small startup in the turn of the millenium to a multi-million euro business globally. Sulake is famous for its Habbo Hotel, online social community for teens. This March we reported on Sulake's revenues growing more than 20% from 2009 to 2010.
Sulake has today announced their figures for fiscal year 2010, as well as some changes to their ownership of online properties. In 2010, Sulake turned over 56,2 million euros, which is over 20% more than in 2009. EBITDA for 2010 was at 5,4 million euros profit for the year was at 1,6 million euros. In addition to announcing their financials, Sulake has stated that they have today sold IRC-Gallery to Somia Reality Oy, which is run by a few former IRC-Gallery employees and funded by Lifeline Ventures and a few individual investors.
We'll be testing something new today as we'll be live blogging the IBP Camp Helsinki from Korjaamo. The event will feature really interesting speakers such as Andreas Ehn and Timo Soininen. IBP Camp Helsinki's official after party, ArcticEvening Helsinki will take place starting at 6pm. We won't be able to live blog that, but this is something we'll test for the future too. Do take part in the conversation and let us know if you'd like to ask us any questions from the speakers.
Habbo Hotel has registered one hundred millonth member. The user account was created in the UK. M&M, a Finnish marketing and advertising medium, has also stated in their news that in the five and half months of this year about 20 million new characters were created (3,5+ million a month).
M&M also reports on business figures (well, proportional at least). Sulake's May 2008 is 20% bigger in terms of revenue than in May 2007. It is also said to be positive, making this year the first profitable one.
Kauppalehti, a Finnish business daily, reported yesterday that Sulake's CEO, Timo Soininen, is planning to take the company public. According to Mr. Soininen the earlierst possible date for the listing would be sometime next year.
Soininen thinks Sulake starts to be big enough for an IPO. Soininen's comments takes place after Sulake was valued 9th in Alley Insider valuation (at 25 times revenues) for digital startups. Read more on the story here.
Soinen added that Sulake is profitable and aims to a 20 percent increase in turnover this year. Last year's turnover was 43 million euro.
Despite the Alley Insider estimation Soininen himself refuses to comment on his company's valuation.