Nordic highlights from May 2018 - facts, figures and other notable news.
Month 5 of the year 2018 and the Scandinavian investment ecosystem started to get to a somewhat normal pace of funding announcements.
- We recorded 77 investments for the May 2018 and the number is still lower than last year (89 in May 2017 for the Nordics) and overall, including 15 deals already in the database for June, we're about 200 investments short in the first half of the year, compared to the first half of 2017.
- Interestingly enough, we would need about 130 more investments to be announced for the rest of June so that we would be at the same level with 2016 for the entire half year of 2018. In June 2016 there were 80 investments, in June 2017 there were 87.
- Specifically, we tracked 77 investments in the Nordics for the May 2018, with 44 only in Sweden. Sweden about the same, 47, the previous year in May, with more than the total number of investments tracked for all the other countries in the region.
- 15 investments $3M+ out of a total of 34 investments $1M+. 16 had undisclosed financial details.
- 21 investments in the $1-5M range, 13 in $.5M- 1M, and 12 less than $500k.
- All data and graphs available for digging here.
- Most active investors: Business Finland and Almi (each w/ 3), Draper & Associates (Cobalt and Iceye), Vaekstfonden, ByFounders, Stefan Lenhammer, DNB, Icebreaker, JNE Invest, Hampus Jakobsson and Capnova, all with 2 investment rounds each.
What caught our attention
- Storytel, a Swedish audio book provider with about 500k subscribers, launched its own tablet - Storytel Reader. The tablet is positioned to compete directly with Kindle and will be avaialble for about SEK 1000 ($130) in Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Looks like an intriguing strategy in the context of a large, content captive audience, where you could leverage a bit of network effect in order to increase the ARPU. It's still a small local play, but one could argue that they could make for an interesting scale case.
- There's a little robotics hub in Odense, called Odense Robotics Hub, which claims to be home to more than 120 companies and more than 3,200 specialists innovating within robotics and automation. Since 2015, 10 robotics startups have completed the Hub’s accelerator programme, securing more than DKK 40 million of capital and investment.
- And speaking of Odense and Robotics - a couple of months ago, the Americans from Teradyne purchased Denmark-based Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR) for about $279M, a second acquisition after paying $285M for Universal Robots, the Danish pioneer of collaborative robots.
- Other Odense-based robotics companies not yet acquired are Kubo and Multi Tower Robot. And if this opens up your robotics appetite, up North, still in Denmark in the Aalborg region there's two more interesting companies: Intelligent Marking and Blue Workforce (Chinese already investors in this one)
- There's been a bit of a public soap opera in the Swedish tech world these days, specifically at Zound Industries, a local headphone manufacturer which also licenses and sells under Marshall brand. In short, one of the founders and the company's investors disagreed upon the strategic future of the company and the former tried to take over the company with an outside group of investors. The founder was ultimately kicked out the company, because, well, he disclosed information he shouldn't have. And now, of course, there's all sorts of conspiracy theories.
- The Swedish Football Association, SvFF, tips its toes into e-sport and will launch an unofficial national team.
- Hitta.se and Thatsup started working together. The local business recommendations space is interesting and with plenty of growing potential, more or less unaffected by the big tech companies in Scandinavia. Hitta, one of the oldest local directory portal, was repurchased from Schibsted by a group of seasoned entrepreneurs in 2017. Thatsup is probably the best city guide in Stockholm, managed by Adam Linder, a young entrepreneur recently involved in a strategic exit of another startup.
- Schibsted stops all Google advertising in Sweden. About time local media brands start recognizing that Google and Facebook will never ever be their business partners.
- By 2017, Google had estimated revenues of 3.4 billion DKK in Denmark and paid 4.4 million DKK in taxes. By comparison, the largest private Danish news publisher, JP / Politikens Hus had a turnover of 2.8 billion and paid 58.2 million DKK in taxes. That is 13 times as much as Google.
- Zenith listed its funds separately at the regulated trading venue NDX and wants to go public and raise SEK 700M next year. For this they restructrured a bit their organisation in Zenith Group, managing three investment strategies under the same umbrella: Venture Capital, Growth and Real Estate. They started from Varenne, which was an all-purpose investment vehicle launched circa 2014, and then launched Zenith Venture Capital AB (2015 - also named 13 for a while) and Zenith Venture Capital II AB (2016), both focusing on earlier investment stages than Varenne.
- Goodbye Kansas also wants to list on the stock exchange. Beisdes their creative services core competence (they have 150 artists in studios in Stockholm, London and Hamburg), those guys quietly made 9 investments in local gaming startups for the past couple of years, providing them with seed capital and business resources in order to help them go to market.
- This startup (Coala Life) has as main PR strategy participating in startup competitions. Head shaker for more experienced entrepreneurs, who rather find this as a big distraction from the main thing, which is building the company.
- Anybody venture to guess how many software developers are there in the Nordics? 433,711
- Founders Factory, an early stage organisation based in UK and which incubates and accelerates startup ideas for big corporations, is looking for an International Scout in the Nordics - basically they want one or more angel investors or VC employees working part time to qualify lead investments for them each month. This definitely doesn't sound like a part time job (they pay 1 day a week of work plus success fee), but can work ok since people around here love consulting side gigs.
- It looks like the subsidies for the electric bicycles may dry out in Sweden quite soon. Including the subsidies, an electric bike can be more expensive than a normal scooter in Sweden, and we're still waiting for the electric scooter craziness spillover from the US, which should make for interesting challenges in the near future.
- Copenhagen and Malmo want to build the ‘first international metro in the world’. The public transport infrastructure in the Nordics is simply outstanding.
- Swedish authorities will make the streets safe with geofencing, by creating the infrastructure for connected and automated vehicles. In May 2018 they tested automatic bus driving in different environmental zones and areas at different speeds, changing the power line for electric power and prevented the bus from driving at higher speeds than allowed.
- In the meantime, Swedes also are testing an electric road in the vicinity of Arlanda airport.
- AirBnB negotiated a historic deal with Danish Ministry of Taxation, agreeing that user deals will automatically be reported to taxation authorities. That is a worldwide first. Meanwhile in Sweden, there were 350 people fined for failing to report Airbnb related taxes to the authorities, and had to pay a total of SEK 12 million ($1.4M) and in addition, a further SEK 2.8 million has been imposed on criminal charges. According to AirBnB, 180,000 guests rented in apartments in Stockholm in 2017, where the average renter received SEK 23k ($2.7k) a year.
-The police in Denmark has a database of almost 130,000 DNA profiles and they actively share it with their Swedish counterpart.
- Norwegian Airlines will stop its flights to Oakland and Las Vegas because of the Sweden's new aviation tax.
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