Genetic data platform WuXi NextCODE just announced a massive $240m series B financing round. The company extended and completed the Series B round with investment from a consortium led by Sequoia China and including Temasek, Yunfeng Capital and 3W Partners. Temasek, Yunfeng and 3W also participated in the initial Series B round in May alongside Amgen Ventures and other existing long-term investors and partners.
Category: News (Page 1 of 12)
Influencer marketing platform Ghostlamp announced they had closed a $1m seed round. The investor is Brunnur Vaxtarsjóður, which makes this the second investment announced by Brunnur this week. The investment comes with a commitment of $1m following the growth of the company. Previous investors include advertising agency Pipar / TBWA and Vetrargil. Both invested undisclosed amounts in the company.
“We’ve been following Ghostlamp for a couple of years and believe it will be able to grow fast and be successful internationally,” Árni Blöndal, GP at Brunnur, said in a statement.
Ghostlamp is a influencer marketing platform, where brands and advertising agencies can connect with local influencers and pay them to advertise their products. According to the statement, the company has over 6 million influencers listed, and categorises them based on age, gender, location and more.
“Ghostlamp ensures that influencers get paid for sharing their creativity, in partnership with brands, with their followers. By partnering with Brunnur, we not only get funding to help support further growth, but also access to valuable experience through people that have been in similar situations as we have,” Jón Bragi Gíslason, Founder & CEO said in a statement.
Employee training app Viska just announced a $1.2m seed round led by Brunnur with participation from Investa. Sigurður Arnljótsson, GP at Brunnur, will take a seat in the companies board.
“The investment allows us to speed up product development, onboard more customers, and focus our sales efforts abroad” said Vala Halldorsdóttir, CEO and co-founder of Viska in a statement.
The company was founded by Árni Hermann Reynisson, Stefanía Bjarney Ólafsdóttir and Vala Halldórsdóttir, all early employees of QuizUp. Viska is clearly inspired by QuizUp at Work, a product aimed at the corporate education market that was later shelved when QuizUp decided to focus its effort on the production of the QuizUp America TV show.
“We are very excited with our collaboration with Viska. There’s a great opportunity right now to revolutionise employee training with the advent of new technologies and artificial intelligence. Viska Learning combines this in a new way,” said Sigurður Arnljótsson of Brunnur.
Viska, which was founded in January, has previously received a $450K grant from the Technology Development Fund, totalling funds raised to just shy of $1.7m.
You can read more in a detailed interview with the founding team in Viðskiptablaðið.
“At the start of Q2, we acquired Greenqloud, a private start-up company that created a cloud services orchestration and management platform for hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments,” said George Kurian, CEO of NetApp in prepared . “Greenqloud augments our team and accelerates our leadership in hybrid cloud data services by providing NetApp with a scalable architecture, unique technology, and expertise that enhances our ability to integrate and deliver cloud data services.”
Investors in Greenqloud include NSA Ventures, Keel Investments, founders and employees, and Kelly Ireland, who invested $4m in the company last August.
This acquisition marks the first Fortune 500 acquisition of any Icelandic startup company, the second Silicon Valley acquisition of an Icelandic company (last one was Clara in 2013), and the first exit for an Icelandic in some time – which is all great news for the ecosystem.
Crowberry Capital – the new early stage VC fund founded by former NSA Ventures veterans Helga Valfells, Hekla Arnardóttir and Jenný Ruth Hrafnsdóttir – just announced they had raised $38m (4bn ISK) for the funds first close. Final close is at $48m (5bn ISK).
“We’ve been working on preparing and raising the fund since December 2016, and are grateful for the trust our investors have shown us,” says Crowberry Capital cofounder and GP Helga Valfells, former CEO of NSA Ventures. “Our investors are both individuals and pension funds, with individuals contributing around 20% of the fund, and pension funds 80%.”
The fund has a lifetime of 7-10 years and will invest in up to 15 startup companies during its investment period. According to the press release, the founders see much potential in investing in startup companies in Iceland and will focus on tech companies – foodtech, fintech, B2B enterprise solutions, videogames, and more. According to Helga, they foresee their first investment to take place this fall. “We’ve already started getting pitches,” she added.
Jenný Ruth Hrafnsdóttir, previously an investment manager at NSA Ventures and cofounder of Crowberry said: “We look forward to creating value and participating in the growth and development of the companies of the future, by investing in Icelandic innovators. Our hope is that Icelanders will not only use technology, but participate in creating the technologies of the future.”
The fund will become part of a growing ecosystem of private investors in the Icelandic startup scene. It will most likely be a welcome addition to the four funds that have been active in the past years, as three of them are mostly unable to participate in new investment opportunities.
“The cooperation between entrepreneurs and investors is important to success, and the benefit can be great for all participants, not least the society as a whole,” said Hekla Arnardóttir, cofunder of Crowberry and former investment manager at NSA Ventures.
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Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir has appointed a four person working group about NSA Venture’s future. She announced her intention to do so at NSA Venture’s annual meeting this May.
In a press announcement, the ministry discusses the move:
NSA Ventures, which started in 1998, was created because a lack of availability of startup funding which the government needed to address that market failure. The fund has played an important role as an early stage investor, and been a part in bridging the gap between grant-giving governmental funds and later stage investors.
The startup funding environment has changed drastically since the fund’s inception, most notably by the emergence of new investment companies and venture capital funds. The fund has also been in a tight position, partially because the sale of assets has been slow, and fresh investments therefore few and far between.
The future framework and allocation of the fund’s assets have been under review for several years, and the purpose of the working group is to review underlying data and make suggestions.
The working group consists of:
- Guðrún Gísladóttir, chairman, Director General in the Ministry of Industries and Innovation.
- Almar Guðmundsson, chairman of the board at NSA Ventures.
- Guðrún Ögmundsdóttir specialest at the Ministry of Finance
- Tryggvi Hjaltason, Producer at CCP.
The working group is asked to deliver their suggestions before September 30th of this year.
A mostly straight-forward announcement, and right in line with what the minister discussed at the annual meeting.
The composition of the group is also mostly straight forward. Two representatives of the government and the two ministries that are directly involved with the fund. Almar Guðmundsson most likely sits there as a representative of NSA Ventures, knowing its workings and assets, while not directly employed by the fund. Tryggvi Hjaltason comes in as an independent advisor. Researched the operational environment of tech and startup companies in Iceland in his Master’s thesis.
NSA Ventures will be the topic of the next Memo – you can sign up here.
Lawrence Lessig, law professor at Harvard and founder of Creative Commons, will assist indy game studio Klang with designing the politics of their upcoming massively multiplayer online game Seed. This is reported in Venture Beat.
Lessig happened to meet Mundi Vondi, CEO of Klang, and start talking about games.
“After talking for a while, we moved on to how they were going to govern these places, the structure for governing,” Lessig said in an interview with GamesBeat. “It was clear that no one had really thought through that much. That’s what began our conversation about whether there was something fun to experiment with here.”
Seed is a continuous, persistent simulation where players are tasked with colonizing an exoplanet through collaboration, conflict, and other player-to-player interaction. Using unique gameplay based on managing multiple characters in real-time, communities are built even when players are logged off, allowing the world of Seed to be a living, breathing entity.
“We’re building a virtual world filled with vast, player-created communities where every player-action has a repercussion in the game world,” Vondi said in a statement. “For example, a player might chop down a tree, which affects the planet’s ecosystem. This wood can then be sold on, which has an impact on the economy, and if the player chooses to, use the money to bribe another player, which affects the balance of power. We create and provide the tools and incentives to build these communities…the rest is up to the players.”
Klang Games, which is based in Berlin, was founded by a group of Icelanders. They previously released ReRunners, a multiplayer endless runner. The company has raised an undisclosed amount from Greylock Partners, MIT Media Lab founder Joi Ito, and Unity’s Davíð Helgason.
CrankWheel, the Icelandic SaaS company working on instant visualisation tools for inside sales teams, just released version 2.0 of its solution. The most notable addition is the new Instant Demos feature, which allows sales teams to go from smart lead capture, to phone call and screen share within seconds.
“When preparing for a conference, we saw that many of the companies we wanted to approach had call-to-actions like Request a Demo on their websites. We’d been telling our clients that they could use CrankWheel for those meetings, but realised we hadn’t been delivering a complete solution,” says Jói Sigurðsson, founder and CEO of CrankWheel. “With Instant Demos the idea is that you can go from request for demo, to phone call, to screenshare in a matter of seconds.”
Instant Demos provides a conversational lead capture and has automatic lead enrichment based on data found in online sources about the lead. When a potential customer makes a request for demo, all available sales agents are pinged, and the first to respond gets to make the call.
“We created a prototype to bring to a trade show last February to show the concept. Seven companies signed up at our booth to be first adopters, and they’ve been working with us on developing the feature since then,” Jói says.
Mink Campers have just announced a $450,000 seed round from undisclosed investors.
The company specializes in providing quality travel experiences in nature through the use of their signature Mink Camper and the Mink Travel Guide App. Their aim is to connect adventurous travelers with interesting Icelandic locals, such as artisanal farmers and avid hiking experts. The Mink Camper boasts unlimited 4G wifi, a Bose sound system and a queen bed, among other things.
“We at Mink Campers are excited to be joined by this group of investors, who are not only interested in the growth opportunities, but also in creating a strong Icelandic brand in the camping and outdoor activities space,” says Kolbeinn Björnsson, CEO and co-founder of Mink Campers.
“The investment will be used to manufacture and market the campers that will be rented out this summer in participation with Avis car rental.” The investors will take board seats and be active participants in the development of the company. Helga Viðarsdóttir of Spakur and Finnbogi Jónsson facilitated the funding round.
This is the first round of funding the company receives. The plan is to produce 50 campers for the summer, both as rentals and for sale. Production will be ramped up by the end of summer to prepare for 2018.
Mink Campers want to take the hassle out of camping, increase the comfort, and make tenable new kinds of travel for people interested in close connection with nature.
“We recently signed a contract with Avis rental cars, and they will help us with customer service and renting cars to accompany the campers,” Kolbeinn says. “Avis has service centers all over Iceland, which will help us provide first class service to our customers.”
Today, we’re excited to announce the formation of Community Fund, a 2 million ISK ($18.5k) fund that will support events and projects in the Icelandic tech community that foster knowledge sharing, networking and discussion about technology and product development.
The aim of the fund is to empower the grassroots of the tech community in Iceland by easing the access to funds and support. It’s created for smaller projects like meetups, workshops, knowledge sharing and conference preparation, that are likely to enrich the tech community.
The fund is backed by stakeholders in the tech community: SUT (Federation of Icelandic IT companies), Investa, Tempo, Frumtak Ventures, Kaptio, Northstack and Lagahvoll (who helped with all the legal stuff).
The hypothesis is simple:
We have a lot of driven individuals that are interested in preparing meetups, speaking at meetups, and contributing to the tech community. One of the biggest hurdles to executing those ideas is money – people are already giving their time and don’t want to give their money, too. So by making money easily accessible, we can increase the amount of tech focused events.
Our founding partners – SUT, Investa, Tempo, Frumtak, and Kaptio – loved the idea, and we’re structuring the fund as a one year experiment.
In one year’s time we’ll evaluate whether the experiment went in the direction we thought. Did we see more events? Did Community Fund help? Should the initiative continue?
We hope it will, but that’ll be up to the community.