Category: News (Page 1 of 17)

Ghostlamp secures $800k in new funding

Influencer marketing marketplace Ghostlamp has secured an additional $800,000 in funding from local and international investors. The funding round is led by Brunnur Ventures, which previously invested in the company, with participation from angel investors. This brings total investment in the company to roughly $1.6m (200m ISK) over the last two years. In addition, Ghostlamp received a $400,000 grant from the Technology Development Fund last December.

Jón Bragi Gíslason, co-founder and CEO of Ghostlamp says in a statement the funding is a key factor in the continued growth and development of the company.

“Over the last months, Ghostlamp has been a leading provider of influencer marketing world wide,” Jón Bragi said in a statement. “We’ve been lucky to work with customers across twelve countries and have done campaigns for brands like Nissan, Subaru, Hamley’s, KFC, and more.”

Andri (left) CTO, and Jón Bragi, CEO, co-founders of Ghostlamp.

Up until now the company has been providing influencer marketing as a full service, taking care of finding, hiring, and paying influencers as well as measuring effectiveness and managing the content. “In the coming months, both customers and influencers will be able to use the Ghostlamp marketplace in many new ways,” said Jón Bragi.

The company recently opened an office in Brazil. “We’ve created strong connections with key people in Brazil and we have a strong team there working on development and the management of campaigns,” comments Andri Birgisson, co-founder and CTO of Ghostlamp.

Private Equity firm Diversis Capital acquires majority stake in Tempo at $62.5m valuation

Origo, parent company of Tempo Software, announced that it had reached an agreement to sell 55% of Tempo to Diversis Capital. Tempo is valued at $62.5m in the transaction, and Diversis will pay Origo $34.5m in cash for the share. Following the transaction, the owners (Origo and Diversis) will inject $2m into the business pro rata.

Finnur Oddsson, CEO of Origo

In a press release, Finnur Oddsson, CEO of Origo, comments that the sale is “great news, both for Origo and Tempo.” It’s a “recognition of the great work that has been ongoing at both Tempo and Origo” and that it shows the value of R&D work in Iceland. He also notes that it’s very much in the interest of Origo to maintain ownership of a sizable part of Tempo, eyeing further growth of the company.

The price tag ranks Tempo highly on the list of Icelandic tech exits – and adds an important item to a small but growing list of international tech success stories stemming from here: the fourth exit with a valuation of more than $50m since 2015.

Company Exit valuation Date
CCP $425m September 2018
Nextcode $65m January 2015
Tempo $62.5m November 2018
Greenqloud $51m August 2017

Several years in the making

Tempo is a spinoff from TM Software, one of Origo’s (then Nýherji) subsidiaries. A team of developers were solving their own problem: creating timesheets connected to the Jira project management tool to send to clients. It has since early days been a top seller at Jira’s marketplace and fueled consistent double-digit YoY growth in revenue.

The sale of Tempo has been in the works in some form for several years. Origo first announced that Tempo was for sale in 2015, when the plan was to sell 25% of the company. That plan didn’t go through, and the next movement in the process was in 2016, when Origo announced it had reached an agreement with AGC Partners regarding a possible sale of Tempo. It was then roughly a year ago, October 2017, that Origo formally asked AGC Partners to sell the company.

Ágúst Einarsson, CEO of Tempo

That led to an exclusive agreement with HPE Partners in August this year, where the plan was to sell a third of the company at a valuation of $62.5m following due diligence. Those talks fell through in the process. In conversation with Northstack, Ágúst Einarsson, CEO of Tempo, said the main reason was a different view on vision and strategy for Tempo following the sale between Origo and HPE. Then came Diversis, ready to buy a majority stake at the same valuation as HPE with a vision for next steps more aligned with Origo’s and Tempo’s leadership.

“Diversis are buying into a well operating company” Ágúst adds when asked about what changes we should expect, “so we don’t foresee any major changes in operations or staffing.” The plan is to use the fund to accelerate growth with more emphasis on sales and marketing, continued investment in R&D, improved customer service and additional product diversification.

From product to platform

“Tempo started out as a plugin for a popular project management tool,” says Viðar Svansson, Chief Product Officer at Tempo. “It’s now a suite of tools, and the next step for us is to widen our support base across workplace applications.”

Tempo officially integrates with Slack and support for Quickbooks Online was recently introduced. Other integrations are in development with a new Google Calendar integration expected to be rolled out before the holidays. According to Viðar, Third party developers have also shown interest in the platform with plugins and integrations ranging from business intelligence to asset management available.

Viðar Svansson, CPO of Tempo

“Investing in our platform to create connected experiences is key to our strategy,” Viðar adds. “We see new plugins from the ecosystem almost every month now, and we expect more of that in the future.“

Becoming a platform is the dream of most B2B software companies, making money both off their own product, and taking a cut of sales of plugins built to extend their core offering.

“Both owners have expressed the continued financial support in the case of M&A activity in the future,” Finnur, CEO of Origo mentions when discussing the platform play. “If Tempo sees technology or products that would fit into the product range, both Origo and Diversis will support acquisitions, should that be the best way forward for Tempo.”

November Art Exhibition marks launch of the Icelandic Art Association, helping living artists tokenize their work

“The first test of our platform will be on November 18, at the opening of my art exhibition in the Reykjavik City Hall,” Brandur Bjarnason Karlsson, co-founder and CEO of Icelandic Art Association (IAA) tells Northstack. Brandur and Geoffrey Stekelenburg, co-founder and CTO, got this idea the idea this summer, and subsequently decided to start a company.
“We believe this will make it easier for artists to find buyers for their work and create a stronger connection between artists and their patrons,” Brandur adds.

The platform, which focuses on enabling living artists to tokenize their own work, and selling parts of their paintings, is Iceland’s first venture in the space of blockchain and art – something that has garnered a good amount of hype in both the art and tech media in recent months. Auction house Christie’s used art registry service Artory in a recent auction, and blockchain based auction platform Maecenas recently sold a 31.5% stake in a Warhol painting.

“We saw that most of the intersection between blockchain and art is focused on very high value artworks,” Brandur explains. “We wanted to focus on living artists, and I believe we’re the first to offer that service.”

“Total art assets world-wide are estimated at $3 trillion,” Brandur adds, “but the annual sales are only around $60-70 billion. We think that one of the reason for this low turnover is how complex and timeconsuming it is to sell art. We’re trying to fix that problem.”

Icelandic Art Association promises to build a platform where investors can easily find new artwork made by current, living artists. Using their technology, people can buy and sell pieces of the artwork, increasing liquidity in the market.

Chris McClure, marketing advisor to IAA commented: “There’s a massive liquidity problem with many physical assets. Art, as an asset class, is a prime example of this pervasiveness. Yet, very few people talk about it. We can buy fractions of a company, gold and silver, and on and on, but we can’t buy fractions of physical art?”

Brandur’s exhibition will be at Reykjavik City Hall, where works will be offered both in the traditional way, as well as through the platform, where 20 tokens will be available for each work.

The addition of IAA also raises awareness of the growing blockchain scene in Iceland, being one of several startups utilising the technology to solve a variety of problems.

 

Íslandsbanki invests €3m in Meniga in strategic round

Íslandsbanki, one of Iceland’s “big three” banks invested €3m in Meniga, roughly ten years after Íslandsbanki became the fintech startup’s first customer.

“We’re very happy to have Íslandsbanki join us as an investor and look forward to working closely with the bank,” CEO and cofounder Georg Lúðvíksson commented.

The funding round marks the third strategic funding round Meniga has raised this year, with other’s coming from Swedbank and Unicredit, totalling over €9m.

“At Íslandsbanki, we’re constantly offering our customers better service. This investment in Meniga strengthens our relationship with the company, and is a part of our digital journey, where we’re improving the development of financial technology even more,” Birna Einarsdóttir, CEO of Íslandsbanki commented.

GRID, the SaaS startup here to free the spreadsheet, raises $1m angel round

GRID, the software company here to “Free the Spreadsheet,” closed a $1M angel round of funding this Monday.

“We are thrilled that the international investment community joins us in our enthusiastic mission,” said Hjálmar Gíslason, founder and CEO. “We look forward to partnering with these investors to expand GRID’s network and strength.”

Hjálmar recently returned to Iceland, after several years at Qlik, the data company that earlier acquired DataMarket which Hjálmar co-founded. Not moving far away from earlier, data visualisation projects, GRID’s user-friendly software empowers people to turn any spreadsheet into a beautiful web report, dashboard or interactive application.” Hjálmar has written about his deep-dive into spreadsheets on Medium.

“This funding will give us the runway we need to build the initial commercial version of the GRID product and fuel our go-to-market initiatives.”

Investors were both local and international, institutions and private individuals. Investors include Denmark’s Futuristic.vc; Iceland’s Brunnur Ventures; Index Ventures Principal Ari Helgason, Icelandic early stage fund Investa; Anthony Deighton, CMO of Celonis and former CTO of Qlik; Kristín Pétursdóttir, Chair at Kvika bank; and America’s 1/0 Capital investment fund.

GRID’s founding team includes both repeat team members and Silicon Valley expertise, bringing together the strength of legacy teamwork with U.S.-based go-to-market experience. The founding team consists of: Hjálmar Gíslason CEO and founder; Laura Edwards, VP of Revenue; Þorsteinn Yngvi Guðmundsson, VP of Operations; Borgar Þorsteinsson, lead client developer; and Steinn Eldjárn Sigurðarson lead cloud and server developer.

Investment in Swedish Elsa Science marks first international investment for Crowberry Capital

Elsa Science, a Swedish life science company that helps people with chronic illnesses make better lifestyle choices, announced on October 16 a $700,000 seed round from investors Inventure, Crowberry Capital, and several angels. Hekla Arnardóttir of Crowberry will join the board.

This investment marks the first time Crowberry Capital invests in a startup outside of Iceland, and the first time our current group of VC’s do that as well. (note: Sidekick Health, backed by Frumtak, is a Swedish company, but with very tight Icelandic connections (founders are Icelandic, and at least parts of development are in Iceland)).

“We are positioning us as a Nordic fund based in Reykjavik,” Hekla, General Partner at Crowberry told Northstack, “and we are looking actively at deals in the Nordics.” She mentions that VC’s commonly co-invest with other VC’s. “[Co-investing] has been our goal with Crowberry, both to attract international investors into Icelandic companies as well as co-investing in good opportunities outside of Iceland.”

Interestingly, Crowberry’s investment also marks the milestone that now Icelandic VC have made more investments in Sweden than Swedish have in Iceland, which is interesting, considering the imbalance in population and venture capital between the two countries.

“We’re investing in born global companies, so we too need to have an international mindset,” Hekla adds. She says that Crowberry will compare founders that have the ambition to build successful tech companies to other founders across the world. “In order for us to become an established VC firm, we need to be up for the same comparison.”

While Crowberry Capital will continue to follow international dealflow and participate in good deals, the team foresees the majority of investments to happen in Iceland.

StartupDocs bring legal templates for startups to Iceland

Startup Docs, a project by entrepreneur and angel investor Erik Byrenius, just launched in Iceland. The website, which hosts legal templates for startups, follows in the footsteps of StartupDocs websites for the other Nordic countries. The documents were adapted for Icelandic law by lawyers Daði Bjarnason and Jóhann Tómas Sigurðsson, partners at Lagahvoll.

Erik Byrenius

“The idea came from my own need when I became an angel investor four years ago. When I started investing it was difficult to know what were good, normal terms that both entrepreneurs and investors could agree on. There were no standards. So I decided to make my own and published that on StartupDocs,” says Erik Byrenius about the origins of the project. Erik founded OnlinePizza which sold to DeliveryHero, and more recently was a founding member of angel investment group Nordic Makers, which also includes Icelander Davíð Helgason.

“After launching StartupDocs in Sweden it became very popular. Norway and Denmark followed, and now Iceland”

Erik relies on pro bono work from local lawyers to help bring StartupDocs to new markets, which are based on the original Swedish documents, and adopted to local law for each new edition. Entrepreneurs can find investment documents, founder’s agreements, shareholder agreements, and other important legal documents to use in their startup.

“Founders sometimes forget the importance of having the legal aspect well thought out from the beginning,” commented Daði Bjarnason, partner at Lagahvoll, who adopted the documents. “And although we always recommend having a lawyer read over things, these templates provide a very good starting point.”

You can see all the templates and download them for free at StartupDocs.is

Guide to Iceland raises $20m valuing the company at $100m

Davíð Ólafur Ingimarsson, Deputy CEO of Guide to Iceland

Traveltech startup Guide to Iceland, which connects travel operators with travelers, and whitelabels such marketplaces through the subsidiary Travelshift, has announced a $20m funding round. State Street Global Advisors, in its capacity as an advisor and manager of private equity, invested in the company. State Street receive a 20% share of the company and a board seat for the investment.

“This allows us to continue marketing Iceland as a travel destination internationally,” deputy CEO Davíð Ólafur Ingimarsson said in a statement. “Aided by this investment, and Icelandic innovation that has resulted in a world-class software, it will be particularly exciting to pursue scaling to international markets.”

Guide to Iceland was founded in 2012, and this is the first investment in the company from abroad. On the companies travel platform, 500 travel operators are connected to travellers looking for experiences in Iceland.

“Our company growth targets are ambitious, but we’ve proven time and time again that we are a company that achieves formidable goals,” Davíð Ólafur adds. “We believe that the size of our company will increase substantially in the coming years.“

 

TripCreator raises $3m from a range of VC funds and business angels

Note: This article has been updated to correctly reflect the amount raised to be $3m, rather than $8m (which is the total the company has raised)

Icelandic travel tech company TripCreator just announced a $3m fundraise from various VC funds and business angels, bringing the total raised by the company to roughly $8m.

“We are very excited to be launching the TripCreator platform to everyone in the travel industry, including bloggers,” said Hilmar Halldórsson, CEO of TripCreator.io. “Our disruptive new model of ‘free forever’, combined with our platform that is capable of both incredible speed and analysis options (in numbers that require a Google search to comprehend the magnitude) means we are poised to shake up the itinerary planning industry. We are simultaneously opening sales offices in both London and New York City and plan to move the company to the latter city by the end of the year.”

TripCreator provides white-label as well as branded solutions that can seamlessly integrate with existing platforms through dedicated APIs. The company is also pioneering a new business model for the travel industry – ‘Free Forever’. Taking a cut of the transaction fee ensures there are no out-of-pocket costs to customers for using the platform.

CCP Acquired by Pearl Abyss for $425m

Korean Pearl Abyss, maker of Black Desert Online, just announced it had acquired Icelandic CCP, maker of Eve Online. CCP will continue to operate as an independent studio with operations in Reykjavik, Shanghai, and London. The sale price is $425m.

Pearl Abyss CEO Robin Jung stated, “We are thrilled to have CCP Games join our team as Black Desert Online continues to branch out globally. CCP is a seasoned publisher with over 15 years of digital distribution experience and know-how.”

Rumours around the inevitable sale of CCP have regularly surfaced, with the most recent and public rumour being when someone leaked to (or placed) Bloomberg news that the company was eyeing a sale.

“I have been seriously impressed with what Pearl Abyss has achieved ever since I first visited their website for Black Desert Onlineand subsequently became an avid player of the game,” said CCP Games CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson.

“Pearl Abyss is a fast-growing company with lots to offer in terms of technology, capability and vision. I believe our two companies have a lot to learn from each other. We are very excited to join forces with them and achieve great new heights for our companies, our games and – above all – our players.”

This acquisition is, in nominal value at least, the biggest acquisition in Iceland’s tech history. The next one in line would be Amgen’s $415m purchase of Decode in 2012.

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Nortstack – Reporting and analysis of the Icelandic startup scene