Icelandic fintech company Meniga today announced the acquisition of Wrapp, a Stockholm based reward platform. The purchase price is undisclosed, all-stock, with maximum earn-outs totaling up to a 25% share in Meniga. Current shareholders, including Scandinavia’s biggest bank Nordea, join Meniga’s shareholders.
The Wrapp reward platform will be merged with Meniga’s similar offering with Wrapp’s CEO Aage Reerslev joining Meniga as VP of Rewards.
“The attitudes of consumers towards the use of their personal data is changing. Custodians of personal data are expected to use data to deliver personalisation and value in a respectful and transparent manner,” explains Georg Ludviksson, CEO of Meniga.
“We believe the merger brings us to a tipping point given the strong commitment we have from existing platform partners. This is the right time to invest in transaction-driven marketing technology and create a more intelligent user-centric service which basically helps people buy better and smarter, not more”, says Aage Reerslev, former CEO of Wrapp, now VP of Rewards at Meniga.
In two press releases today, Iceland founded Oculis Pharma announces an extension to their Series B round amounting to $15.7m (15.5m CHF), and an expansion to its portfolio through the licensing a novel antibody from Novartis. No financials are disclosed in relation to the licensing.
“Oculis is evolving and advancing rapidly,” CEO of Oculis, Dr. Riad Sherif said in a statement. “With this new fundraising, adding to the CHF20 million we raised a year ago, we have a strong financial position from which to drive our clinical development programs”
The extension of the round brings total raised to $36m (35.5 CHF) with new investors Tekla Capital Management and Nan Fung Life Sciences, and participation from earlier investors. Previously the company had raised $5m from Icelandic VC firm Brunnur Ventures, which holds 19% of the share capital after this financing round.
The funds will be used to expand the company’s portfolio through strategic in-licensing, and to advance its development of novel eye-drop treatment for major ophthalmic diseases.
“I, and the team at Nan Fung Life Sciences, have been extremely impressed with vision and progress made by Oculis in building a company with the potential to significantly improve the treatment of ophthalmic diseases,” commented Peter Bisgaard, Managing Director at Nan Fung Life Sciences.
Ankeri Solutions, the startup creating a shipping marketplace that rewards efficient, low-emissions vessels, just announced a $500k seed round led by NSA Ventures. The investment gives NSA Ventures a 12% ownership stake in the company.
“We’ve been following Leifur and Kristinn for a long time and know of their knowledge and experience with the international maritime sector,” Huld Magnúsdóttir, CEO of NSA Ventures said in a statement.
Co-founders Kristinn Aspelund and Leifur A. Kristjánsson, previously worked at Marorka, a tech company that specialises in marine energy management.
“We’re excited to have NSA Ventures join us on our journey to change the communication between shipowners and charterers,” CEO and co-founder Kristinn Aspelund commented. “The initial market response has been beyond our expectations, and since we’ve launched we’ve seen a lot of growth in its use.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
“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, 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.