Despite it being the last month of the year and traditionally a slower one, December 2015 has given us plenty to chew over, as we saw a influx of investments in Iceland over a short period of time, an acquisition which has been a long time in the making and a concerning story regarding a company that many considered to be the Nordics next unicorn.
(For a full recap of investments, exits and top stories for Nordic startups in December, go here)
4 investments in Icelandic startups in 8 days
There's been 4 funding rounds announced in Iceland in the last 8 days, a country with a population of 330,000, impressive.— Neil S W Murray (@neilswmurray) December 11, 2015
This month we're going to break the rules a little and rather than focus on one single investment, we are going to look at a bunch of them that occurred in a short space of time, and were steeped in significance.
The start of 2015 saw three new funds announced in Iceland totalling $80 million and last month we finally saw these funds becoming active, as four Icelandic startups announced investment within 8 days: ARK Technology with $2.3 million, Data analytics startup Activity Stream raised $2 million, TMO Select, provider of in-store music, closed a $1.5 million Series A and Watchbox secured $380,000 funding from Frumtak 2.
It remains to be seen whether this flurry of activity was a one-off or whether 2016 will bring a record number of investments in the Icelandic scene, but either way, it's good to see the new funds becoming active and end the year fulfilling the promise that the start of the year offered.
Schibsted now owns 80 percent of housing site Hemnet with the transaction valued at $175 million
This looked like a done deal earlier this year, and we even declared it as such. Turns out we jumped the gun a little bit then, but last month, the deal was finally agreed, with just approval from the Competition Authority now required.
Although there's a small possibility that the deal could be rejected, it should complete, meaning that Schibsted will finally get their long coveted target. The sticking point for the last couple of months had been the attempts to come to an agreement with Fastighetsmäklarförbundet (Estate Agents Association) for their shares in Hemnet, who finally agreed to sell their 15% for 225 million Kroner. This means, the final transaction will give Schibsted an 80% majority stake in Hemnet, valuing them at $175 million.
Truecaller to let go as many as 20-25% of their employees
Truecaller have long been considered a unicorn-in-waiting, with reports a couple of months ago indicating that they were set to raise $100 million at the coveted $1 billion valuation. However, since then, they was no further news regarding the funding round, and instead, rather concerning reports surfaced indicating that Truecaller had to let go 20-25% of their staff. There were rumours surfacing from both sides on why this was, and while I won't give any real credence to any of these, it has to be said that it is hard to see this as a positive development for the company. However, personally I'm still very bullish about Truecaller as a company and predict that in 2016 we will get to see them become the latest member of the Nordic unicorn club.
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