Archive for May 2006

Pageflakes receives funding! Heating up AJAX-Desktop Battle!

May 31, 2006

After Netvibes received some funding from Index and well-connected business angels, Michael Arrington revealed that Pageflakes will announce a funding round from Benchmark. This obviously will heat up the still early-days of customizable, personalized home-pages.

Takeaway: The funding of these two additional competitors of Microsoft, Google and Yahoo will definitely heat up things in this space, which ultimately will benefit the users / consumers of these services. The major question is, how the ultimate business model of these services will look like. Will it primarily be an ad-financed business model? Are users accepting advertisements on their personal home pages? Are users willing to pay for premium services and if yes, what is the % share the home-page provider can get from this pie? What other ways of monetarization are possible with such a service?

Recommendation: Knowing both Tariq and Christoph personally, I am sure that these two smart guys, might find answers to these questions. Watch Netvibes and Pagesflakes closely as they will be decent contenders of GYM in this space.

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German MNO Alliance for Mobile TV

May 29, 2006

What a big bang announcement! T-Mobile, Vodafone, O2 and e-Plus have announced a cooperation to deliver 14 TV Channels and 2 Radio Channels based on the DVB-H Standard.

Takeaway: This is a big move in the overall mobile TV landscape. So far, only young and motivated start-ups (MFD, etc.) have started to set-up their own programs and channels on i.e. DMB. This recent German alliance of the four leading MNOs is a big move, which could change the still nascent mobile TV landscape dramatically here. It remains to be seen, if this alliance is flexible enough to deliver on its promises or if small start-ups are more nimble than the big ones.

Congratulations to the RedHerring 2006 Winners – Germany coming in only at 4th place!

May 10, 2006

Congratulations to the winners of the RedHerring 2006 contest. Some remarkable winners worth mentioning from Germany are (in no particular order): Actionality, OpenBC and Spreadshirt. A positive surprise from a German side is clearly PV Crystalox Solar, examplifying Germany's competitive edge in the cleantech space. Other European companies who made it on the list this year and which have earned high respect and acclamations at the show (just to name a few): Sulake/Habbo Hotel, Cognima, Netvibes (well done Tariq!) or FON (Big plans ahead of you Martin!).

Takeaway: UK is the clear winner this year with 28 selected companies. France and Israel are both runners-up with 17 selected companies. Then, finally (!) Germany is sharing place number 4 ex aquo with Switzerland (Thanks Valerie for putting them up already). Although this list is a good indication on where technology oriented companies are based, it probably doesn't give enough credit to the great start-ups we have here in Germany….

Recommendation: Hey Germany! We can do better than that next year!

RedHerring 100 Event – Recap

May 10, 2006

I am just on my way back from the RedHerring 100 conference, which took place in Paris this week. Definitely one of the top events here in Europe, where you can meet the best VCs and start-ups in Europe. 100 “start-ups” from technology and life sciences got awarded there and had the chance to pitch their story to the audience. The event has revealed that Europe has a strong and remarkable crowd of entrepreneurs and business managers who are as successful as their US counterparts, however, please excuse that I name just a few “stars” who presented there and whom I consider particularly interesting and amazing:

Stan Boland, CEO from Icera. Icera is a fabless IC company aiming to revolutionize the next generation of mobile handsets. Stan, a serial entrepreneur, explained his vision, strategy and how to build a great and successful company. He clearly has very ambitious plans with this company as he outlined in his presentation.

Bernard Liautaud, Co-Founder/President/Chief Strategy Officer from Business Objects: BO is a great European success story in the IT/SW industry. Established in the early 90s, the company immediately focused on the US market and went public there soon after. BO has been increasing sales in 13 consecutive years (!!!) and hit the $1Bn revenue mark last year. He provided a very honest insight into the last 13 years, how he built a global company, went through difficult years and how he decided to transition out of the CEO role. Especially the latter topic showed that he is a great European Entrepreneur, who realised that every company is going through different phases of growth and that now the time has come to hand over his day-to-day activities. As he mentioned, he is enjoying his new, more strategic role at BO very much.

Brent Haberman, Co-Founder of Lastminute.com: I had a chance to meet with and talk to Brent, who went through all phases you can imagine in building a company. He started off with a few friends, raised seed money, went public in the late 90s, saw his stock price tumble from 320 pence to 19 pence, rebuilt the organisation and then sold out last year to Sabre for $1Bn+. He is now in a Chairman role at Lastminute.com and apparently looking for his next venture where he can “have fun” and be a real entrepreneur again.

Takeaway: Europe has great entrepreneurs! Of course, there are several things that make it more challenging here in Europe (fragmented markets, different cultures, European work ethics (!), cost per talent, rules and regulations, semi-liquid financial markets, etc.) but nevertheless, the companies mentioned above have made it! Despite all the quarrel, blame and excuses, they have taken the opportunity presented and made a great company out of it. This should encourage us, that nothing’s impossible! We can all learn from these gentlemen and what they have achieved.

Recommendation: Hello start-up out there! RedHerring 2007 is around the corner and this could be your chance to get on the list! It’s not just for fun, it’s a good marketing tool and way to promote your great ideas!