A look back at 2015, a record breaking year for the Nordic tech scene

2015, has been a monumental year for the Nordic scene, and a breakthrough one in terms of media and investors outside of the region beginning to see and understand what is happening in the Nordics, as the region, and particularly Stockholm have established themselves as one of Europe’s main startup hubs, especially when it comes to venture capital and exits.

Throughout the year, we’ve been there documenting this, so we thought as the year draws to a close, it would be fun to look back and reflect on 2015, a record breaking year for the Nordic tech scene.


On The Nordic Web

We kicked off this year with a funding analysis for 2014. What seemed like a huge amount of capital last year, now seems pretty modest compared to what came this year, either way it’s interesting to look back now with the context of this year nearly behind us.

We also speculated on the identify of Danish Endomondo’s potential acquirer, although the less said about that the better….(Hint: we were spectacularly wrong).

We launched our membership scheme, which in all honesty has not gone the way we wanted it to (from our side) so this is something we will seek to address in January, so stay tuned for news on this.

Finally, we had a candid conversation with Mikkel Svane, CEO of Zendesk.

And here’s the full recap of Investments, Acquisitions, and Top Stories for Nordic Startups from January.

In the Nordics

Jay Z acquired Aspiro (Tidal) and subsequently made quite a mess of it, including having a constant revolving door with the CEO’s.

Sequoia invested in Swedish Mapillary, making it the first European seed round that Sequoia (U.S) had ever participated in.


On The Nordic Web

We revealed what Nordic startups we believed to be looking for (and worthy of) investment at various stages in “I’m a VC, what Nordic startups should I be looking at?” (Note: We will publish an updated version of this in the new year)

We took a look at how much U.S money is being invested in the Nordics.

We speculated on who Facebook might buy next in the region having bought several Nordic startups in 2014, ultimately it ended up being none in 2015, but here were our six best bets as to who may be next on Facebook’s shopping list.

And here’s the full recap of February’s Investments, Acquisitions and Top Stories from Nordic startups in February.  

In the Nordics

Endomondo’s acquirer was revealed to be Under Armour, with the price tag at $85 million.

Canon acquired Swedish video surveillance company for $2.8 billion. After acquiring Milestone Systems in 2014, the Japanese came back to the region for another huge purchase, in a deal which was eventually closed in April.

Iceland were the beneficiary of three new funds announcing themselves in the space of a week, totalling $80 million. These announcements eventually led to the creation of a new Icelandic tech startup blog which has done a great job of capturing the increasing developments in terms of funding and news in Iceland. (We can highly recommend it).


On The Nordic Web

We looked at what percentage each Nordic Country received in terms of the money that came into the region compared with the percentage each Country received in terms of International media coverage that focused on the region, in Analysis: Media Coverage vs. Investment Raised

We provided our members with a A Spreadsheet of Active Investors in Nordic Startups Sortable by Stage, Location and Vertical (Members Article)

We looked at where each country is getting its funding from, with Sweden the only country that is the beneficiary of money based outside of the Nordics as its main source.

And here’s the full recap of Investments, Acquisitions, and Top Stories for Nordic Startups from March.

In the Nordics

March was a relatively quiet month in the context of the rest of the year, but still saw some big Danish funding rounds with Realm’s $20 million Series B and Falcon Social’s €15 million.


On The Nordic Web

We reported on Spotify being set to raise $400 million at a $8.4 billion valuation, putting them on course to be the most valuable ever Nordic startup, we benchmarked this against others. When they eventually did raise their round it was a massive $526 million, giving them a valuation of $8.53 billion, and putting them just above Skype’s $8.5 billion exit.

We offered constructive criticism to Startup Denmark, on how they need to compete for talent and not just accept it.

We revealed how Companies originating from the Nordics accounted for 25% of Europe’s 20 largest tech exits in 2014

And of course, our April Fool’s joke: Spotify CEO to Launch Rap Career

Our full recap of Investments, Acquisitions, and Top Stories for Nordic Startups from April.

In the Nordics

Swedish eye-tracking technology company Tobii goes public at $2.9 per share, valuing it at $244 million, it continued to perform well on the public markets throughout the year as well.

After a long period of rumours, Nokia’s HERE Maps unit reportedly received its first bidders, in a story that was still to see several twists and turns.


On The Nordic Web

We provided our members with an An Update to the Nordics Most Active Investors (Members Article), including Q1’s as well.

Intrigued by whether investors are becoming more interested in Nordic startups due to the previous success stories that are flowing out of the region and increasing every year, we looked at the percentage of new and returning investors putting their money into Nordic startups in 2015, and found a 50/50 split.

May also saw me (Neil S W Murray) win the Nordic Startup Awards’s ‘Best Tech Journalist Award’, thanks again to everyone who voted for me!

And our full recap of Investments, Acquisitions, and Top Stories for Nordic Startups from May.

In the Nordics

May was undoubtably the busiest month of the year so far in all aspects of the word, with big events such as Arctic15, TechBBQ and The Nordic Startup Awards all taking place, and funding and exit activity exploding, not only were there huge rounds, there was also a huge number of rounds, we recorded 23, with Trustpilot’s $73.5 million Series D perhaps the pick of the bunch as they edge ever closer to being a Danish unicorn.


On The Nordic Web

The pivotal month. The month where we started with one of our most popular (and controversial) articles to date The Nordics will attract more venture capital than London within three years and I am especially pleased to say that six months later, I am still happy to stand by this statement.

As if to back this up, June saw an influx of new VC funds target the Nordics.

Then, we passed our first major milestone: As of today, Nordic startups have raised more this year than they did in the whole of 2014, and then only days later: Huge milestone passed, as Nordic startups raise $1B+ in a year for the first time, and it’s only June…

We ran quite a few other analyses in June too, the best of the rest include: Analysis: Raising Series A in the Nordics; 11 Key FindingsWhich VC firms are funding the largest Series A rounds in the Nordics?Despite record breaking amounts of venture capital, significantly less is coming from U.S investors and Index Ventures have the best investment track record in the Nordics, so who are they currently backing?

And our full recap of Investments, Acquisitions, and Top Stories for Nordic Startups from June.

In the Nordics

The biggest story in June, and in fact, the year, was definitely Spotify closing their $526 million round at a $8.53 billion, which made them one of the World’s highest valued VC-backed private companies, not bad from the little old Nordics, eh?

Softbank bought an additional 22.7% in Supercell, which meant (at least according to our sources) that their valuation is now up around the $5-5.5 billion mark.


On The Nordic Web

We rarely feature guest posts but when we do, they’re good ones: Vipps vs. mCash: What happens when the incumbent is the startup? The battle for the Norwegian mobile p2p market saw further developments later in the year when Norway’s second biggest bank Sparebank1 snapped up the technology behind mCash for commercial use in Norway.

After our look at Series A in June, we followed up with seed rounds by country: Analysis: Seed rounds in Denmark; 6 key findingsAnalysis: Seed rounds in Finland; 7 key findingsAnalysis: Seed rounds in Sweden; 7 key findings

And our full recap of Investments, Acquisitions, and Top Stories for Nordic Startups from July.

In the Nordics

Reports surfaced that Truecaller were set to become the latest Nordic unicorn as they were set to raise $100 million at a $1 billion valuation. This ultimately was never confirmed, in fact, reports surfaced in the last week or so that Truecaller have let 20-25% of their staff go, so, we may have to wait a little while for that magic unicorn milestone.


On The Nordic Web

500 Startups announced their pre-accelerator in Oslo, and we caught up with partner Sean Percival regarding their plans for the Nordics.

Rumours surfaced that Toca Boca was set to be sold and we questioned whether their rumoured price tag meant that they were undervalued.

And our full recap of Investments, acquisitions and top stories for Nordic startups from August.

In the Nordics

Nokia’s digital mapping business HERE was finally bought by BMW, Daimler and Audi for €2.8 billion in what will prove to be one of the largest exits of the year in the Nordics.

Klarna ‘insiders’ sold shares in a secondary deal that valued the Swedish payments firm at $2.25B and propelled it into the higher echelons of Europe’s highest valued companies.

And unicorn-in waiting iZettle raised a $60 million Series D.


On The Nordic Web

In another rare guest post we took a look at the Nordic sharing economy: slowly dying or just getting started?

And our full recap of Investments, acquisitions and top stories for Nordic startups from September

In the Nordics

Danish Subway Surfers breaks 1 billion downloads barrier, boasting 27 million daily active players, we delved into what that meant a little further in the first version of our monthly briefings where we highlight the most significant funding, exit and story from that month.


On The Nordic Web

We looked at Q1-Q3 as a whole and compared it to this stage of the year in 2014. With Spotify’s $526M monster round, the venture capital scene has looked very rosy in the Nordics in 2015. But how much of this has to do with Spotify? And how are individual countries performing in raising venture capital compared to last year? We endeavoured to find out in Analysis: The Nordic funding landscape: 2014 vs. 2015.

We also published three of our most popular posts this year, pretty much back to back:

Founders is the only startup studio in the Nordics, but what exactly is it?

Why private equity will trigger a perfect storm for Nordic startups

Reaktor Ventures aim to be the Nordics most active investor, here’s what they’re interested in

As well as telling the Nordic media to calm down, unicorns take a long time to breed.

And our full recap of Investments, acquisitions and top stories for Nordic startups from October and Highlighting October’s most significant investment, exit and story

In the Nordics

Angry Birds maker Rovio cut 213 jobs and look to spin off learning business, as 2015 continued to be a turbulent year for the Finnish gaming giants.

It was announced that the Swedish founders of Avito are selling their $170M in shares in Avito and plan to invest in Swedish startups, while Northzone are exiting on Avito for $155M, meaning although Avito is technically a Russian company, the Nordics will very much be the bearers of its fruits.


On The Nordic Web

We wrote extensively on the amount of capital coming into the Nordics this year, but equally important is the number of investments that are happening in the region, so we set out to find out how these fared compared to 2014 and we discovered that investments in Nordic startups were still significantly increasing.

500 Startups announced that as well as their pre-accelerator in Oslo and their Distro Dojo in Stockholm they are also raising a $15 million fund to invest in Nordic startups, we provided an insight into their investments so far in order to get a better idea of what they may be interested in.

And our full recap of Investments, exits and top stories for Nordic startups from November and Highlighting November’s most significant investment, exit and story

In the Nordics

In addition to the news of 500 Startups’ $15 fund, the biggest stories were Acano’s acqusition by Cisco, which was incredibly the second company that the Norwegian founding team had sold to Cisco, this one was for $700 million.


On The Nordic Web

We caught up with Sebastian, the CEO of Klarna for an interview on fintech, Stockholm, London and Europe.

In the Nordics

Iceland saw 4 funding rounds announced in the space of 8 days as they finish the year strongly to deliver on some of the hopes that were set at the start of the year with the new fund announcements.

As for the rest of the month, well its not over yet, and although it may be Christmas, after this year, I wouldn’t put money on nothing else happening in the Nordics…..

But, what a year right? Thanks for following it with us on The Nordic Web, and Merry Christmas!

If you want to keep on top of what’s happening in The Nordic startup scene in 2016, then sign up to our weekly newsletter where we curate all of the need-to-knows news from the region

“In the tech world, things move fast and companies are born anywhere in the world. I’m able to have an ear to the ground with The Nordic Web – the content is fresh, local, and of high quality, which is exactly what you need as a seed investor.

In fact, it’s through Neil Murray’s newsletter that I first heard about Mapillary. Several months later, I was fortunate to lead our firm’s investment in the Company to help drive the creation of a crowdsourced visual representation of our world”

— Nathan Benaich, Playfair Capital

Neil S W Murray founded The Nordic Web in 2014 in order to provide the Nordics with the quality coverage it deserves. As well as being Founding Editor of The Nordic Web, Neil is also an active community builder in the region, participating in a number of initiatives, and has previously worked for Tech.eu.