Highlighting August’s Most Significant Investment, Exit and Story

The Investment

ICEYE, a microsatellite radar imaging startup raises $13M to launch new constellation

One of the most outlandish and ambitious startups in the Nordics right now brought their total funding to $18.7 million with a new $13 million funding round led by Draper Nexus, with participation from True Ventures, Lifeline Ventures, Space Angels, Draper Associates and Finnish Funding Agency for Innovations.

ICEYE is launching a constellation of microsatellites to provide a view from space where traditional imaging cannot, with images delivered using a technology that is typically very expensive and difficult to deploy.

I’ve certainly noticed a shift towards Europe producing more ambitious companies recently, and in European investors backing them (Atomico have appeared to be particularly active recently in backing “moonshots”). I still think the more conservative mindset of the Nordics can often let us done in this regard, but in companies like ICEYE and others I’ve seen recently, I think that this is slowly happening in the Nordics too. This is only a positive development in my opinion, and the good news is, it appears that the capital is increasingly available to back them. Although I guess, ICEYE will still be the closest we ever get to a literal moonshot…


The Exit

Fortune 500 company NetApp acquires Greenqloud

As this was the first tech exit from Iceland for some time, there was certainly no more significant exit in the region in August. Not only that, but it was only the second exit where a Silicon Valley company was the acquirer and the first where a Fortune 500 company was the buyer.

The knock-on effect this will provide to the Icelandic scene remains to be seen, as some digging from Northstack showed that the founders and employees owned less than 10% at the time of the acquisition. Not only that, but the CEO is on record as saying if he was starting a new startup, he would never do so in Iceland…

The big winners then appear to be Keel Investments (38.8%) and NSA Ventures (15.5%). The latter is particularly interesting, as the fund is currently undergoing a big exercise in determining the future of its fund.

There’s no doubting that this exit is significant for an Icelandic scene that has been waiting a couple of years for one, however, just how significant it will be is far from certain.


The Story

iZettle, Rovio and Unity are all gearing up for an IPO

Spotify’s imminent direct listing looked set to be the biggest thing that has ever happened for the Nordic tech scene. However, it appears that Nordic tech giants going public is a lot like London buses. You wait ages for one, then suddenly several come all at once. Rovio, iZettle and Unity have all made noises about going public in the near future, meaning the Nordics could be set to really be at the forefront of the tech world’s attention over the next year or so.

If all four of these companies went public within a relatively short period of time we could see a real boost in capital and momentum for the Nordics. Although Unity are now headquartered in the United States, their recent funding round included a significant amount of secondary shares, meaning a lot of the early shareholders and employees shares were acquired by the Private Equity firm in this deal, meaning hundreds of people suddenly becoming a whole lot more liquid, with some of it sure to see its way back into the ecosystem. If they go public this will have an even bigger effect.

After a few difficult years, Rovio and the Angry Birds have had a strong resurgence recently, with recent reports valuing the company between $2-3 billion, with Tencent also talked about as a potential acquirer. Of the three, Rovio seems to be the least likely, however, Rovio themselves commented: “A stock exchange listing at some point in the future could be possible in order to support the continued strong growth of Rovio and its strategic targets.”

The one most likely to come first is iZettle, with the current plan seemingly to list in Q2 2018, with those in the know mentioning a 10BSEK valuation, setting them up to be another “exited unicorn” to come from the region.

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.