Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sulake eyes IPO in 2008

Mon Apr 23, 2007 1:45 PM BST By Tarmo Virki

HELSINKI, April 23 (Reuters) - Internet company Sulake plans to list next year on the back of strong investor demand for social networking sites, the Finnish firm said on Monday, after it said it bought social networking firm Dynamoid Oy. Sulake, which had 2006 sales of 38.5 million euros ($52.2 million), said it will be the largest Internet company in the Nordics after the deal. The company -- known for its successful Habbo Hotel teenager-networking Web site -- aims to list its shares next year, with the London Stock Exchange and Helsinki bourse the most likely options, its chairman Jussi Nurmio said.

"Internet, distribution, community -- thats what is interesting for the investors. Many investors are interested in this media," Nurmio told Reuters on sidelines of a news conference. Sulake's Chief Executive Timo Soininen said the company was working to make itself ready for the listing, targeting a 20 percent profit margin for earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation by the end of 2007. "Within the next 8 to 16 months is our aim (to list)," Soininen said.

Habbo Hotel ( has over 7 million monthly visitors, with an average age of under 16 years and spending an average one euro a year on the site.
Dynamoid runs Finland's most popular social networking site IRC Galleria which has more than 400,000 registered users, who spend on average around 20 hours a month on the site. Sulake's CEO said he was not worried about sales growth slowing to just 29 percent in 2006, after it at least doubled its revenues for several years.

"I think we have a good chance to continue growing at a super speed, over 50 percent a year," said CEO Soininen. "In the United States we have only scratched the surface, our advertisement sales are only at the beginning and also the acquisition gives a boost." Dynamoid has started up first networking sites in Russia and Germany and Sulake said more will follow shortly. Sulake has operations in around 20 countries.

Sulake said it hopes to take on competition from much bigger rivals such as MySpace. It said IRC Galleria users spend 10 times more time on the site than users of its many larger rivals. "The usage numbers are amazing. The countries are not that different, so it is clear that the model works also elsewhere," chairman Nurmio said.
Sulake's main owners are Finnish ad agency Taivas, which is partly owned by British giant WPP , venture firms 3i and Benchmark Capital, and telecoms operator Elisa .

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ericsson says Payforit pays

By Tony Dennis: Thursday 12 April 2007, 12:25
ON THE quiet, the UK mobile network operators have been moving towards a generic 'branded' mobile payments system called 'Payfor it'. Ericsson has revealed that its implementation has raised sales by 20 per cent. Peter Garside, regional manager with Ericsson IPX, told the INQ that his company has been providing Payforit services to three UK operators – T-Mobile, Virgin, and Vodafone since December 2006. The idea with Payforit is that the operators qualify suppliers to offer the service in order to offer a trusted mobile payment service to subscribers.

Ericsson had previously being offering its own 'unbranded' service which it simply called WAP billing. The company's research has shown that amongst its own customers, those who have switched to Payforit have seen remarkable results. The number of one-off payments – for items such as ringtones – has risen by an impressive 20 per cent. Ericsson currently provides Payforit to around 11 content providers offering approximately 130 services.

According to Garside, the rise is because the Payforit brand "has instilled confidence in consumers. They now feel far more comfortable about purchasing content when they see the Payforit name." Garside claims that other companies have gained accreditation to offer Payforit but they haven't gone live yet.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

HABBO & IRC Galleria Merger (Leveraging Habbo's Infrastructure)

Sulake Corporation, the company behind Habbo takes a strong step towards the social networking scene by acquiring Finland's leading social networking service IRC-Galleria. The acquisition makes Sulake the biggest company in online communities and virtual worlds in the Nordic region. Sulake's online services now reach more young people than any other media in Finland.

Sulake's long-term goal has been to broaden its product portfolio with new online services, which can be launched internationally by utilizing the unique international network Sulake has built for Habbo. Currently Sulake has offices in 19 countries with a staff of over 300, over 150 payment methods in 32 countries, global hosting centers as well as distribution and marketing partners all over the world.

The objective of the deal is to launch a new social networking service based on IRC-Galleria concept to carefully selected countries using Sulake's infrastructure and experience. The IRC-Galleria concept has localized versions already in Russia, Estonia, Lithuania and Germany.