Jukka Häyrynen: Facebook deal brings credibility

5/5/2014

Moves, a Protogeo product bought by Facebook, is addictive in a smart way. It measures your daily exercise level, and all you have to remember is to keep your mobile phone with you. The application tells, with the help of illustrative circles, how much you have exercised by walking, running, or cycling during the day. The clear measurability is an incentive to exercise more.

I am hooked.

If the development steps of the Finnish startup ecosystem were described with the help of similar circles, Protogeo's sale to Facebook would expand the size of one of the balls considerably: it is the first step forward in the credibility of Finnish startups. Facebook has revolutionised the way in which people use the internet. Now Facebook wants to spread its influence to other areas. The purchase of the Finnish company Protogeo is part of a series of purchases by the social media giant, whose previous parts have included the communications service Whatsapp, and Oculus VR, which develops virtual spectacles.

The biggest step in the deal is for entrepreneurs, who have developed and marketed the service for a year. Moves is both a technical and a communicative success, as the application received considerable attention in the international media when it first came out. This helped increase the number of Moves downloads, which is now several million euros.

In Moves, the different forms of exercise are indicated as balls of different colours. If Finland were again evaluated as a startup ecosystem using the Moves model, one of the balls would be very small. Few companies in Finland can grow big primarily under Finnish ownership. Few stock market listings can be seen. Large Finnish companies seem to be on a perpetual slimming diet, and they do not buy startups. The growth of this Finnish exit ball needs to be the agenda for all of Finland. Only in this way can Finland become the leading ecosystem of startups in Northern Europe.

Corporate purchases are evidence of the attraction of Finnish business skills. These are young companies which have started from zero in the establishment of their value. A product, company, and competence have been established in a short time, for which a large international enterprise is willing to pay. These kinds of stories in recent months have included the data erasure company Blancco, the IT company Nervogrid, and the gaming company Applifier, which have been sold to international companies.

As a result, many types of needed capital are coming to Finland. We need economic capital so that we might grow new growth companies. We need skill capital, so that the experts who have built a successful company story can continue. We need self-confidence capital that successes such as Protogeo radiate. We need credibility capital, which the interest of international companies in Finland can give.

Jukka Häyrynen
Executive Director, Startup companies
Tekes

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