“My goal in life is to become free”

He is a specialized communication consultant, public speaker, a well-known blogger and a startup entrepreneur. For Johan Ronnestam, this variety of projects is what brings him pleasure, and what eventually enables him to become free. Let’s hear more on his philosophy and ways of achieving his goals.

Hi Johan. Is it ok to say that you have a split work personality?
Haha well if you want to. It’s true that I have a big problem telling people what it is that I do, since I’m dealing with a variety of very different projects simultaneously. That was one of the reasons why I started my blog… so I could simply tell people to go there and read about me, instead of explaining everything.

So let’s say we don’t want to read your blog right now. How would you introduce yourself?
Well, ok. I have been working with the Internet in one or another way since 1993, and I had the privilege to be able to do projects for some of the world’s biggest brands, both regarding advertising and communication but also in the field of business development and online/offline strategies. I tend to say that I do three things: I consult for different businesses, I do public speaking gigs and I am an entrepreneur, being involved in a couple of startups, one of them JAJDO, which develops iPad apps for kids.

How do clients who want you for consulting find you?
Primarily through word of mouth. After they have heard about me through somebody else, they usually go on the web and google me, and then they find my blog and can get to know me a bit better before getting in touch with me.

Considering your different activities one has to wonder if you simply stumbled into this situation working simultaneously in very different fields or if that was a deliberate decision of yours?
It was totally deliberate. When I started to blog some people told me that I need more focus. But I replied to them that I don’t do this to make business, I just try to shape my life so I have fun. And I have fun doing lots of things.

You don’t find it hard to prioritize all the time? Like when a client wants your help but you are preparing an important speech or working with your startup?
When I take assignments I am very clear with communicating that the client needs to follow my agenda.

That sounds as if you managed to build up quite a reputation. What’s your secret?
I would say it’s a mix of things. I got the chance to work with Nike Football in Europe in the 90s as well as with some other big global brands, which helped me to get noticed and increase my network. Also, my blog which I launched in 2007 has helped me to show people what I am good at. For example, I am a passionate designer, but telling somebody might not be convincing enough. Instead, I can show my creations. Also, my speaking gigs have helped me to spread the word. And when blogging, I try to publish my own thoughts, ideas and theories, not only linking to others. That’s important I think because it enables you to become and authority in your area of expertise.

What’s your thoughts on the state of social media?
Everything is maturing. And it hasn’t really happened so much during the past two years, at least nothing that really “WOWs” me. ; )

You are hoping for bigger changes?
It would make things a bit more exciting again. It was different in 2007 when all those new sites and services became big, like Facebook and Twitter. Now there are still new services, but often they do the same thing as the past ones. I also notice an increasing fragmentation. Everybody is using different services. You could say that social media is going through the same process as traditional media did – one newspaper was replaced by 1000 digital services, now 1000 big digital services are replaced by 10.000 small services. A couple of big things become many small things. The problem with fragmentation is that even the potential audience is fragmented. User driven content relies on people feeling that someone else is listening or reading. If people lack this feeling they stop publishing. Two years ago you had 50 great blogs in Sweden that were updated daily. Now that number has shrunk to 5. That means less linking and less engagement for everyone blogging in Sweden. But lets see how everything will change again with the next radical evolution that is already in sight: mobile.

…which is where you are heading with your own startup JAJDO.
Exactly. We are three guys running JAJDO, developing iPad apps for children. My co-founder Andreas and I kickstarted tons of smaller initiatives in the past and one day we decided to dedicate our time to a “real” startup. The big companies had overlooked this part of the gaming market which made it easier to build apps with only a very small team. We called our friend Jonas and went ahead. Today we invest about 3 days a week into JAJDO. It’s one brand and one engine in the background but we want to publish different apps. Of course we made a lot of beginner’s mistakes. One app we are going to launch is delayed 20 weeks. But we are not really under pressure since we are bootstrapping, thanks to our consulting jobs.

What’s your goal with being an entrepreneur?
If you are running a digital company with money from your own pocket, you are free to do what you want. You can go and surf while the company is running without you for a while. My goal in life is to become free (I blogged about that once). Another aspect is that by developing apps for children you can have a good conscious about what you’re doing, even if it would make you rich. We have more than 100.000 app downloads. I know that there are 70.000 or 80.000 children that got happy while playing with JAJDO. That’s a great feeling and something to be proud of. I hope we come to the point that we will be able to live off the app completely.

How much are your own kids involved in testing?
A lot. Often when we get close to launching the app they are already bored by it because they have been using it for such a long time, so I need to find new kids then to test it.

“The biggest challenge with Big Data is to stop focusing on Big Data”

Every second, a huge and every increasing amount of data is published on the web. Gavagai, a Twingly Data client based in Stockholm, has developed a Technology to read, aggregate and understand this content. Fredrik Olsson, the Chief Data Officer, gives some more insights into this fascinating business and about what the startup is able to do with the blog data it collects.

At Gavagai, you do some sophisticated stuff. Please tell us in a few sentences what your business is all about?
It’s about continuously reading tremendously large and dynamic text streams, and delivering timely, and actionable intelligence based on the aggregation of information therein. Of course, what is actionable depends on the information needs you as an actor in a particular domain have, be it brand management, assessing threat levels for targets-at-risk, or keeping track of the sentiment towards a particular tradable asset. Example information needs that you are able to address using Ethersource, our system, include:

* How is my brand perceived in comparison to those of my competitors’?
* Why are my customers unsubscribing from the services that I’m offering?
* When is the best time to launch this particular advertising campaign?
* How is the campaign, recently launched by my competitor, received
among my target audience?
* Where is it most likely that the on-line protests against a certain
phenomenon will be publicly manifested in terms of a demonstration?

We have a number of case studies available at our blog.

Fredrik Olsson

What’s the founding story of Gavagai?
Gavagai was founded in 2008 by my colleagues Jussi Karlgren and Magnus Sahlgren, as a spin-off from the Swedish Institute of Computer Science (SICS). Gavagai was formed as a response to the many inquiries Magnus and Jussi received from people outside SICS regarding their research. Gavagai has been operational in its current incarnation since late 2010.

You are one of Twingly’s Data clients, that means you are using our API to access data from Swedish and English speaking blogs. Why do you need this information and what do you use it for?
We read data from Twingly 24/7. In particular, the Twingly live feed gives what we believe to be a very good coverage of Swedish blogs, which of course is very important to us in meeting the kinds of information needs outlined above, expressed by domestic actors.

Do you have any insights about this data from Blogs in Swedish and English you want to share? Some surprising fact or observation?
One epiphany we had some time ago was that we’re now able to aggregate and inspect attitudes and opinions of a population as a whole, that’s not necessarily visible in any of the parts. For instance, we can clearly see that Swedish bloggers are optimistic during holidays and weekends, something which is very hard to assess from the posts of any one individual. Analogously, we also pick up on aversive or hostile tendencies in the online population towards a given subject, but where it is hard to identify all the facets of the tendency in any one individual. For example, we recently set up a Xenophobic Tracker using, among other things, the Swedish blogosphere as input; the propensity of violent expressions in that context is not a pretty read.

But it’s not the peak items that we’re most pleased with. With Ethersource, we can pick up and note weak signals and tendencies where other methods fail.

What type of companies or organisations use your services?
The kinds of actors that require actionable intelligence in their efforts to manage brands, make informed decision based on the ‘temperature’ of an on-line population as a whole, keep track of the general mood in the markets, or trade with specific assets.

Your titel is “Chief Data Officer”. That’s not too common, is it? Do you think every company will need a CDO in the future?
No, I don’t think every company will need a CDO in the future. Hopefully, companies will be able to scale down on their data management activities, perhaps due to their use of tools and techniques such as Ethersource, and instead focus on their core business. Much the same way we are able to focus on our core business by obtaining data from Twingly instead of harvesting it all ourselves.

Big Data is one of the hottest buzzwords right now, which is a field you are active in. What’s the potential and biggest challenges of the increasing amount of data?
We’re currently concerned with human-generated text, so it is in the light of that the response to this question should be read.

The biggest challenge with Big Data is to stop focusing on Big Data. Big Data will, by virtue of the prevailing definition, always be slightly too big to handle with common tools. This has mainly resulted in people being obsessed with processing speed and ability to store large amounts of data. Few, if any, have focused on a layer in the so called Big Data Stack that so far has been missing: the Semantic Processing Layer. The key challenge for Big Data is to come to the point where it is easy and swift to turn massive data streams into actionable intelligence; knowledge that you and your organization can act upon in order to obtain a competitive advantage. To put it another way; the key challenge of Big Data is to be of service.

Being a researcher by training and heart, I believe that we’ve yet to imagine the biggest potential there is in harnessing truly Big Data. Let’s talk about that in a few years, when a more representative sample of our world’s population is active on-line. Then, we’ll be able to find the collective answers to questions to mankind, that we’re not able to think of now.

What’s on your roadmap for the upcoming years? Where do you see the biggest growth and potential for Gavagai?
We’ve got very exciting times ahead of us! Ethersource is already unique in the way it is able to read amounts of text that would overwhelm traditional language processing methods, handle multiple (all) languages, in real-time, and learn from variations in the input in an unsupervised manner.

Our development plans involve some fairly hefty stuff. In the short term, we’ll roll out a game changer in terms of a way of identifying the many meanings of a given concept, and use that information to disambiguate expressions of that concept as they appear in social media. For instance, imagine that you are a brand manager for Apple, Visa, “3” or some other brand with an inherently ambiguous and common name: How do you go about monitoring the attitudes and opinions towards the meaning of the word that constitutes your brand, and only that meaning? There is a solution…

The biggest growth and potential for Gavagai is as a supplier of the Ethersource technology to other companies, such as analytics firms, trading desks, governmental agencies etc, that already have an infrastructure in place, but that lacks the competitive edge the ability to understand and make sense of large text streams in multiple languages gives. Ethersource is an implementation of the Semantic Processing Layer of the Big Data Stack, and we intend to move it as such.

Using Twingly Insight to see who blogs the most about a brand or product

A few weeks ago we launched Twingly Insight, a blog analytics tool for professionals. It’s one of the most advanced ways to analyse the blogosphere and it’s based on the vast amount of data that we collect about the global blogosphere.

There are lots of things you can do with the data from the Twingly Insight reports you create around any keyword or brand. One of the many examples is an instant overview about which blogs are mentioning a brand or keyword the most within a specific time period.

To illustrate that, we just picked the names of three popular Swedish tech companies and ran them through Twingly Insight to see who mentions them the most. Here are the results!

Blogs mentioning Spotify the most since july 21 2011:

Soundsofspotify
Låtbloggen
Spotinews
Jenesaispop.com
hypebot
Tune Of The Day
This Is Noise
TechCrunch
Readlinemusic.se
elnerdo.es

Blogs mentioning iZettle the most since july 21 2011:

ArcticStartup
Mediablogit.com
netzwertig.com
GP Teknik & Trender
VK bloggen – Mikael Hansson
Party pinglan

Blogs mentioning Pingdom the most since july 21 2011:

Clasesdeperiodismo.com
Nirmal TV
Mashable
The Next Web
ArcticStartup
TechFever

“Because of social media, hotels are forced to deliver real value”

Björn Milton is one of the co-founders of Twingly. In summer 2010, he left the team to do something totally different: Open a hotel with his wife. We had a little chat with Björn about his exciting project and the changes to the turism industry caused by social media.

Hi Björn. You are one of the founders of Twingly. Now you are running a hotel on the Swedish Island Gotland together with your wife. How did that happen?
By accident really. In the summer of 2010 me and my wife Karin planned our wedding that was due to be held in the beginning of August. In July we found out that a property right next to where we have our house was up for sale. We went to have a look and decided that it had potential. We didn’t really know exactly what we wanted to do with it, but we decided to go ahead and ended up buying the property 1 day before our wedding. So there we were, owning a rather substantial piece of property, not really sure what to do with it.

Quite quickly we decided to build some kind of accommodation, and during the process the ambitions rose (as they tend to do) and we ended up with a hotel and a restaurant that we named Hotel Stelor. We completed the construction in 6 months and opened up for business in June 2011. Neither me nor my wife have any prior experience in the hotel or restaurant business so we have spent this first summer working really hard and learning loads of stuff. We’ve tried to share some of our experiences in our blog, Stelor Towers (only in Swedish unfortunately).

Do you miss working at an Internet startup?
When we decided to start the hotel business, I was really excited about doing something hands on, building physical stuff and connect with people in person and I still am today. Our hotel business is in fact run very much like a startup, building stuff in a short period of time, experimenting a lot and then rebuild the stuff that didn’t work out. We try to be very open with what we do and how we think and strive to surround us with people that know the things we don’t. I do miss the tech part of an Internet startup though and will hopefully get a chance to work more with technology soon again.

Your hotel is Sweden’s first that offers guests an iPad instead of a TV. What kind of feedback do you get regarding this?
The idea is that we want to offer our guests the best possibilities to take part in the the informational landscape. Hotel Stelor is very much about facilitating social interactions, both physical and digital. And the iPad plays an important role in that. The feedback from our guests has been overwhelmingly great. Most people like laying their hands on an iPad and our guests are not different. Sure, occasionaly guest have asked for the reason why we don’t have TVs in the rooms. But the most common reaction we get about actually not having TVs are positive ones.

What plans do you and your wife have for your hotel business? Any more ideas on how to combine today’s digital lifestyle with the tatmosphere of a 18th century building housing your hotel?
We have lots of ideas about how to develop our hotel business. Our focus is about building a place where meetings between people and sharing of information is the the main thing and we’re constantly trying to come up with ways that make that as easy as possible. We strive to use and develop technology that integrates deeply into the experience of staying at our hotel in a way that enhances it rather than automates it.

During your years at Twingly you saw the social web unfold and evolve. How can you use this kind of knowledge for your hotel business?
We make use of the social web a lot, communicating and getting feedback through a number of different channels. We work a lot with Facebook (http://facebook.com/hotelstelor) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/hotelstelor) and actively encourage our guests to share their experience through sites like Tripadvisor or Facebook Places. From having been part of Twingly and learning from how we’ve used the social web there, I feel I have a rather good sense of what works when communicating through those channels.

In what ways will social media change the hotel and turism landscape? Or won’t it?
I already think it has. The traveling business, being one of the world’s largest consumer industries, can’t ignore the power of the social web, although it has tried for along time. I think the industry as a whole has woken up at last. There are lots of tech driven startups popping up around this field and the big players are spending more and more money trying to harness the power of the social web. Some successfully and others less so, but the interest is there and it is there to stay. The biggest change we’ve seen so far is that people, in recent years, have started to share their experiences with each other on a big scale. This forces the hotels to deliver real value to their guests if they want to survive.

The technology landscape in the traveling industry has been very conservative for along time and is just now beginning to move. I think there are lots of opportunities in this field right now, both with regards to the social web and with technology in large.

What web trends do you think are the most exciting ones right now?
The cloud is truly becoming a reality. People have talked about it for years, but it is now at first that the concept of the cloud is being leveraged for real into both consumer and business products. Your services and your data can be accessed through any device at any time, freeing you of the need of having to worry about whether you have the right device with you or if you’re going to loose it. The only thing you have to worry about is having access to a good Internet connection. Which is of course provided free of charge at any reasonably forward thinking hotel : )


8 reasons why Sweden is a great country for web startups

Have you ever wondered why there are so many Internet startups with roots in Sweden – a country with a rather small population (only 9 million)? For being relatively few people, the country in the north of Europe has been giving birth to a huge number of online services and is home to a lot of innovation in the digital space. And yes, even Twingly has its base in Sweden.

In this post we’ll try to highlight a few of the factors that might have helped to make Sweden become a country that you need to count in when searching for potentially disruptive tech startups.

Global approach from day one due to small population
Many Swedish web services in the consumer business target an international audience from day one. The Swedish market is often simply to small for big ambitions.

Cluster due to a centralized state
Sweden has only three big cities with more than 100.000 inhabitants: Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. That means that a relatively huge part of the daily business and innovation process takes place in those three cities, with the greater Stockholm area – where almost 20 percent of the Swedes live – being the center and a cluster for IT and technology companies, business angels, VCs and talents. Clusters usually have a positive impact on the quantity of companies founded (as the Silicon Valley has proved).

Sweden, country of inventors and entrepreneurs
Inventing things that help to improve the quality of life has always been an area Swedes have put an effort on. That led to a bunch of globally well known Swedish companies such as Ericsson, IKEA, Volvo or Tetra Pak. Inventing things and creating businesses based on those inventions gives you a high social status in the Swedish society, thus it is not a surprise that launching a startup is not the least prioritized option for young (and old) Swedes.

A nation embracing IT
Like other Nordic countries, in Sweden IT is mainly being seen as something positive that can make people’s life better, and you find this insight in most levels of society. For instance, 6 out of 10 companies in Scandinavia have at least one technical person in the management team. That’s 10 percent more than the worldwide average (source, translated). Naturally that mindset has a positive impact on the number of IT and Internet startups being founded.

Good infrastructure
Internet in Sweden is pretty ubiquitous, affordable, and the average speed for both down- and upload is good (and one of the highest in the world).

Availability of Venture Capital
Even though the situation for Venture Capital in Sweden is far from perfect, the amount of Venture capital available in relation to the GDP is higher in Sweden than in the rest of Europe (source; translated).

High quality of life and open society
Sweden is one of the countries with the highest quality of life. Add that to the fact that most Swedes are skilled English speakers and it gets obvious that even though it can be pretty cold in the winter, it’s not too difficult to attract talent to move to Sweden. And that sooner or later benefits any Swedish startup and company expanding and needing more people.

Swedes pick up trends quickly
Many Swedes are paying a lot of attention to trends, which can be picked up extremely quickly. The same goes for new markets and technology. As soon as some new concept, idea or business case appears, it won’t take long until someone wants to try to built something with that, instead of thinking too long about the possible risks.

There are probably many more aspects. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments. And we don’t deny that Sweden has its challenges as well. Not everything is perfect, and there are exceptions to every rule. But simply judging from the quantity (and quality) of the Swedish entrepreneurial outcome, it seems as if the climate for starting your own Internet company seems to be pretty good here in the north.

A handy list of major tech and social media events in Europe

Flickr/LeWEB10, CC licence BY 2.0

The Twingly team enjoys attending tech events and conferences across Europe. Meeting hundreds of great people working with or being interested in the fields of social media, startups and digital culture is the best way to get inspiration, to learn, to collect feedback and to simply have lots of fun.

For our own purpose as well as for you we compiled a list of major startup, tech and social media conferences/events that we either usually travel to, feel that we should attend (but haven’t) or where we know other’s who are enthusiastic about it.

That means this list is probably far from complete (and there might be a slight emphasis on the Nordics). In case you want to recommend an annual major event with focus on the topics mentioned that takes place anywhere in Europe feel free to let us know in the comments.

Please note that some of the events on this list have already taken place for 2011 or won’t happen this year at all. But we figured that this overview could come handy even next year, and those events pausing 2011 might have a huge comeback in 2012.

January
DLD Conference
January, Munich, Germany
Website

February
Lift
Geneva, Switzerland
Website

March
GeeknRolla
London, UK
Website 

Plugg
Brussels, Belgium
Website

Social Media World Forum Europe
London, UK
Website

April
re:publica
Berlin, Germany
Website

SHiFT
Lisbon, Portugal
Website

SIME
Vienna, Austria
Website

The Next Web
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Website

May
GeekGirlMeetup
Stockholm, Sweden
Website (only in Swedish)

Next Conference
Berlin, Germany
Website

SIME
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Website

June
reboot
Copenhagen, Denmark
Website

SIME
Barcelona, Spain
Website

July
TEDGlobal
Edinburgh, Scotland
Website

August
Media Evolution – The Conference
Malmö, Sweden
Website

Sweden Social Web Camp
Tjärö, Sweden
Website (only in Swedish)

September
Arctic15
Helsinki, Finland
Website

PICNIC
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Website

The European Pirate Summit
Cologne, Germany
Website

October
Future of Web Apps Conference
London, UK
Website

SIME
Helsinki, Finland
Website

November
NOAH
London, UK
Website

SIME
Stockholm, Sweden
Website

The TechCrunch Europas
London, UK
(no official event website, coverage on http://eu.techcrunch.com)

December
LeWeb
Paris, France
Website

You can find additional information about most of those events on Lanyrd.

Reloaded: Europe’s 50 most popular startups according to the blogosphere

Photo (CC): Tomas Fano

In the beginning of August last year we published a ranking of Europe’s 50 most popular startups according to the blogosphere. We took this list from the TechCrunch Europe Top 100 index and analysed the buzz these startups were able to create within the global blogosphere based on Twingly blogsearch data.

About half a year later it’s time to for an updated version of our ranking. This time we focused on the time frame between November 20 2010 and February 20 2011. We also updated our list of European startups that were included in our analysis (and removed a few former startups that have recently been acquired).

So here we go again: Twingly presents Europe’s 50 most popular startups according to the blogosphere (with the last ranking’s position in brackets):

01 Spotify (1)
02 Dailymotion (3)
03 Miniclip (16)
04 SoundCloud (5)
05 Tuenti (4)
06 TweetDeck (6)
07 DailyBooth (11)
08 Shazam (10)
09 Netvibes (7)
10 Twingly (8)
11 fring (9)
12 Netlog (19)
13 Stardoll (2)
14 Trigami (17)
15 Jolicloud (42)
16 Tweetmeme (12)
17 Nimbuzz (14)
18 Prezi (-)
19 eBuddy (13)
20 Qype (20)
21 Deezer (22)
22 Jimdo (15)
23 Bambuser (27)
24 Zemanta (33)
25 ShoZu (24)
26 Skyscanner (41)
27 Wonga (37)
28 Swoopo (35)
29 sevenload (23)
30 eRepublik (34)
31 Plastic Logic (31)
32 zanox (26)
33 Fon (43)
34 Layar (21)
35 Voddler (18)
36 Vente-Privee.com (29)
37 We7 (50)
38 Trovit (25)
39 Twenga (46)
40 Zoopla (-)
41 simfy (-)
42 Rebtel (41)
43 Zopa (39)
44 Songkick (-)
45 Huddle.net (-)
46 FigLeaves (30)
47 Doodle (40)
48 Modu (44)
49 Wooga (-)
50 MyHeritage (28)

Notes
Being able to make users and journalists blog about a web startup does not necessarily mean that its products or services are good. Furthermore, consumer oriented web tools and blog centric services usually get more coverage on blogs than business-to-business companies, which is why the list is dominated by these kind of apps. Having said this, publicity is a requirement for succeeding as a tech startup, so the startups in this list seem to be on track regarding user awareness!

In some cases the search results were interfered by Spam and pure SEO postings or articles mentioning the same word, meaning something else. We then had to remove a part of the findings, which led to a lower ranking. When you study the list keep in mind that this is not the one and only, definite ranking, and there might be some startups missing. But it for sure gives you some useful insights into which services are being discussed the most in blogs all over the world.

If your Europe based startup is getting a lot of buzz and is missing in the ranking, or if you know a service that could be popular enough to appear on this list, please let us know in the comments, so that we can include it next time!

30 Startups And The Buzz They Are Getting From the Blogosphere

On Tuesday TechCrunch published a list of “30 Startups People Care About The Most”. It was based on a new service called StartupFollower which allows people to signup for email notifications if the popular (and recently acquired blog) covers a specific startup. After StartupFollower itself got covered on TechCrunch the day earlier, the founder sent the distribution list of startups people have signed up for on the new service to TechCrunch, which created a ranking of the most requested tech startups from it.

Now obviously the TechCrunch ranking is far from official, since it is only based on readers of the blog who opted to signup for notifications on StartupFollower. We decided to do a little reality check and to compare the TechCrunch ranking based on StartupFollower subscriptions with the buzz in the blogosphere.

So we checked the 30 startups from the list with our Twingly Blog Search and compiled a new ranking based on the number of mentions the different web companies got within the past 30 days. As you can imagine the result looks a bit different, even though there are some similarities and some key players which are leading the pack in both lists.

Let’s have a look at the Top 30 Startups and at how many people in the blogosphere mentioned each of them. You find the rank from the TechCrunch list in brackets:

1. Google (5)
2. Amazon (29)
3. Facebook (1)
4. YouTube (17)
5. Twitter (2)
6. Apple (7)
7. Yahoo (27)
8. Digg (15)
9. LinkedIn (11)
10. Evernote (24)
11. Scribd (28)
12. TechCrunch (10)
13. Spotify (26)
14. Foursquare (3)
15. Groupon (6)
16. Zynga (9)
17. Dropbox (21)
18. Yelp (16)
19. Zazzle (25)
20. Gowalla (12)
21. SCVNGR (19)
22. Tumblr (20)
23. Square (23)
24. Quora (4)
25. Yammer (18)
26. OpenTable (30)
27. Qwiki (14)
28. LivingSocial (13)
29. RockMelt (8)
30. Gilt Group (22)

Anything that especially surprised you?

/Martin Weigert

Twingly nominated as one of Sweden’s 25 top technology startups

Deloitte, the largest professional services organization in the world, publishes once a year a ranking called Fast 50 – which is the one and only ranking focusing solely on technology companies from Sweden. Together with the Fast 50 companies Deloitte also acknowledges the 25 fastest growing tech companies from Sweden which were launched between 3 and 5 years ago. This sub-category is called “Rising Stars”, and in this year’s edition – which is the 8th in total – Twingly is one of the nominated companies!

The criteria for the Rising Stars are the same as for the Fast 50, with the only difference being the years of existence. Hence you could call the Rising Stars a ranking for Swedish tech startups, whereas the candidates for Fast 50 are rather well established companies.

Of course we are very proud to be among the top 25 young technology companies from Sweden competing for the number one spot – especially considering many of the other well-known Swedish tech startups nominated by Deloitte: There we have the EpiServer Group, makers of the popular Episerver CMS system, elskling, an up and coming website for price comparison between Electricity providers, or Oxify, which develops Internet access solutions for the public transport sector.

On November 2 Deloitte will host an event at the Modern Museum in Stockholm to present the Fast 50 and Rising Stars ranking and to announce which 2 companies will be Swedens top technology stars! If you want to attend and give us applaud you can register here (Website in Swedish). Martin, Anton, Marcus & Kristoffer will be there from Twingly – make sure to say hi!

Why using Twitter could help your Investor Relations

For companies there seem to be a trillion reasons why they should start using and paying attention to Social Media. The use cases range from creating loyal customers to getting feedback about products and services, from offering an additional channel for customer service to pushing out marketing messages, from informing existing and potential clients/consumers about products and events to staying updated about what competitors are doing. Give yourself a few minutes and you probably will come up with dozens of more reasons.

But there is one benefit of Social Media that is remarkebly absent from all the top lists you find online about why companies should start to use Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, YouTube and so on: To improve investor relations (IR) and to disseminate firm-initiated disclosures and news. By using Social Media channels, especially smaller and medium-sized companies can reach out to existing  and potential Investors and keep them informed.

On IR Web Report, a web site specialized in publishing research and news about online investor relations practices, we found an interesting interview with Hal White, assistant professor of accounting at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Together with a two other researchers from the same school Hal has created an academic paper trying to answer the question whether companies now – while being able to use direct-access information technology – can act as their own information intermediaries.

One of their key findings is that Twitter appears to be an effective way for firms to communicate with investors and to disseminate information to the stock market. And this is especially true for those firms which are too small, insignificant or simply too young to catch the mainstream and industry media’s attention. Funny enough these are the companies that usually have the biggest need to establish investor relations (e.g. technology startups looking for funding).

For people who are enthusiastic about the new ways of communication enabled by the digital revolution – like us at Twingly and probably most of you, our dear readers – this doesn’t come as a big surprise. But as IR Web Report author Dominic Jones states, for many people in the IR community the common believe is rather that Social Media is a waste of time.

In the extensive interview, the researcher Hal White gives some deeper insights into the study the report is based on. The three professors took a sample of technology firms (due to their qualification as early adopters), analyzed their tweeting patterns and looked at whether Twitter messages, especially those based around news-events and press releases, had a significant impact on the information environment of the company. Usually, it had. And usually, tweeting was clearly beneficial for the less visible companies but not so much for the more visible companies that are already getting attention (often with the help of newswires).

Hal White also gives en explanation of why it is mainly Twitter that has been embraced by IR departments. He assumes that this is because of Twitter’s short messaging style, which makes it easy to spread a news even to people on their mobile phones, and to do so in real time. It’s the best way to reach out to investors who often are on the go and who need to be as efficient as possible in their news and information management. The researchers also looked at blogs but found that there was a lot of opinion and two-way-communication rather than a strong focus on distribution of press releases and news (which, as boring as it sounds, is what investors need, at least in the initial stage).

Assuming that the report is right (which we don’t have any doubts on judging from our own experience with using Twitter for Twingly-related news), the best thing you as a small or mid-sized company can do is start using Twitter for publishing your corporate news, following venture capitalists, business angels and other seed investors, serial entrepreneurs, and of course the financial press. Some will follow you back. Let’s see if it will help you to create and improve your investor relations (and eventually get funded).

If you haven’t really used Twitter yet, here, here and here are a few articles you should read before getting started.

/Martin Weigert

(Illustration: stock.xchng)