Europe and Russia have a strong crop of established tech high-fliers like Mind Candy, King, Supercell, Rovio, Ozon, Wonga, Just Eat, Spotify, Adyen and Klarna. Informilo is focusing its 2014 Companies To Watch list on the next generation of growth companies. To identify the most promising companies Informilo asked angel investors and VCs to nominate and vote on companies outside their own portfolios. Some are well known, others are below the radar but unlikely to stay there for long. Below find our picks for the Top 25.
Or Yahuda, Israel
What it does: Family tree-building software and services.
Why it’s hot: Available worldwide, in 40 languages. Ranked the #2 most popular genealogy site by ProGenealogists in 2011 and the #3 in 2009and 2010. Has more than 75 million members, 27 million family trees, and 1.5 billion names in family trees.MyHeritage has raised a total of $49 million; in 2008 the company raised $15 million from Index Ventures and Accel Partners; in November 2012, the company raised $25 million in a round led by Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP). MyHeritage has also been on the acquisition trail, buying more than nine competitors or complementary providers in the past six years. The company expects revenues to continue growing at year-over-year rates above 100%.
New York, NY, U.S.
What it does:Content discovery platform.
Why it’s hot:"Content marketing" — creating and sharing content to engage current and potential consumer bases — is gaining traction. Outbrain is well-positioned for a shift to a greater emphasis on content; it's installed on more than 90,000 blogs and websites, and serves more than 14 billion page views a month, all pointing to quality content on its network of publishers. American Express, Proctor & Gamble, GE and General Mills use it as part of their marketing strategy to reach target audiences.
Palo Alto, CA, U.S.
What it does:Offers online businesses social infrastructure to integrate social network functionality throughout their web properties.
Why it’s hot:Works with more than 650 enterprises, including 44 of the top 100 websites. Gigya reaches 1.5 billion unique users per month — nearly two-thirds of the global internet population. At yearend 2012 the company nearly tripled its sales growth from 2011 and recorded its largest quarter ever, with 33% quarter-over-quarter growth in Q4. In September Gigya raised a $25 million funding round, bringing the total raised to $70 million in venture funding. Social infrastructure has become a requirement for online businesses; Gigya’s approach of offering everything a site needs to be social puts it in a good position for future growth.
Tel Aviv, Israel
What it does: Free publishing platform for websites, Facebook pages and mobile sites.
Why it’s hot: IPO'd on NASDAQ in early November 2013, in the largest U.S.-listed Israeli deal in years, at a valuation of $750 million. Wix had $34.1 million in revenues in the first six months of 2013 and net losses of $10.1 million. It claims 14 consecutive quarters of growth. The company has more than 37 million users; more than 3,000 mobile sites are created each day. Last year it launched “FB eStore,” which allows companies to take payments, via PayPal, directly on their Facebook fan pages. This month it launched new tools for mobile site design, helping its users take advantage of the shift to mobile for day-to-day activities and payments.
What it does: An online marketplace to help businesses find fast finance, and investors get better returns.
Why it’s hot: In October 2013 UK-based Funding Circle raised $37 million in Series C funding from previous investors Union Square Ventures and Index Ventures as well as from Accel Partners and Ribbit Capital, bringing total funding to just over $58 million. It also announced a merger with San Francisco-based Endurance Lending Network, enabling Funding Circle to expand into the U.S. More than 1,000 businesses have been funded, with a total loan value to date of $250 million. Now lending more than £1 million a month, usually in tranches of £5,000 to £100,000. Tapping into the trend for peer-to-peer lending.
What it does: Social sound platform where anyone can create sounds and share them.
Why it’s hot: SoundCloud allows sound creators to instantly record or upload original audio content, embed sound across websites and blogs, share publicly and privately, receive detailed analytics, plus get feedback from the community directly onto the waveform. It now reaches 250 million people per month. In January 2013 SoundCloud raised an undisclosed amount in a round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. GGV Capital also participated. In October it announced a partnership with Instagram to enable users to upload their photos as album art for their playlists, and said it had simplified its premium subscription, which helped boost growth.
Nacka Strand, Sweden
What it does: World’s second largest VoIP provider.
Why it’s hot: Withmore than 23 million users worldwide and revenues of $78 million in 2012, Rebtel is growing fast and is highly profitable. In December the company launched Sendly, an app that allows anyone to top up prepaid phone users almost anywhere in the world. Earlier in 2013 it brought out the Re:beat app, which allows users to send their heartbeats to a loved one.
What it does: A trusted community marketplace that connects drivers with empty seats to passengers looking for a ride.
Why it’s hot: BlaBlaCar, which helped pioneer this space, has five million members across 10 countries and transports more than 700,000 people every month, creating an entirely new, people-powered transport network. The company claims over 24.3 million seats have been offered since January 2009, and over 1.8 billion miles shared. In 2012 BlaBlaCar raised $10 million from Accel Partners and existing investors ISAI and Cabiedes & Partners, bringing total funding to €12.5 million. Its business is proving far more successful than those of copycats in the U.S.
New York, NY, U.s.
What it does:Content distribution and monetization platform.
Why it’s hot:Taboola is a leading content distribution and discovery platform, serving three billion daily recommendations to over 300 million monthly visitors on publisher sites that include USA Today, TMZ, Time and The New York Times. Started by "a bunch of geeks [who were in] the Israeli army, passionate about the unique problems that can be solved with advanced mathematics," in February 2013 the company raised another $15 million in funding from Pitango VC, Evergreen Venture Partners, WGI Group, and TheMarker. This rounds brings total funding to $40 million; it will fund more employees and new offices in strategic locations.
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
What it does:Social investment network.
Why it’s hot: Three million traders in more than 200 countries have placed more than 50 million trades through eToro's award-winning OpenBook and WebTrader platforms since January 2012. Traders can learn from each other, share live trading information and use their collective trading power. Received Best of Show at FinovateFall for its Social Trading Index, which enables traders to create their own indices and make them available to the eToro investment network. In July eToro added fractional stock investment to its platform, enabling users to invest in the shares of large brands.
What it does: Award-winning global platform for social video advertising. It distributes video across platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, premium publisher sites, influential blogs and mobile applications.
Why it’s hot: The Unruly Viral Video Chart has tracked 365 billion video views since 2006. With an engaged audience of over a billion consumers, across the full range of mobile, tablet and second-screen devices, Unruly has delivered, tracked and audited 3.5 billion video views across 3,000+ social video campaigns for over 400 brands including Volkswagen, Dove, Coca-Cola, T-Mobile, Microsoft, Warner Bros and adidas. Its mission: to deliver the most awesome social video advertising campaigns on the planet. In January 2012, received a $25 million Series A investment — the largest ever for a private company in the social video space. Estimated 2012 revenue: £17.6 million; growth has averaged 157%.
Kirkland, WA, U.S.
What it does: Cloud-based enterprise resource planning and financial software.
Why it’s hot: Acumatica aims to make its Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution the platform of choice for small and medium-sized businesses. Founded in 2007, with Russian roots, the company now has offices in Washington DC, Moscow, and Singapore. The company has customers in 30 countries. At the end of November 2013, Acumatica raised $10 million from Runa Capital and Almaz Capital to support partner development and expansion into Asia and Europe. Sales continue to grow more than 300% annually.
What it does:Language technology experts.
Why it’s hot: Builds apps and technology that learn from their users to make text entry easier, faster and more productive. SwiftKey is one of the best-selling Android apps in the world. In 2013 and 2012, it spent more days as Google Play’s No.1 paid download than any other app. Currently supports 61 languages. In September 2013 SwiftKey raised $17.5 million in a Series B round from Index Ventures, Octopus, Cambridge Capital Group and angels, bringing total funding to $21.6 million.
What it does:Open source distributed enterprise search engine.
Why it’s hot: A popular open source search solution used by thousands of enterprises in virtually every industry. In February 2013 Elasticsearch raised $24 million in Series B financing from Index Ventures, existing investor Benchmark Capital and new investor SV Angel bringing total funding to over $34 million. It also announced that it has passed a total of two million downloads at that time.
Plzeň, Czech Republic
What it does:Social media analytics platform.
Why it’s hot: Socialbakers allows brands to measure, compare, and contrast the success of their social media campaigns with competitive intelligence. As of November 30, 2013, Socialbakers hadmore than 1,800 clients in over 100 countries. Facebook has awarded Socialbakers 3 Preferred Marketing Developer badges. More than 20% of the Global Fortune 500 use the company's social analytics platform.
What it does: Make-it-yourself computer.
Why it’s hot: Kano is a computer and coding kit powered by the Raspberry Pi. Its Kickstarter campaign raised more than $1 million in November 2013 from nearly 12,000 backers, including Steve Wozniak. It aims to make computing "as easy as Lego." The kits cost $99 and include a Pi, a keyboard and other peripherals, and software to help users get started.
What it does:Foreign currency transfer services.
Why it’s hot: TransferWise keeps currency transfer costs down by using the real exchange rate and charging a low service fee. Taavet Hinrikus, a co-founder, was one of Skype's first employees, and calls TransferWise “the Skype of money transfers.” The company says it has helped its customers to make foreign exchange transfers totaling a combined £125 million so far, half of which were made in the past six months. TransferWise plans to double the number of currencies it supports, to 20.The company is backed by IA Ventures, Index Ventures, Kima Ventures, Seedcamp and The Accelerator Group. In May 2013, Valar Ventures, Peter Thiel’s VC fund, led a $6 million round for TransferWise, bringing the total raised to $7.35 million.
What it does: Europe’s answer to Square, it offers small vendors a way to process payments via an iPhone or Android app and a card reader.
Why it’s hot: It’s not cost-effective for small vendors to have full card-processing machines and services so this app-plus-reader makes modern commerce available to the smallest of stores. iZettle is currently in seven European markets, plus Brazil and Mexico, and has nearly $50 million in investment from American Express and MasterCard. Recently introduced a new "smart rate" system, where the percentage of each transaction kept by iZettle drops from 2.75% to 1.5% as the number of transactions processed rises. Differentiating from others by providing free analytics.
Reading, UK (& San Francisco, U.S.)
What it does: Filtering and data mining software that targets social media.
Why it’s hot: Datasift enables companies to track and filter trending topics, sentiment and geolocation data from a number of social media sources, for a variety of business uses. In 2012 it raised €4.7 million funding from IA Ventures and GRP Partners, bringing the total raised to $15 million. It also has data partnerships with Lexalytics and Klout, and in December 2013 signed Sina Weibo as a new data source.
Under the Radar
What it does: Specialist e-commerce platform.
Why it’s hot: Tizaro is an e-commerce company for maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) products. It offers access to over 500,000+ scientific, industrial, & business lines across 4,000 brands. The company ships to any destination through any viable mode of transport. Industrial supplies is a multibillion-dollar market with 60% to 70% product margins that is ripe for disruption. Sources say tier-one venture firms and a big-name Valley firm are circling.
What it does: Provider of capital.
Why it’s hot: CapitalAid is a new provider of capital to small and medium-size businesses trading on electronic invoicing networks. Its service aims to address the cash-flow problems faced by most businesses by offering them instant payment on their invoices with a ONECLICK solution covering the entire approval process. The company aims to disrupt the current credit market by offering instant cash against invoices — cheaper and faster than any bank can do today. In September Tradeshift, an all-in-one e-business platform, announced a new deal with CapitalAid to launch a $3 billion factoring business to help ease lending to SMEs. The deal will fund B2B transactions on the Tradeshift platform across all of Europe with a strong focus on the UK.
What it does: Improves yield for e-commerce merchants.
Why it’s hot: Yieldify allows users to maximize opt-in rates and revenue from visitors leaving users' websites. The company's technology monitors user behaviour patterns and detects when a visitor is about to leave a site. Once detected, a personalized overlay message invites the user to leave contact information. Client experience has shown that this unobtrusive communication increases the opt-in rate to 5%-30%. This translates into a real increase of 1,000%-6,000% (average opt-ins are typically just 0.5%).According to sources the company has attracted some 300 customers in six months.
What it does: Data-as-a-service platform.
Why it’s hot: This platform collects, connects, extends and refines unstructured and structured data to understand it quickly and identify anomalies.Recently won the Salesforce Innovation Challenge "Best Rising Star 2014 award – Most Innovative Company." Customers include BT; Johnson & Johnson; the National Health Service; and HP. Sources say revenues are growing rapidly.
What it does: Payment card processing.
Why it’s hot: After signing up over 20,000 customers in its first two years, Paymentsense became the UK’s largest merchant service provider. It now has offices in London, Boston and Mumbai and a customer base of over 30,000 who process over £3 billion worth of card transactions per year. The company is continuing to grow at an incredible rate and is now the 24th fastest-growing business in Europe and seventh fastest-growing tech company in the UK.
What it does: Artificial intelligence company.
Why it’s hot: DeepMind combines the best techniques from machine learning and systems neuroscience to build powerful general-purpose learning algorithms. Co-founded by Demis Hassabis, a computer game designer, AI programmer, neuroscientist and world-class chess player; Shane Legg; and Mustafa Suleyman, the company is backed by Peter Thiel’s Founder’s Fund. Its first commercial applications include simulation, e-commerce and games.