Published: July 30, 2013
Following my article Prague beats Berlin with its tech scene, could challenge London in the future!, I decided to follow the Czech tech a little more. Few weeks ago I was browsing the internet trying to find a list of the top Czech technology companies and start-ups, and it was really hard to find anything good. Either there were lists where startups with 2 people and 200 people would be combined, and it was hard to separate these companies from each other. I decided to use a method of crowd-sourcing and put a bigger list together so international investors, people, and companies could see.
I decided to make 3 lists:
- List of established companies – anything from growth stage, IPO or Exited companies, with an approximate value of over $5MM
- List of international investors in Czech Republic – list of global investors that have actively invested in at least one Czech tech. company
- List of early stage companies – definitely not a full list of early stage companies
One note, this list is not to be made to discuss each part. Yes, a few of the companies below might be in this list and are slightly below. Please lets not discuss this. If you disagree, tweet me @janrezab and I am happy to be open to change my mind and optimize this list.
Czechs (and Slovakia) are the masters of Enterprise Software, Security, and Gaming. Some of these companies are over 10 years old and are quite huge, definitely worth a few billion (AVG alone is worth $1,2B, Avast is similar), so if you consider the rest of the scene is at least $1 – 2B of size all together, we have a $4B market. Yeah, thats a very heavy “guestimate”, but at least 65% accurate (its $3B for sure).
Most established companies – Growth Stage, IPO, Exited
- Enterprise Software
- Moravia IT (1990, Translation Software) – RWS proposed to acquire Moravia IT for $320M
- Y Soft Corporation (2000, Printing solution)
- GoodData (2007, BI)
- Socialbakers (2008, Social Marketing Software)
- AVAST (1988 !, Antivirus)
- AVG (1991, Antivirus, IPO) – merged with AVAST in July 2016
- ESET (1992, Antivirus, OK, its Slovakian, come on :). Lots of these startups are co-founded by Slovaks!)
- Kerio (1997, Security, firewalls)
- Online and mobile
- Slevomat Group (2010, Group buying)
- Kiwi (2012, Travel) – previously Skypicker
Established companies – Venture Stage
- Enterprise Software / B2B Software
- M.Dot App (2011, Software) – acquired by Godaddy in Feb, 2013
- Apiary.io (2011, API) – acquired by Oracle in Jan, 2017
- ZOOM International (1999, Telephony & contact centers)
- Ytica (2015)
- Compelson Labs – MobilEdit (2001, Mobile)
- Icewarp (2001, Emails)
- Netdirect (2001, CMS) – acquired by Allegro Group
- SuperNetwork (2004, Hosting)
- Kentico (2004, CMS)
- eMClient (2006, Enterprise email)
- Webnode (2008, CMS)
- AngelCam (2011, 500 Startups and Plug’n’Play alumni)
- Brand Embassy (2011, Social customer service software)
- Liftago (May 2014 – Funded by Karel Janecek)
- Neuron Soundware
- Keboola (Data agency and software)
- Comprimato (Imaging software)
- Rossum.ai (Data input software)
- Safetica Technologies (2000, Security)
- Invea-Tech (2007, Security)
- Cognitive Security (2011, Security) – acquired by Cisco in Feb, 2013
- 2K Czech (1997, PC, formerly Illusion Softworks, developers of games like Mafia, Hidden & Dangerous, and Vietcong) – acquired by Take 2 Interactive)
- Bohemia Interactive (1999, PC)
- Amanita Design (2003, Mobile, Machinarium game)
- Geewa (2005, Online)
- Craneballs (2008, Mobile, Overkill)
- Madfinger Games (2010, Mobile, Shadowgun, Dead Trigger)
- Warhorse Studios (2011, Computer Games, raised almost $2M on Kickstarter)
- Gamee (2015, Mobile social games network)
- Online and Mobile
- Pixmac (2007, Stock photos) – acquired by Pond5 in Mar, 2013
- Shipito (2007, Ecommerce)
- Netdevelo/Shopsys (2007, Eocmmerce)
- Shoptet (2008, Ecommerce CMS)
- Bigbrands (2009, Ecommerce B2C)
- Tapmates (2010, had equity for example in Yahoo acquired Summly, Piictu, Klip)
Seed to Early Stage Companies (1 man shows up to full companies before Series A)
Yes, this is certainly not a full list. The only condition on this list that I tried to respect that the project is run already “fulltime” by its team.
- Possibly late Early stage (soon on the top list)
- BuddyBet (3MM round, unclear from who)
- Wips (by Cleevio)
- IP Fabric
- Mobile apps
- Big Launcher
- Cera+ (Home care)
- HappyGo (P2P Car rental)
- MySchoolNotebook.com by Flowmedia
- Flow Reader by Wikidi
- Scratch Wars
- IoT Companies
- Angee (Security Camera)
- BigClown (DIY security and IoT kits)
- XTND (Electric skateboard)
- Energomonitor.cz (Smart energy monitoring)
- Data & Social Enterprise Software
- PostHeads by Bubble
- Futurelytics (2012, Predictive analytics)
- Survio (Survey software)
- Gina Software (Geo information)
- Open Brand (Brand platform)
- Nicereply (Support tracking)
- Molo7 (Fashion)
- Designeros (Design network)
- Tripomatic (Trip planner)
- Lingvus (Translation SaaS!)
- Phonecopy.com (Phone copier)
- Leady.cz (Online leads management)
- Take-Place.com (Event management)
- Testomato by Wikidi
- Manta Tools (Data platform)
- RealPad (Software for real estate developers)
- Local eCommerce
- Ordr (by Strv)
International investors active in Czech Republic
Most of these investors are single-investors only so far, we could say they are fishing in Czech Republic and picking the best. But I think they could start being more active.
- Index Ventures – Socialbakers, Gamee
- Earlybird Ventures – Socialbakers
- Fidelity Growth Partners – GoodData
- Andreessen Horowitz – GoodData
- General Catalyst – GoodData
- TA Associates – AVG
- Intel Capital – AVG, Mall.cz
- Warburg Pincus – Centrum Holdings
- Summit Partners – Avast
- BlueYard Capital – SpaceKnow
Czech agency-investors and agency-incubators
Kind of a hybrid between investors and big value-add companies. They help you do the designs/UI, or help with functionality, but they are definitely all-hands, almost at an incubator level.
Startups from Slovakia
- Bigger Slovakian startups
- Piano Media
- Pixel Federation
- Sygic (GPS navigation) – wow, really great company
- Exponea (100+ people, EUR 6M funding)
- Starting Slovakian startups
Notable Czech Only disruptive start-ups
- Seznam.cz – the Czech Yahoo / Yandex
- Centrum Holdings – acquired by Warburg Pincus, sold one more time this year
- Aukro.cz (Owned by Allegro, Naspers)
- Heureka.cz – acquired by Allegro Group
- AAApoptavka.cz – acquired by MAFRA
- Mall.cz – acquired by Allegro
- Damejidlo.cz – Food delivery service
- Rohlik.cz – Food delivery service
Czech incubators and co-working spaces
- CzechAccelerator Boston
- Starcube Brno
- InnovaJet (Czech Technical University – CVUT)
- Paralelni Polis (First crypto-only co-working space)
I am certain there is a huge amount of brewing potential in some of these companies, definitely ready to get their $100 – 500k funding rounds to accelerate.
If you have suggestions, Tweet over to @janrezab, comment on the Facebook update, or mail me, I will add it to the list over time.
I will do my best to try and keep this list UPDATED.
One thing I hope is this list will not spark conversation who is or isn’t on this list, yes its a selection. I was very careful to make sure to add all small regional Socialbakers competitors to avoid all doubts of my bias. I am open to suggestions, changes, and additions!
Thanks to a bunch of people help put together the list.
- End 2013 – Added list of Czech incubators
- Jan 2014 – Added list of Slovakian startups
- Jan 2014 – Updated list of Czech startups
- May 2014 – Added some updates, moved some companies up in the top tier list – Madfinger Games, Futurelytics, CDN77, and Damejidlo.cz
- May 2014 – Moved Click2Stream and Brand Embassy into the “up and coming” category, practically immediate SaaS candidates to jump leap in the next 12 months.
- October 2014 – Major update, reflected a longer list I received, moved up to create a $25+M category (please let me know if you think its accurate and if anyone should move up or down.
- January 2018 – Major update, reflects a lot of feedback, thanks to everyone that helped
Published: July 25, 2013
You might have read my earlier article this week on Google ruining market by too much free software, and then moving towards paid, and might have been thinking: Where was I going with that? I think the other side of the coin is: Google is also a threatened company in its core business model. First lets look at the Google earnings data from its own website:
Google makes almost 30% of its revenue in its ad network (“Network members website”). Thats a lot of money, specifically $ 12,46 billion! Now if I look at the predictions from eMarketer – Current prediction of digital ad revenues is that Google will increase advertising from 32,7 to 38,83 billion. That can certainly be the case, if Google continues to being attractive to publishers.
But what if Google isn’t that attractive to publishers, and publishers have a different option soon? Facebook so far has been only playing and experimenting with ads – see Facebook ads on Zynga.com. The only Facebook play so far is making advertising on Facebook more effecting by releasing FBX and partnering with all the DSP (Demand Side Platform) advertising platforms out there. For those of you that don’t know what a DSP platform is, it’s a platform that rather than being driven by a publisher, its driven by the advertiser and helps him make more effective and better decision, especially used in industries such as travel, ecommerce, and retail.
But what about a deeper, “Facebook adsense/adwords” like play? Facebook has bought the Atlas advertising suite from Microsoft earlier this year, which could theoretically be used as a component for better ad serving, and if I were Facebook here, I would certainly slowly roll-out a competitive product. Why slowly? You have to make sure the demand meets supply and vice versa – in other words, if you get too many advertisers and too small of a network – you have a problem, but even worse, if you have too few advertisers and have too big of a network – the networks won’t want you there.
Now I am in deep belief that Facebook can create more effective and more social advertisements than Google, despite all their efforts around targeting. This means its only a matter of time for Facebook to take away the $ 10+ billion from the ad network from Google. And for Facebook, with its recently announced $ 1,59 billion in Q2 2013 ad sales, adding $ 3+ billion per quarter might be just what they could want!
Soon, the only place Facebook will be able to grow is by taking its own ads and advertisers to other websites, growing and amplifying its network. This is a move they will certainly have to do quite carefully, but with its like widgets and other things available all over the web, I have no doubt they can roll it out. The only last question is really about the users: Will the users not get freaked out about Facebook ads around the web? I won’t, but as we know users & media, this might happen. Facebook must communicate this crystal clear, and add a clear opt-out around social targeting.
Published: July 23, 2013
Everyone at Google probably knows this, but even they and the entire community fails to realizes it – Google ruined quite a lot of paid software (and SaaS) models. Google has dodged the lawsuits that it had around publishers, the media providers, and YouTube around Google News, and generally around “paid content” online, but another discussion that has been mostly in the shadows is Google’s free software and the effect that has on other software companies free… The amount of services that are for free today is just simply too high: Google Docs, Maps, YouTube, Google Analytics, and many others, that have been used extensively by enterprise companies as well. On the other hand, there is movement towards paid – seen by for example Google Maps where now you have to pay beyond a certain amount of requests. Most of Google’s revenue today comes from advertising, and it is said only 5% of its revenue comes from enterprise software. Now I think the 5% ratio is extremely low, I think if we look at where Google develops and acquires today, its mostly the enterprise.
On the paid side, you have for example Google Apps and Google Drive. Lets look at Google Apps first. A Software as a Service model (mostly used for webmail as a parallel to Microsoft Exchange) that can easily take down the likes of Microsoft Exchange / Office one way or another, very easy to set-up, makes perfect sense to run. But Google Apps used to be free up to several GB of space per account, which was good enough for most users. Even though those users can still use it free to some extent, all new users have to be paying for Google Apps.
Another example is Google Maps. Hundreds of millions of people all around the world use Google Maps, it costs a load of money for Google to build this, street view, etc. – they made it a perfect standard to use, with little services around it being used. Maybe the only enterprise competing tool was Waze, one of my taxi drivers even used it instead of Google Maps for its great up-to-date traffic changes and information. Oh wait, Google just bought Waze for $1.3 billion, thats right! I believe that over time, Google Maps could shift into 2 versions, and one could be made a fully enterprise editions for businesses to use, and one free to the customers.
Another one close to my heart, is Google Analytics, Google Analytics is a free Analytics tool, basically designed to give Google power over its customers (advertisers and webmasters), and Google is providing an amazing service for free. I would also like to note here that when Google Analytics (free) came to the market, they really helped consolidate the long-tail of the market, and market leaders such as Adobe Omniture and Webtrends still make a lot of money. Of course, Google offers an enterprise Google Analytics platform now (not so competitive to the two above), but still offers a ton for free. The question is, is this sustainable, and is this not using Google’s power here a bit too much.
All of the above makes Google a master of freemium everywhere in the world. They basically introduce Google Apps, make it free to everyone, everyone goes on it, and suddenly its paid. Google Analytics, getting more into the paid part, and Google Maps, a paid model
Now don’t get me wrong, I actually think thats a great strategy and Google has been very nice to its users (for now?). But thats my point, they have been too nice. Perhaps even beyond the point of business & legal sense. And of course, this niceness, which could be easily branded “abuse of dominance” could be a problem in the future. Abuse of dominance is when a dominant player with over 50% of the market (in Google’s case, thats quite a few markets, starting with online search) uses that position to kill smaller competitors. And even for Google Maps, they have received fines for that behaviour. And more could be coming, EU is looking into Google’s anti-competitive behavior quite a lot, and they could be fined up to $5 billion at the end of 2013. YouTube was fined for being placed too high in search versus its competitors, once again giving dominant-behavior cases to the court. So back to this niceness – I think Google hasn’t abused its dominance as a company yet to B2C users, and thats why users don’t care about this at all, but it is abusing this relation towards other smaller software companies in the market (and publishers, media, and a few other content players, but thats not what this is about, and its mostly a solved area). Google chooses to go into a market hard and rather take the heat (YouTube having all the music videos, and making deals later, where they dealt with a majority of the problems they had), which is tiny compared to the gains it is getting. And don’t get me wrong, I love Google, but nobody else can really do what they have done here, because they have a dominance as a company on the internet market, they are able to push through a lot!
Now think about it. If Google Apps went to that route, and Google is assuming more and more power over your data, you put everything onto Google Drive, then you also have your documents on Google Docs – a traditional thing by companies today. I feel the greatest shift for Google that Google will do next is make Google Docs quite limited (unless you are a company that already pays for Google Apps), and make pretty much every of these services paid. Now I don’t know about you guys, but pretty much everyone around me uses a combination of this, and in the end, it seems, we will all pay Google one way or another. Its the way Google presents it and slowly gets it there is smart, but also, quite cheeky!
To conclude, I think Google has to get into software any way they are able to, and charge the users and companies directly for giving them value added services like Apps & Drive – but be fair and upfront ahead of time, not offer a super-freemium model, as I think that abuses its own power, and is not a very transparent thing to its customers. Of course, Google is not safe, they are being challenged on many front fights (which they chose to fight): The advertising model Google has and is living can be attacked and hurt by too many players on the market such as Facebook with its Ad exchange and many other things to come. Thats what we will talk about next time.
Published: July 17, 2013
Its been almost 6 months from the famous Socialbakers World Tour that happened back in mid February + early March (with a kick-off test event in NYC on Jan 31st). Looking back at it, it was probably the most crazy traveling I did. People even months later asked me if I am “already back”, and wow, it was all just really quick. If you have a truly global company, you might be thinking of doing something like this – so here are a few basic survival tips. First of all, World Tour was planned, executed and invited in a few weeks, using almost no event agencies, organizing everything from Prague and the event manager flew with me, we were always accompanied by the local Socialbakers team. If we don’t count the first test event, it basically meant traveling the world in 18 days, including stops hitting cities in the following sequence (brackets mark stop-over only):
- New York
- Sao Paulo
- Mexico City
- [Los Angeles]
- [New Delhi]
- New York (there was an addition to World Tour where I had to go for 2 days to NY on the “way back” for a CNBC interview
So thats it 15 + 1 (The first NYC was before) cities in like 20 days. In total around 100 000 km in planes (with last Dubai – New York – Prague), around 100 hours in planes incl. the NYC flight. I remember really praying that we will make all of the connections, and 2 of them were VERY close (5 minutes close), and that no airline would cancel or anything.
The following connections were nights on plane where the next day was normally working or directly event:
- New York -> Prague
- Europe -> Sao Paulo
- Los Angeles -> Sydney
- Singapore -> Istanbul
- Istanbul -> Dubai (which was the worst, because the flight is only 4 hours and you don’t really fall asleep)
- New York -> Prague
This means that 6 out of 18 nights were on planes. Sounds crazy? It is. The worst part were these 4 days: Day 1: Event in Singapore, Day 2, mid-day flight to New Delhi and night flight to Istanbul, Day 3: Event in Istanbul, same night midnight -> go to airport and leave to Dubai (VERY short flight, 3 hour delay), Day 4: Event in Istanbul. If you are planning anything similar, do not attempt to reproduce the last 4 days. I remember in Dubai and Istanbul in the dinner part falling asleep on spot when talking to someone (I was talking, and slowly faded away).
The rule of the entire World Tour was to drink only water and non-caffeinated tee on the long tour, eat very well, and do regular exercise. I did the entire world tour airport transfers on my Heelys (shoes with wheels), which was a great way to exercise even on the transporting from event to event. Heelys are great rollers because they really don’t allow your legs to rest for even the slightest moment, making the exercise quite intensive.
Mentally, the traveling was good, it gave you a nice edge and a bit of adrenalin to be traveling all around. It was doable. We always tried to make each event better than the other event. The content was always changed and very localized to each location, tailored with local studies. This was not easy to coordinate or create – meant having 10 different presentations, but luckily with a similar frame.
Physically, we are talking about something else, very soon you feel like an athlete that is optimizing his every hour of every day to survive for the final day of the competition – the problem is, almost each and every day was a competition, slowly taking away your energy. In Dubai, I took a few days off, and 2 weekends during World Tour was something that helped charge me back up.
Other than the hard work and having over 800 people on the conferences, we also had quite some fun time with our local managers all around the world, some local foods. It was a great show.
Would I do this again? Mmmm… I think that if it were longer, I might consider it, the problem is that I don’t want to be away from my 2 small kids much longer, so if I do this, I will do it by continent.
Was it fun? Absolutely, it was amazing, once in a lifetime experience.
In September, the Socialbakers Asia mini-tour is coming: Indonesia, South Korea, and China!
Watch a video recap of the World Tour:
Photo from Paris World Tour, courtesy of guys at Hub Forum:
Published: July 15, 2013
For Socialbakers, besides the key mission to provide marketers more effective tools to run and analyze social media and its effect, its also important to evolve social media marketing itself. As a company, we are now 5 years old, and in this time, we have always been on the front with thought leadership that helped shape the industry to where it is today.
One good example of Socialbakers thought leadership for example in doing social marketers “locally vs. globally”.
You can see this here:
1) Brands Should Act Locally on Facebook – 3 years ago
2) Proof: Local Pages Work better than global ones – 2 years ago
3) Proof: Local Pages Still Work better than global ones – 1 year ago
And of course, they still work better. I remember last year when Facebook allowed global pages to merge as one and launched the new global pages (Kit Kat, Dove, and many others), there was a moment that you couldn’t see local fan counts as (no publicly comparable metrics). This was something that would have killed local Facebook marketing. Now if I know my metrics are not comparable, it doesn’t push me forward as a marketer, because I am just a part of some global number. Facebook quickly understood that really having global pages with one fan count is cool for “SEO” and search ability is not enough. Marketers would be able to hide behind a global curtain of non-performance, slowing regional performance significantly. Facebook reacted and launched the local counts in their platform, which is awesome and one great example how a company can be flexible.
I even remember telling Facebook at the time it would also be best to show global and local fan counts public, that it would be my strong recommendation. I see cases where the “global” count on his page is his local count, and presents it as such to the management – missing enough clarity. The easy option would be to say for example: 1 000 000 global likes, 120 000 likes from Germany.
When Facebook launched these global page changes in the API back on December 20, 2012, a big part of our developer team (about 20 of 75 people including development & product) worked extremely hard for all these things to be launched on Socialbakers. First launched followed in about 12 days on January 2nd. This was hard, working as a team through the holidays to get this done with quite some coordination. We were not only the first company to launch this, we are still the only company to have this live. I remember few of our smaller competitors have asked in May in a forum on “How this is done?”. This really makes you think which company you choose for social marketing, do they have enough fire power to cope with the ever-changing social media market? Are they around 10 – 20 people? Maybe they can’t cope with it. Socialbakers today is 200 people.
Socialbakers constantly needs to stay ahead of the game in what we do, and how we shape the market. This is why we also manually go and help categorize brands in huge categories, today its quite a huge tree of categories, that we are trying to visualize better. We are the only company in the world to have the ranking publicly available and free to use with a community model of category suggestions by our clients and users. You can check for example our “All social media statistics” section on Socialbakers and see categorization. Its not perfect, but certainly will be.
Another wonderful example is Socially Devoted – if you look at what we did there – back in 2011 we started measuring basic customer care metrics. Even though social customer care perhaps isn’t designed as a wanted use-case wanted by social networking platforms, social media is about the people, and people found great comfort in asking questions through social media. When we started this initiative, there were no metrics, there was no official measurement, and still we are the pioneers in this area.
But social media moves constantly, new platforms are emerging, some more and some less successful with customers, and Socialbakers has a big role to reflect all these changes.
As social marketing moved from doing fun applications to really sophisticated running of your page, including each companies owned/earned/paid model in social media. This is the same way we have to be evolving as a company. This is why our Ad Analytics is such an essential part of our Socialbakers platform, and we are going to launch some key innovations in the following weeks there.
The complexities of social media marketing constantly grow, and we are always trying to be the help to marketers to make it simpler. Wish us luck on this journey.