Here is a list of some interesting deals from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), seen in November. Often overlooked by big US and Western European investors, the region offers many good deals, at much cheaper valuations compared to the US market.
Czech security company AVG has acquired Israel-based photo app startup Flayvr for “several million dollars”. Flayvr is best known for its two photo-centric apps MyRoll and Gallery Doctor. AVG has made efforts recently to expand its portfolio of mobile app companies as it moves into the app design and development market (AD&D). AVG’s most prominent app, AVG Cleaner, tells mobile users when their phone’s space is limited and provides recommendations on media to clean from the phone, such as cache, photos, videos, etc. With the acquisition, similarly functioning Gallery Doctor will be integrated into the AVG Cleaner program. AVG has been making a number of investments through its AVG Ventures arm, including a $60 acquisition of VPN company Privax (known for its HMA! VPN app) in May 2015. Investors in Flayvr include Kaedan Capital, former Microsoft Corporate Vice President Moshe Lichtman, Aviv Venture Capital, iAngels, as well as angel investors.
Russian cyber security startups now have a dedicated accelerator with up to 1 billion rubles (around $15 million at the current exchange rate) potentially invested over the next two years. The effort is backed by Rostec, a major Russian state-owned tech corporation, via its subsidiary RT-Inform, systems integrator I-Teco, and Internet Initiatives Development Fund (FRII in Russian, a $200 million government initiative). The global market for cyber security solutions is expected to be worth a $9.9 billion in 2017. In 2016, more than 60% of the world’s most renowned brands will face problems tied to data leaks, and are expected to double their cyber security budgets.
Estonian-British startup Lingvist, which offers an online platform for speedy language learning, has raised $8 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Japanese e-commerce and online services giant Rakuten, with participation from local investment firm SmartCap, Inventure, Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn and former Atomico partner (and Skype exec) Geoff Prentice. Lingvist, which boasts offices in London and Tallinn, aims to build a tech-driven, adaptive and mathematically optimised way of learning a new language.
OneTwoTrip, the Russian travel booking website operating in Russia, Europe and CIS, has secured $4 million in fresh funding from Vostok New Ventures. The deal was disclosed in the nine-months report of the Swedish fund. Launched in 2011, the startup offers online booking of flight tickets and hotels. The company raised an $8 million round from an undisclosed investor in March 2015. Previously, the startup raised $25 million in two rounds from Phenomenon Ventures, Goldman Sachs and Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström’s VC firm Atomico. It is also said to be backed by venture capitalists Hovhannes Poghosyan and Dmitry Falkovich.
The Ukrainian Redevelopment Fund, a private investment vehicle launched by US businessman and philanthropist George Soros earlier this year, has announced its acquisition of “a significant equity stake” in Ciklum, a major software engineering company operating globally from its main office in Kiev. Founded in 2002 by Danish businessman Torben Majgaard, Ciklum has asserted itself as a leading player in Ukraine’s rapidly-growing IT scene. The company now employs more than 2,500 programmers.