Chart of the Week: Slush Edition – Top Nordic Digital Companies

Slush kicks off its ninth event in Helsinki this week, attracting some 20,000 attendees from around the globe. Back in 2008, I was part of the first Slush; I remember driving American VCs around Helsinki, when there were just a couple hundred attendees. At the time, I struggled to explain the strengths (and weaknesses) of the Finnish technology ecosystem to them – outside of Nokia, there was little knowledge of the Finnish scene or the companies within it.

Since then, things have gotten a lot easier: I’ve watched as interest in Finland and other Nordic countries has developed, and the Nordic venture ecosystem is now well-known beyond Scandinavia.  In fact, according to an article published this week by Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish), in the past year, Finland’s startups have raised more venture funding against the total size of the economy than startups based in any other European country. Awareness of the Nordic countries has been increasing in key global tech hubs, such as San Francisco, New York City, and London – and this now extends into Asian markets as well; in recent years, Slush has launched sister events in Beijing, Shanghai, and Singapore.

Today, the Nordics represent 2% of the world’s GDP but 9% of the global billion-dollar exits, according to a recent Creandum report. The scene includes a number of unicorns, a healthy influx of early stage startups, and companies at every stage of development in between. And according to Northzone’s Marta Sjogren,“The Nordics have a unique blend of a strong engineering, design, and data culture that goes back many generations, a small tech savvy local market which is a great test bed before going global, and most importantly a product-driven problem solving mindset that starts with the individual and goes all the way up to policymaking. A Nordic startup DNA of sorts is being formed.”

Top Nordic Digital Companies in the U.S.

So, how many Nordic success stories we see in the digital industry (which is most heavily indexed among the Nordic start-ups and their chosen industries today)? We took a look at Verto’s Content Watch data from October 2016 to rank the top 250 publishers in the U.S., including companies creating content and software for PCs as well as for mobile devices. If the same publisher, e.g. Google or King, owns multiple brands, apps, sites, or games, we include these sub-brands for the respective publisher in our analysis and calculation of their reach, engagement, and frequency with American consumers. We categorized each publisher by home country and then ranked publishers by the total number of users their publishers collectively reach in the US, aiming to understand which countries dominate the list.

There were several groundbreaking insights we identified in this analysis:

    • 210 out of 250 top publishers in the U.S. are American-based companies
    • The UK is home to 10 companies on the top 250 list among the U.S. cross-device digital consumers
    • All together, there are publishers (digital media owners) from only 17 countries among the top 250 list – a relatively small proportion of the nerly 200 countries in the world.
    • Nordic countries have 6 publishers altogether among the top 250 list; and each of the four major Nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway) is represented among our list of the top 250 publishers in the U.S.
    • Collectively, the Nordics have a greater number of companies on the top 250 list than Japan (5 companies), Germany (3), or China (3).
    • If you compare the total user base that the Nordic companies reach in the U.S. against the population of the Nordics, Nordic companies collectively reach 6.2 users in the U.S. per capita. The same calculation for UK-based companies is 2.9, Japan-based companies is 0.5, and Germany-based companies is 0.9.

The top category leaders out of the Nordic countries are:

      • Top B2B software – Zendesk, Denmark (reaches 95 million monthly users in the U.S.)
      • Top cross-device consumer brand – Spotify, Sweden (reaches 34 million monthly users in the U.S.)
      • Top mobile-only* publisher – Supercell, Finland (reaches 10 million monthly users in the U.S.) (*King was acquired by Activision and consequently now has non-mobile properties).
      • Top PC-only brand – Opera, Norway (reaches 9 million monthly users in the U.S.)

Verto’s data confirms that Nordic companies are well-represented in the U.S., the biggest Western digital consumer market. And based on the increasing activity in the digital startup scene, these numbers seem set to grow even more over the next years.

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