Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Spotify Acquired Blockchain Startup Mediachain

Via Business Insider:

Spotify has announced that it has acquired blockchain startup Mediachain for an undisclosed amount.

The New York-based startup raised $1.5 million from venture capitalists Andreesen-Horowitz and Union Square Ventures, according to Crunchbase.

The startup was building a distributed database linking original creators and authors to the content they create. It started with photography, partnering with Getty Images and the Museum of Modern Art, and had the goal of expanding into all kinds of media.

A blog post announcing the startup's funding round said: "Imagine being able to connect with the artist of a viral GIF you see in your feed, learn the history or origin of any image, or automatically reward a musician whenever you press play".

In a press release Spotify said: "The Mediachain team will join our New York City offices and help further Spotify's journey towards a more fair, transparent and rewarding music industry for creators and rights owners".

In a blog post Mediachain explained its team has past experience in the digital music industry. The startup's CTO, Arkadiy Kukarkin, was the first engineering hire at HypeMachine and co-founder Jesse Walden previously ran an artist management firm.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Russian Mathematicians Decoded The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript

Via Disclose.tv:

The CIA tried to decipher it and failed. The FBI tried to break the code and also failed. Academics, truly intelligent cryptologists and people all over the world have been trying for 600 years to decipher a mysterious book known as the Voynich manuscript that is written in an unbreakable code; some theorize it was written by foreigners. The chess is finally over. A team of Russian mathematicians says they solved the enigma of the manuscript. And he says …

Not so fast. A breakthrough like this must be revealed slowly. The manuscript is nominated for the anti-revolutionary Polish tsarist and book dealer Wilfrid Voynich, who bought it in 1912 in a Jesuit college outside Rome. The codex was illustrated with radiocarbon datings from medieval Italy between 1404 and 1438. The photos are mostly herbs and plants, along with other pharmaceutical, astronomical or biological objects. Writing ... well, writing is gibberish.

UNTIL NOW...

Mathematicians of the Institute of Applied Mathematics deciphered the Voynich manuscript, now preserved at the Yale University's Beinecke Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts, with a technical code break. They first suppressed all the vowels and spaces, turning the Codex into what looked like a very long Russian name. That, obviously, was not the solution. But believe it or not, it was close.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Icelandic Is At Risk Of Becoming An Extinct Language — And Technology May Be To Blame

Via Business Insider:

The people of Iceland, settled by Norsemen over 1,100 years ago, have developed a unique dialect based on Old Norse.

Having preserved many ancient elements that are now lost to the rest of the Nordics, Icelandic (like the Sami language in northern Scandinavia) is distinct also because of its inseparable bond with life at the edge of the Arctic. Hundslappadrifa, for example, means "heavy snowfall with large flakes occurring in calm wind", notes Egill Bjarnason at Associated Press.

But as the language is spoken by fewer than 400.000 people in an increasingly globalized world, many linguistics experts have started to wonder if Icelandic can survive the widespread use of English, which is “boosted by mass tourism and voice-controlled artificial intelligence devices coming into vogue”, says Bjarnason.

Former President Vigdis Finnbogadottir told The Associated Press that Icelanders must take serious steps to protect its language.

"Otherwise, Icelandic will end in the Latin bin", she warned.

She is not the country’s first president to champion a proactive stance to preserving the Icelandic language. In the 19th century, when the island nation belonged to Denmark, Icelandic vocabulary and syntax were heavily influenced by Danish.

Since Iceland became fully independent in 1944, both presidents and other independence movements have seen language as key to preserving the national identity.

But now, worries keep mounting for this very particular Viking language.

"The less useful Icelandic becomes in people's daily life, the closer we as a nation get to the threshold of giving up its use", said Eirikur Rognvaldsson, a language professor at the University of Iceland to AP.

Rognvaldsson has conducted the largest study to date looking into the use of Icelandic language, with 5.000 respondents.

"Preliminary studies suggest children at their first-language acquisition are increasingly not exposed to enough Icelandic to foster a strong base for later years", he said.

Here are the main indicators of the decline of the Icelandic language, according to AP:

1. Deteriorating Icelandic skills, starting in school

“Teachers are already sensing a change among students in the scope of their Icelandic vocabulary and reading comprehension”, notes Bjarnason.Teachers are even hearing English being spoken among students, according to a local teacher.

Moreover, most students are no longer assigned the Saga of Icelanders, medieval literature that chronicles the early settling of Iceland. It’s been a standard coming-of-age rite for teenagers to be able to fluently read these epic tales, originally written on calfskin.

2. The dark side of tourism

In the past years, tourism has boomed and become the country’s single biggest employer. According to analysts at Arion Bank, one in two new jobs in the sector is being filled by foreign labor, which indicates that Icelandic is diminishing in importance.

And unfortunately there really aren't that many expats who would be ready to learn Icelandic.

3. Digital technologies and voice-controlled devices

Icelandic is among the least-supported languages in terms of digital technologies (along with Irish Gaelic, Latvian and Maltese), according to a recent report assessing 30 European languages.

Asgeir Jonsson, an economics professor at the University of Iceland, says that this accentuates brain drain in the country. He sees the problem compounded by new voice-recognition devices that do not understand Icelandic, because it's too complicated.

"Not being able to speak Icelandic to voice-activated fridges, interactive robots and similar devices would be yet another lost field".

It would cost about 1 billion Icelandic krona, or almost $9 million, to fund an open-access database that could get Icelandic accepted as a language option, according to Iceland's Ministry of Education.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spotify Has Signed Its Second Big Licensing Deal

Via Business Insider:

Spotify has agreed another major licensing agreement to ease its way to IPO - this time with indie label representatives Merlin.

Merlin represents a bunch of smaller labels like Beggars Group, whose artists include Radiohead, and Domino Records, which looks after Arctic Monkeys.

Crucially, the deal means indie artists can release new albums to Spotify's paying users first, if they want to. Free users would have access up to a fortnight later. Spotify came to a similar arrangement for its first licensing agreement with Universal, announced earlier this month.

According to Spotify's press release, artists will also have "improved marketing and advertising opportunities, and enhanced access to data".

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said: "Indie music has been a huge part of our success since day one & I am super happy to say we have a new, multi-year deal with Merlin".

Charles Caldas, Merlin's CEO, added: "Merlin was a launch partner to Spotify back in 2008, and our partnership has thrived ever since.This new agreement lays the path to future sustainable growth for us both, and we look forward to remaining an integral part in the service's continued success".

Spotify's getting its house in order for a rumoured IPO

The order in which Spotify is announcing its licensing deals is interesting. The company is trying to renegotiate its agreements with record labels ahead of a reported IPO, but has only signed two out of four main partners so far.

Universal was the first to sign a deal which, controversially, would allow artists to release albums to Spotify Premium first. The other two major labels are Sony and Warner, which have yet to announce deals.

Mark Mulligan, veteran analyst at Midia Resarch, told Business Insider at the time that Universal had a track record of being "the ice breaker on new deals", citing its 2006 partnership with music downloads service SpiralFrog as an example. He said Universal's Spotify deal would lead to a "domino effect" where the other labels would quickly jump on board.

A key point of negotiation, Mulligan said, would be reducing the amount of revenue Spotify has to pay rightsholders, even if it's a tiny reduction. This allows it to go to potential investors and show that it still has control of its business, even though it's hugely dependent on its label partners to provide its music catalogue.

In return, however, Spotify will have to demonstrate it can grow, Mulligan said. "That's the only way this [streaming] model starts to evolve", he said.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Volvo Will Produce Its First Electric Car In China – The World’s Largest Market For EVs

Via Business Insider:

At a car exhibition in Shanghai, Volvo’s CEO Håkan Samuelsson revealed that the Volvo’s first electric car will be produced in China, Expressen reports.

Considering that China is one of Volvo’s most important markets, and increasingly so, and that the country is also the world’s biggest market for electric cars, the decision does make a lot of sense. Expressen does point out, however, that Volvo’s increasingly common practice of producing models exclusively in China to export to the rest of the world could prove a costly stratagem as President Trump considers increasing tariffs on US imports from China.

More surprisingly, Volvo, also announced that the EV would be built on the car-manufacturers smaller platform corresponding to the 40-series car models, which goes against previous communications about an electric SUV.

Volvo has previously declared its electric ambitions to be one million EV’s and hybrids sold by 2025. The electric car to be produced at the Luqiao factory is expected to reach the market in 2019.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Swedish Government Just Presented The New Budget - Here Are The Main Points

Via Business Insider:

Today, Sweden's Minister for Finance Magdalena Andersson presented the government's spring budget at the Riksdag. The budget came with minor changes directed towards four objectives: decreasing unemployment, improving educational results, improving national security and continuing to work towards a better climate.

Here are the main points of the budget according to the government's website:

Reinforcement of the Swedish Police Authority, SEK 700 million

Reinforcement of total defence, SEK 500 million

Increased funds to maternity services and women's health, SEK 500 million

Increased investment in mental health services for children and young people, SEK 100 million

Reinforcement of social care for children and young people, SEK 150 million

Increased funds to schools with a low percentage of students eligible for national programmes, SEK 500 million

Reinforcement of the upper secondary Introduction Program, SEK 150 million

Reinforcement of the Climate Leap, SEK 500 million

Though economists are reacting to the budget with little surprise, the opposition has voiced critique against not pursuing more major reforms at a time when the Swedish economy is strong, employment is at record levels, and the Swedish public debt is at its lowest in 70 years, and expected to continue shrinking with the government surplus in the upcoming years.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sweden’s Leading Department Store Had A PR Hiccup After Being Hit By Terrorist Truck — Here’s What It Should Have Said Instead

Via Business Insider:

The truck that drove into crowds in central Stockholm last Friday ended its murderous journey by crashing into the corner of one of Sweden's largest department stores, Åhléns, and catching fire.

The day following the attack, as Åhléns was closed for repair work, an email was sent to customers expressing the company's values of an open society.

But it also said there would be a 50% discount on smoke-damaged products when the store was due to open Sunday.

Instantly, this kicked of a public outcry.

The announcement of a “smoke-damage” sale were met by comments questioning how Åhléns possibly could even be thinking about making profits on Friday’s tragedy.

As a first reaction, Åhlens’ CEO Gustaf Öhrn responded to the comments by stating that the decision was in line with the company’s values of openness and resistance to fear and that the sale was going ahead – no matter the reactions.

However, by Sunday morning they had changed their mind, and announced that they would push the opening another day.

Expressing regret for the initial email, Åhléns said it had acted in a rush and that they were “deeply miserable by both the decision and the email”. Åhlens’ distanced itself from the claims that their motive would have been to make profits of the event.

“People probably didn’t understand why Åhléns acted this way. It wasn’t bad itself, but it was the way in which they communicated it” explains Johan Almquist, CEO for the branding strategy company Grow, to SvD.

According to Almquist, the anger arose when the terror attack got associated with money, due to an unclear message from the department store. Furthermore, he points out that the decision seemed rushed.

“If they had to get rid of the damaged products fast due to practical reasons it would have been better to put them on sale, but donate the money to a cause linked to what happened” Almquist suggests.

Another advice he shares with SvD, aimed at other companies that he hopes will learn from this incident, is to really think about who you are and what values underpin your business. That decreases the risk for this type of mistakes.

However, Almquist thinks that neither Spendrups nor Åhléns will be hurt by the events in the long run.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Chinese, Finnish Presidents Meet Winter Sports Athletes

Via Xinhuanet:

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto met skaters' representatives from the two countries here Wednesday evening, with both sides pledging to enhance cooperation in winter sports.

The athletes just attended the World Figure Skating Championships 2017, which ran from March 29 to April 2 in Helsinki, Finland.

Xi congratulated Finland on hosting a successful sporting event and commended the athletes for their outstanding performance.

He noted that sports exchange is an important bridge in promoting the China-Finland friendship, saying that China has a lot to learn from Finland as the Nordic country excels in winter sports.

The two countries should take the opportunity of Beijing hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in winter sports, thus promoting their respective sports development as well as the health of both peoples.

Niinisto said that Finland is willing to share experiences and deepen cooperation with China in winter sports and games preparations.

He added that Finland supports China in hosting a successful Winter Olympics.

The Chinese duo of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong took gold in the pairs competitions at the just-concluded World Figure Skating Championships, while Jin Boyang of China won the men's singles bronze medal.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

China, Finland Agree To Advance Ties, Deepen Cooperation

Via Xinhuanet:

China and Finland agreed Wednesday to establish and promote a future-oriented new-type cooperative partnership, with both sides pledging to enhance political mutual trust and deepen pragmatic cooperation.

During talks between visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto, the two heads of state stressed that to build a more forward-looking and strategic bilateral relationship that keeps pace with the times is in the fundamental interests of both countries and their peoples.

"China and Finland are good friends and partners who respect each other, treat each other as equals and enjoy mutually-beneficial cooperation", Xi said. "The peoples of our two countries have always cherished a friendly sentiment toward each other".

Noting that the development needs of China and Finland fit well with each other, Xi called on the two sides to increase high-level exchanges, build up strategic mutual trust, explore potentials for cooperation and give support to each other in development.

Niinisto expressed warm welcome to the Chinese president for his visit on the occasion of the centenary of Finland's independence.

Finland highly values China's achievements in development and its important role in international affairs, he said.

The Finnish side hopes to carry out more high-level contacts and exchanges in all areas with China, and deepen cooperation in economy and trade, investment, innovation, environmental protection, tourism, winter sports and the Arctic affairs, as well as within the framework of the Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative, Niinisto said.

Finland also wants to strengthen communication and coordination with China on major international issues and push for an even closer cooperation between the European Union and China, he said.

The B&R Initiative was put forward by President Xi in 2013, aiming to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Swedish Billionaire Who Met “Egocentric” Trump: He Will Be Out Of Office In Four Years

Via Business Insider:

Sweden’s 44th richest person, real estate magnate Sven-Olof Johansson has aired his opinions of USA:s president Donald Trump. Johansson met Trump back in the 80’s, when buying construction services from one of his companies.

While he was cautiously optimistic about Trump's ability to affect change right after the election, Johansson has since changed his views.

Sven-Olof Johansson wasn’t impressed by Trump - but thinks he is “efficient”

”He is a very, very egocentric person and not at all pleasant to deal with. But he is efficient”, said Johansson to Svenska Dagbladet.

He was convinced Trump would tone down his flamboyant style and boost the American economy by deregulating the financial sector and launching infrastructure programs.

After 70 days of President Trump, that view has changed

A few months in, the effect has been quite the opposite, according to Johansson. Consumer uncertainty has led to saving instead of spending, leading to stalling car sales and retail spending. Moreover, many of Trump's Wall Street reforms are unlikely to pass.

Johansson thinks it will be interesting to see how Trump is going to react to the “political wall” he faces, considering that the American billionaire is used to getting his way, writes Veckans Affärer (VA).

But Johansson doesn’t think Trump can hold onto power beyond a first term

”I think he only intends to do the changes he has commited to, and that he won’t be interested to serve another four-year term”, he told VA.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Putin Is Keen On Meeting Trump — In Finland

Via Business Insider:

Russia's President Vladimir Putin says he would be keen to meet up with Trump in conjunction with a potential Arctic Council summit Finland, where the Nordics would participate together with fellow members U.S., Canada, and Russia.

"If it happens, I would be happy to participate", Putin said in a speech in Archangelsk, according to Interfax.

Finland is to take over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in May. It has been reported that Finland's President Sauli Niinistö is planning a summit in order to ease geopolitical tensions.

If the meeting were to happen, it would be the first time Putin would meet USA:s new President Donald Trump.

Putin said the two will otherwise be meeting when the G20 group of nations convene in Hamburg this summer.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bad Air Quality Causes 430.000 Deaths A Year In Europe - But This Finnish Startup Has A Drone-Mounted Solution

Via Business Insider:

Finland is well known for its beautiful, unspoiled nature. Last year the World Health Organisation announced that Pallas, in the North of the country, has the cleanest air on earth. So clean in fact that you can even buy it by the can (yes, really!).

Compare that with London, for example, where 9.000 people a year die as a result of air pollution (Europe-wide it caused 430.000 deaths in 2016). Air pollution, it seems, is a serious problem. And it’s one that cleantech startup Aeromon is working on solving.

The solution is to measure air quality with drones.

The Finnish company is using drone-mounted sensors to change the way emissions are mapped and monitored. Their modular gas sensors and cloud analytics platform are able to provide real-time data on industrial emissions. They have sensors for 70 different gases, including sulfur dioxide, nitric oxide, methane and nitrogen dioxide (the latter alone accounts for 71,000 premature deaths a year in Europe).

Measuring emissions with drones provides a unique take on this problem. It helps to locate emissions that would otherwise go unnoticed - drones can get to places near impossible to access by other means. Another key aspect is speed. These drones can map and analyse large areas a lot quicker than can be done on foot.

From an environmental perspective this means that emissions and leaks can be detected much earlier on, as well as in areas where they were not previously thought to exist. This minimises the overall effect of potentially harmful (and indeed lethal) gases to both humans and the nature around us.

Aeromon was founded to solve the problem of measuring maritime emissions.

Aeromon was launched in 2015. It’s fully funded by its co-founders, who act as angel investors for the business, and also have a hand in the day-to-day running of things. In terms of business areas, Aeromon’s focus is currently on marine emission monitoring, industrial & environmental emissions, and health & safety.

They’ve already completed several successful pilot programmes too.These include work with the oil and gas industry, an international project on shipping emissions in the Arctic, and work on Helsinki’s Ämmässuo waste treatment center.

Jouko Salo, one of Aeromon’s co-founders and chairman, relates how the company came about from the fact that there was no technology available for monitoring emissions from ships sailing near coastlines. This is a crucial point given that maritime transport currently accounts for 2.5% of all CO2 emissions worldwide. The EU is looking to clamp down on this with stricter regulation on how ports report their annual emissions, which comes into force next year.

Whilst increased regulation is certainly a step in the right direction, it only goes so far. Salo is acutely aware of this, and it’s also part of the reason Aeromon was founded. As he points out, “It’s obvious that environmental regulation without enforcement is void of meaning”. Access to data makes enforcement possible.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Four Things You Need To Know About Ericsson’s Crisis — And The Urgent Pivot To Catch Up With Nokia And Huawei

Via Business Insider:

Ever since Ericsson’s previous CEO, Hans Vestberg, was fired last summer, questions have arisen regarding the Swedish network giant's future direction.

Ericsson's latest quarterly results has confirmed that the uncertainty has translated into market share losses in core businesses. The company's new CEO, Börje Ekholm, faces the daunting task of giving new direction to a company in crisis.

1. Ericsson's first quarter results revealed major asset impairments

An Ericsson presss release from Monday reveals that the Swedish network giant’s assets are looking at impairments that affect the results to the tune of 3-4 billion Swedish krona. This is caused mainly by development costs in business segments Media and IT & Cloud, and will not affect first quarter cash flow, according to Dagens Industri (Di).

In total, first quarter impairments and restucturing costs will negatively affect Ericsson's assets with 12 to 15 billion Swedish krona ($1,4-1,7 bn), according to Di.

2. Nokia and Huawei are gaining speed

Ericsson continues to lose market share in its Networks business to chinese Huawei; not only in China, but also internationally. Furthermore, Finnish archrival Nokia is also gaining ground on Ericsson, writes Di.

Ericsson’s problems are stemming from uncertainty in its business strategy. Moreover, the company's technical capabilities are not competitive enough, says an anonymous source to Di.

3. The CEO is announcing a new strategy to counter the crisis

The company’s new CEO, Börje Ekholm, has announced a "more focused business strategy", and a reshuffling of the management team.

"We are going through a period of change, and we need to make some changes", Ekholm said, emphasizing that the focus will purely be on customers going forward.

A new restructuring plan will cost the company some 6-8 billion SEK ($0.7 - 0.9 bn), and it will mainly focus on new investments in the Network business segment.

“They are in a hurry. Creating a new change strategy is a separate thing than putting it into action and creating results”, said an anonymous industry source to Di.

4. Private investors are dumping Ericsson stock

Many private investors are dumping the Ericsson stock; down more than two percent today.

Ericsson investors are nervous about potential new rights issues; fears that are amplified by memories of 2002, when the company’s stock crashed 24 percent following a sizeable rights issue.

Ericsson, however, has said it is not considering such move at the moment.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Stockholm And Copenhagen Attracted The Most Investments In 2016 – But It’s Malmö That Really Shines

Via Business Insider:

Going by the number of investments during 2016, Stockholm is the most entrepreneurial region of the Nordics with 247, followed by Copenhagen at 98 investments.

But the region that really stands out in the statistics is the southern most part of Sweden, Skåne. The west coast cities of Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö together represent the smallest region by population, but it still manages to place third by number of investments, 78.

"The fact that Skåne, and Malmö in particular, has done so well over the past year is part of a wider trend that we see across Europe at the moment. VCs are becoming a lot better at looking into opportunities beyond major hubs like London and Stockholm. What's interesting with Malmö is that it's got a solid track record on deep tech startups, which is starting to properly catch VCs' eyes", says Jeanette Andersson, investment manager at the Malmö based incubator Minc.

Over the last three years the total value of the investments amount to some $300 million. While three years isn’t enough to identify a trend, it is fun to consider the trajectory.

The most active investors in the region are Swedish – including Almi Invest, Industrifonden and Hampus Jakobsson, but as many as one in five funding rounds have an international investor participating.

“We are already seeing a rise in visits from venture capital firms to Malmö this year, partially because our ecosystem had a high number of small investments last year”, says Jeremie Poirier, co-Head at Malmö Startups.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Martin McGuinness "Truly Remarkable", Sweden’s Former Prime Minister Says

Via The Swedish Wire:

Martin McGuinness, a former Irish Republican Army commander and Sinn Fein political leader, has died in Derry following a short illness. He was 66.

McGuinness helped negotiate peace in Northern Ireland after decades of sectarian violence, and became a senior official in its power-sharing government.

Sweden’s former Prime Minister Carl Bildt said in a message on Twitter that McGuinness was “truly remarkable” for turning from terror to peacemaker.

“The life of Martin McGuinness was truly remarkable. From rebellion and terror to truce and reconciliation”, Bildt said.

Sinn Fein said on its website on Tuesday that McGuinness had died during the night. He was reportedly suffering from a rare condition caused by the abnormal buildup of protein deposits in tissues and organs. He resigned from the Belfast government in January.

Sinn Fein said it is "with deep regret and sadness that we have learnt of the death of our friend and comrade Martin McGuinness who passed away in Derry during the night. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him", the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said: “Throughout his life Martin showed great determination, dignity and humility and it was no different during his short illness.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Turns Out Bluetooth Is Named After An Old Scandinavian King Who Died Over 1.000 Years Ago

Via Business Insider:

Bluetooth.

It's been around for 20 years. We see the name and iconic logo on virtually every device we own — Bluetooth headphones, Bluetooth speakers, even Bluetooth-enabled toothbrushes.

As is the case with most product names we encounter every day, we often take for granted that they are just called what they are called. A frappuccino is a frappuccino because it sounds tasty, right? Actually, it's a frozen cappuccino. WiFi may just seem like a funky word for the life-sustaining force that makes internet browsing possible, but it's actually short for "Wireless Fidelity".

What about Bluetooth? What is the so-obvious-it's-funny explanation for the technology that made you think strangers on the bus were talking to you when in reality they were just on the phone?

As it turns out, Bluetooth is named after a 10th-century Scandinavian king.

Harald "Blåtand" Gormsson was a viking king who ruled Denmark and Norway from the year 958 until 985. There are many accomplishments credited to him, but greatest of all is that he united Denmark and Norway under his rule.

Gormsson was also known for his dead tooth, which had a very dark blue/grey shade. It was so prominent that his nickname was Blåtand, which literally translates from Danish to "Bluetooth".

But what could this possibly have to do a wireless technology that lets you use a hands-free headset while you drive?

Fast-forward a little over 1.000 years to 1996, and short-range radio technology was in its very early stages — Intel had a program called Biz-RF, the Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson had MC-Link, and Nokia had Low Power RF. The three powerhouses quickly recognized that the best way to drive the technology forward within the industry and avoid fragmentation would be to create a single wireless standard.

In December of that year, representatives from each group met at the Ericsson plant in Lund, Sweden to plan their industry-standard technology. Before they could get started, however, they decided that they needed a codename for the project while it was in development.

Intel representative Jim Kardash suggested that the temporary name be "Bluetooth", and his reasoning was simple.

"King Harald Bluetooth ... was famous for uniting Scandinavia just as we intended to unite the PC and cellular industries with a short-range wireless link", he wrote in a blog post.

Later on, when the technology was nearly finalized and it was time to choose a permanent name, Kardash explained that Bluetooth wasn't even in the running.

Somehow, the Bluetooth origin story doesn't end there. Once the technology had an official name, it also needed a logo.

"But isn't the Bluetooth logo just a 'B' written in a tacky '90s font?" I imagine you're asking right now.

No, it's not.

That "B" logo is actually ol' King Blåtand's initials written in ancient Danish runes. So, there you have it. Bluetooth is called Bluetooth because its developers were big history nerds and they couldn't come up with a better idea. Who knew?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Jackass Who Risked Lives Flying A Balloon Chair Fined $26k

Via Gizmodo:

Daniel Boria was not the first person to see Up and think it would be a great idea to fly around in his own balloon chair. But he’ll stand as an eternal example of how thoughtless this kind of stunt can be.

A judge in the Canadian city of Calgary did not find Boria’s actions to be a laughing matter when he handed down his sentence on Friday. “There was nothing fantastic, fun or exhilarating about it”, Judge Bruce Frasier said. “There is no precedent for so foolish an escapade”. Reading the full riot act, Frasier also called the stunt “unconscionably stupid”.

If Boria had only put his own life in danger, that would certainly be acceptable. It is admirable that he pulled it off without killing himself. But he floated into an area where commercial airlines fly, not to mention the danger of a fully grown man falling onto the city from thousands of feet in the air.

Police immediately got involved and Borgia bragged to local news, last year, about seeing a flight go right below him at one point during his journey.

Now, he’ll have to pay $26.500 in fines. That’s in addition to what he says was about $20.000 that he shelled out to produce the publicity stunt. All in the name of promoting his company. Local police suggested he get a billboard next time.

It would appear that Borgia is unapologetic and doesn’t see why the stunt was so misguided. In fact, he’s just doubling down on delusions of grandeur. “[They] didn’t charge the Wright brothers”, he said. That’s true, at the time the Wright brothers were inventing human flight there were no commercial flights to endanger and they performed their tests in rural areas.

On the steps of the courthouse, he put on a Boston accent and recited a variation of JFK’s “We choose to go to the moon”-speech. My man, you are not inspiring anyone to the peak levels of human ingenuity. You’re a bro shilling a business by putting others in harm’s way.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sweden Is The Best Country In The World For Women — Here's Why

Via Business Insider:

Sweden is no stranger to topping global rankings, whether it's for excellence in raising kids, environmental friendliness, or doing good for others.

The latest: Sweden was recently named the best country in the world for women by BAV Consulting and UPenn's Wharton School of Business.

If you ask Asa Regner, Sweden's minister for gender equality, she'll say the country didn't achieve such a feat by accident. It took decades of advocating on behalf of women's rights and putting systems in place in the federal government to support women in the workplace and in life.

Regner, the minister since 2014, says a few big factors have contributed to the ongoing success.

Individual taxation

If there's a hallmark of the Nordic model of governance, it's income tax. The rates are very high. But Regner says Sweden's success with empowering women may come largely down to how people are taxed.

"A very dry and technical thing is the individual-based taxation", she tells Business Insider. Married couples in Sweden don't file joint tax returns; since 1971, they've filed separately. Regardless of whether you're single or married, individual people receive social security benefits based on their needs, she says, not their family's collective needs.

"We target individuals regardless of gender to take up paid work", Regner says. "And I think that that kind of thinking, and that we did all of that in the seventies and are still very conscious of that, creates a positive cycle that gets politicians to do things".

Parental leave

Sweden has the most generous parental leave policy in the world. Parents get 480 days to share - paid out at 80% of their salaries - which they can use until the child turns 8. In addition, fathers get 90 of those days reserved just for them.

The policy has enabled Swedes to cultivate a work-life balance like few other countries can. Families can divide their time between the office and their home with ease, and new mothers in particular enjoy having ample time with their newborns.

A great deal of research says this kind of setup is ideal for bringing women into the workforce.

Often, moms pay a penalty for working. They're either hired less because employers think they'll leave to have kids, or they have trouble keeping their old wages once they come back from maternity leave.

Sweden eliminates those pressures - for both parents, Regner says. Lately, one of her biggest missions has been to increase how much paternity leave dads take. In 2014, they took just 25% of the 480 days, while moms took 75%.

Regner's goal is to get the ratio closer to 50-50.

Company audits

Regner's ongoing quest is to ensure companies stick to Swedish law that mandates equal pay for equal work.

In 2008, the country signed the Swedish Discrimination Act, which requires companies of 25 or more employees to issues surveys every year analyzing pay differences between men and women. Companies with big differences between genders who don't take steps to close the gap risk paying fines.

This has helped to a large extent, Regner says. What's trickier is changing how work often performed by women - nursing, elderly care - is valued in society. That's the big attitudinal difference she'd like to resolve.

So far, it's involved funneling government funds to those industries where women's work is undervalued relative to men. Over time, she'd like vital areas of work to get more recognition from business leaders who pay people's salaries.

Regner also says immigration has become a new challenge. In 2015, an influx of Syrian and Afghani migrants entered the country, many of whom grew up learning different values about gender roles. Education - about women's rights, violence prevention, and the country's expectations of its citizens - all have helped so far, Regner says. But there is still a ways to go.

But while Regner and her peers debate how to level the playing field even further, many other countries are still struggling to offer basic services, such as mandatory parental leave and equal pay.

Even Sweden's problems are the best in the world.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Spotify Is Reportedly Going To Block Free Users From Listening To Its Hottest New Music

Via Business Insider:

People who use Spotify without paying may be blocked from listening to some of the hottest new music on the platform, according to a new report from The Financial Times.

The music streaming service is reportedly nearing a new deal with the major music labels. And one part of that deal would - on a temporary basis - make some of the top releases on the platform available only to users who have paid for subscriptions.

So the next Frank Ocean album, say, might become available on Spotify - but unless you've paid for a subscription, you'll have to wait a while before you can actually listen to it.

These negotiations with labels are essential to Spotify's future plans. The Swedish company plans to go public, but first it needs certainty about the terms on which it uses the major labels' music on its platform.

Spotify has been long resistant to the idea of restricting some of its music to just its paid subscribers. But according to the FT, it has received a concession in return - it will pay less to the labels in royalty fees on each song.

Taylor Swift refused to put her new album on the platform in 2015 because the company would not restrict it to premium-only users, an incident that sparked heated debate over how music should be valued and whether ad-supported music streaming services pay artists properly.

Competitors, like Apple Music, do not offer a free tier at all - though it does provide temporary free trials to potential subscribers.

The negotiations, with Universal, Sony, and Warner, could reportedly be completed within weeks.

Spotify currently has more than 50 million paid subscribers, according to its site, and over 100 million overall. There are more than 30 million songs on the platform.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Swedish Crowdfunding Hit Uniti Is Becoming Reality – 50.000 Vehicles Coming Up

Via Business Insider:

Uniti is an electric urban vehicle for the future, initially developed at Lund University and since 2016 a freestanding project. Its futuristic concept car became one Sweden's most talked about crowdfunding hits last year.

What makes Uniti unique is that they have chosen to completely remake the electric car concept, instead of just modifying and adjusting the concept of conventional cars.

Uniti posits that conventional vehicles are uneccessarily powerful and big, and wants to provide a scaled-down and more sustainable alternative. Its futuristic car concept brings substantial efficiency and environmental gains, and a high user experience, enabled by smartphone technology amongst other things.

Uniti has now announced that they will establish a fully automated factory to build the car.

The first vehicles will be built in a factory in the south Swedish county of Skåne, in collaboration with Siemens. First deliveries are scheduled for 2019, and the factory should have a capacity to produce 50 000 units already during its first active year, says Di Digital.

Unitis’ electric vehicle will be able to cover between 150 to 300 kilometers, weigh 400 kilograms, and come with an estimated price tag of SEK 200 000 ($24.500).

When the company's crowdfunding-campaign was launched on FundedByME last year, Uniti asked for SEK 5 million to build a production-ready prototype. Two days later that goal was already surpassed. The final pledged investments amounted to just over SEK 12 million ($1.35M).

Uniti's ambitions are high - new financing on the way.

Already, Uniti is believed to prepare for a big financing round, to the tune of more than half a billion krona ($63M), and has the long-term goal of an IPO, according to Di Digital.

But before all that can happen, many EV enthusiasts surely want to test drive the futuristic vehicle.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sweden’s Biggest Bank Just Threatened To Leave The Country If The Government's "Shocking" Fee Goes Through

Via Business Insider:

The current Swedish government is not making many friends in the private sector right now, having recently had companies like Norwegian and Spotifty threaten to move their operations from Sweden due to regulation or the lack thereof.

The Swedish financial sector is now locking horns with the government as well.

Earlier this year, the Swedish government put forward a controversial tax proposal, that would levy an additional 15 per cent tax on the salary costs of companies that provide financial services. The government eventually backed out, but proposed instead raised banking fees that would go into the Resolution reserve - a pool of buffer money reserved for banking crises.

The banking sector is not happy about the proposal; in particular Nordea, Sweden’s largest bank, which is now saying it’s considering to move its headquarters away from the country.

If the Swedish government's proposal were to become reality, the probability of a move is “highly, highly likely” says Nordea's CEO Casper von Koskull to Dagens Industri.

von Koskull describes the fee proposal as “shocking”, because of the amount of fees that would be incurred on Nordea, the largest financial group in Scandinavia.

According to Nordea, its payable fees would skyrocket tenfold, from today's 0.5 billion krona per year, to 5.5-6 billon ($620-670m) in 2019. Moreover, Nordea was already looking at raised fees before the current proposal.

“The resolution fee alone causes Sweden to have different rules than the rest of Europe. This naturally means that we need to consider and investigate other alternatives”, von Koskull told Di.

The Nordea CEO didn’t disclose where those alternatives for new headquarters might be.

The government’s proposal is seen by many financial sector professionals as cutting against its commitment in 2015, to make Stockholm one of the five biggest financial centres in Europe by 2020.

And if Nordea actually were to leave and remove hundreds of jobs from Sweden, the question the government surely needs to ask itself, is it all worth it?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sweden Has World’s Most Powerful Passport

Via The Swedish Wire:

Sweden has the world’s most powerful passport, according to a new report by consulting company Nomad Capitalist.

Out of 199 countries, the Scandinavian country came out on top, followed by Belgium, Italy, and Spain. The UK was ranked 16th and the US didn’t even make it into the top 30.

However, the success comes with a flipped. Swedish passports are changing hands for as much as 80.000 kronor ($12.200) on the black market and being routinely used for human trafficking, prompting the government to launch an investigation into passport abuse according to other reports.

The Nomad Passport Index found that Swedes can visit 176 countries without a visa, and have the ability to work abroad without having to pay tax at home. The Nordic nation also received top marks in terms of personal freedoms, with citizens enjoying free speech, a free press, and some of the lowest incarceration rates in the world.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Send A Manned Mission To Zeta Reticuli 2

What we know so far is that there is probable extraterrestrial life at the fourth planet orbiting Zeta Reticuli 2, a star 37 light years away. It seems possible to travel 20 times as fast as light and thus a roundtrip from Earth to Zeta Reticuli 2 and back would take approximately 4 years. We must try to build a star ship with material harder than diamond. Our planet Earth is our cradle but not our final destination. Venus and Mars are not the best places for the exodus of humanity when our sun gets into trouble... I say we should send people to Zeta Reticuli 2. We can do it. We even need to do it to have a door open for future migration and for the future security of us earthlings.

Sweden Has World's 3rd Fastest Broadband Internet; South Korea Leads With 26.1 Mbps

Via The Swedish Wire:

Sweden has the world’s third fasted broadband internet speed, while South Korea still leads the race with an average connection speed at 26.1 Mbps, a new study by Akamai Technologies shows. Norway was ranked second.

“Internet connection speeds continued to show positive long-term trends around the world, with particularly strong year-over-year increases across all broadband adoption metrics”, said David Belson, editor of the State of the Internet Report.

“When Akamai first published the report in 2008, we defined ‘high broadband’ as 5 Mbps and above, which nine years ago had an adoption rate of 16% globally. We’re now seeing a 15 Mbps adoption rate of 25% worldwide.

Norway held on to the top spot for 15 Mbps broadband adoption among surveyed European countries in the fourth quarter, tying second-place Switzerland with an adoption rate of 54%.

Seven other countries – Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Romania, Latvia and Belgium – had 40% or more of unique IPv4 addresses connecting to Akamai at average speeds above 15 Mbps, the report said.

Sweden will be a completely online country in 2025, according to the government's new three-part broadband strategy. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has also promised that over half a million more Swedes will gain access to fast broadband Internet over the next four years.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Tesla Vets To Open $4b Battery Factory In Sweden

Via The Swedish Wire:

Two veterans of Tesla, the electric car pioneer owned by Elon Musk, has announced that they plan to build a $4 billion factory to manufacture the batteries, most likely in Sweden.

Peter Carlsson and Paolo Cerruti, both ex-executives for Tesla, said a massive new factory could be producing lithium-ion batteries, the energy source for electric cars, in Europe by 2020, if plans for a Nordic “gigafactory” come to fruition.

“The problem today is that batteries are very expensive. By scaling up the battery production and taking control of the entire [value] chain, from raw material extraction to the finished product, we think we achieve a competitive business model”, said Paolo Cerruti, COO at Northvolt, formerly Carlsson’s colleague at Tesla, to Swedish business daily Dagens Industri.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Here’s Volvo’s New SUV, The Car That "Will Decide The Company’s Fate"

Via Business Insider:

Today Volvo Cars unveiled its new SUV, the XC60, in Geneva Motor Show.

The new beast will be replacing a previous bestseller the same name, and according to expert Håkan Matson at Di, it needs to become at least as big a success as its predecessor, adding that the new model is ”completely decisive for the company's future”.

”It's the perfect car for an active lifestyle, and it makes up the next step in our transition plan", adds the comany's executive chairnman Håkan Samuelsson in a press release.

”The XC60 is characterized by a genuinely Scandinavian experience", adds Volvo's Chief Designer Thomas Ingenlath.

Volvo Cars's new safety goal is that nobody should be killed in a Volvo in 2020. Hence the XC60's safety features are a major USP; the City Safety-system has been developed, and the car also features the Oncoming Lane Mitigation-function, which will reduce damage in full frontal impact.

Production is expected to begin in mid-April, and the XC60 will be available both as a plug-in-hybrid, diesel- and petrol car – the price tag, however, is not yet official.

Monday, March 06, 2017

SAS Could Move All Intercontinental Flights From Stockholm To Copenhagen

Via Business Insider:

Should Sweden impose an airplane tax, as its government has been considering since late last year, the Scandinavian airline SAS has threatened to move all intercontinental flights from Stockholm to Copenhagen and Helsinki.

In a hearing answer, SAS informed the Swedish government that its prospective tax would lead to a 35 million kroner extra tax bill for the airline on its intercontinental flights annually.

“The traffic will move from Stockholm to Copenhagen and Helsinki”, SAS warned the Swedish government.

“Firstly the move will involve intercontinental traffic – an area for which the proposed Swedish taxation will be very high”.

Local impact

On November 30 last year, the Swedish government announced it was considering an airplane tax from 1 January 2018. The tax will aim to reduce the impact of air traffic on the climate and could net the Swedish state about 1.75 billion Swedish kroner annually (1.36 billion Danish kroner).

More specifically, every flight to a European destination would be taxed 80 Swedish kroner, while flights outside Europe would be taxed 280 kroner. Longer intercontinental flights would be taxed a full 430 kroner.

SAS said that aside from moving long-haul flights to Copenhagen, the tax could also force the airline to shut down local flights within Sweden.

Moreover, the airline complained that larger state-owned Middle Eastern airlines, which have considerably deeper pockets and would therefore be able to absorb the tax more easily, would increase their domination in the Scandinavian market.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Jewish Cemetery In Rochester, NY Vandalized

Via Arutz Sheva:

Headstones found toppled in Jewish cemetery in US for third time in less than two weeks.

A Jewish cemetery in Rochester, New York, was vandalized, the third such incident in the United States in less than two weeks.

Five headstones were found toppled Thursday morning at the Waad Hakolel Cemetery, also known as the Stone Road Cemetery, in the city in western New York, according to News 10 NBC WHEC.

The president of the nonprofit managing the cemetery said he did not want to call the incident a hate crime or anti-Semitism.

“I don’t want to label it a hate crime. I don’t think there’s any proof of that. I don’t want to label it anti-Semitism. I don’t think there’s any proof of that,” said Michael Phillips, president of the Britton Road Association, according to The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Police were awaiting notice from the cemetery before commencing an investigation, News 10 NBC WHEC reported.

The last two weeks saw vandalism at Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia and St. Louis, as well as two more waves of bomb threats called into Jewish community centers, schools and institutions across the country, representing the fourth and fifth waves of such harassment this year.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Sweden's Economy Continues Fast Pace Of Growth

Via The Swedish Wire:

Sweden's economy continued its fast pace of growth in Q4, expanding by 1.0% quarter-on-quarter, HSBC said in a new report.

This was slightly above consensus and the Riksbank's expectations, but meant that the annual pace of growth slowed to 2.3%.

The slowdown in the annual growth rate was mainly base-effects, owing to the very strong growth rate in Q4 2015. The pace of growth was held back by changes in inventories (taking 0.3ppts from the qoq growth rate), but otherwise strong exports, consumption and investment all fuelled growth, suggesting that Sweden's strong growth picture continued at the end of 2016.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Chicago "Much Worse" Than Malmö: American Journalist

Via The Local:

American journalist Tim Pool has spent two days seeing 'dangerous' Malmö with his own eyes.

But the city did not live up to the bleak picture he had been told to expect.

"If this is the worst Malmö has to offer, then don't ever come to Chicago", Pool told news agency TT after visiting Rosengård, a neighborhood with a high immigrant population.

Pool met municipal council member Nils Karlsson, who gave the journalist a guided tour of Malmö neighborhoods Lindängen and Rosengård.

"I want to show the true picture of Malmö - without denying that there there are problems, poverty, and challenges. But also to show that 330.000 people live in this city and most do not engage in crime or violence or kill each other", Karlsson told TT.

Pool's journalistic visit came about after Paul Joseph Watson, editor of right wing website Infowars, promised to pay for a trip to Malmö for any journalist that claimed Malmö was safe. This challenge came in the wake of President Donald Trump's false claims last week that a terror attack had taken place in Sweden.

The 18.800 SEK (USD 2.000) donation covers about 20 per cent of the costs of Pool's trip to Sweden and Europe.

"I do not work for anyone. Nobody is paying me and I am not getting anything in exchange for this. I just want to find out the truth", said Pool.

Pool told TT that he describes himself as a conflict and crisis journalist who posts his material on YouTube and Twitter.

The journalist says he is not surprised by Trump's use of Sweden as a device in his rhetoric.

"Many would say that Sweden's liberal policies are evidence that they work and would be of great benefit to the USA. Now Trump is using the issue of immigration to condemn that argument. The connection of crime in Sweden to immigration and refugees is an idea that has existed in the US for several years, even before Trump", said Pool.

While respect the concern regarding increases in violence in Malmö, Pool said that he considered warnings that he would be robbed or attacked in Rosengård as "ridiculous".

"Someone shouted at us and pointed a finger. A takeaway pizza restaurant owner did not want to let in 'some fucking journalists'. But if people are really afraid to come here, then I would recommend that you never come to Chicago. Chicago has about 750 murders each year", he said.

But Pool added that he had so far received conflicting information from residents about violence in the city, and that interview subjects have often canceled or preferred to remain anonymous.

Following Saturday's tour of Malmö with local Karlsson, Pool and his photographer colleague Emily Molli are scheduled to remain in the city for several days to carry out research.

The pair will also visit Stockholm and Gothenburg, as well as other European cities affected by terror and highlighted as problematic by Donald Trump, such as Brussels, Paris, and Nice.

Pool aims to use the material gathered during his trip to make a documentary film.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gött! - Gothenburg Is The World’s Most Sociable And Party-Loving City According To Study

Via Business Insider:

It may come as a surprise to some, that three Nordic cities top the world's most sociable cities ranking.

Gothenburg claimed the top spot ahead of its big brother Stockholm. The city on the Swedish west coast owes its win to sociable, open and party-prone inhabitants, says Hostelworld, which conducted the study.

North American cities also stand out with their sociability. The rest of the top five went to US cities Chicago, New York and Boston; followed by Copenhagen on sixth place.

The study asked more than 12,000 in 39 countries questions around their social life, ranging from the frequency with which people socialize and openness to the "propensity to party".

The ‘Sociable Cities’ study is the first comparative analysis of the social life of world cities and the local residents’ views on global travel and tourists.

Here are the world's 10 most pleasant cities, according to Hostelworld:

1. Gothenburg

2. Stockholm

3. Chicago

4. Boston

5. New York

6. Copenhagen

7. Madrid

8. Rome

9. Hamburg

10. Dublin

Gothenburg's win confirms a Swedish cliché about its residents being particularly sociable and cheerful. Perhaps many Swedes think that the more uptight capital would deserve a lower ranking...

And the definition of Gött?

The word has its roots in the Gothenburg area and is used when something is good, nice or awesome. It is a dialect version of 'gott'.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

UFO Recorded By 3 Different Cameras In Chile

Via Unknown Country:

This object was recorded during an airshow by three different witnesses, all from different angles. One video would mean that the object could have been a bird flying at close range to the camera, but not three.

In the third video especially, the object's motion suggests that it is not a bird or close-flying insect.

The object is not the plane creating the contrail. It is the small bright object that races past in all three videos, showing no contrail.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Poached In –16C: Why One Of The Loudest Voices In Nordic Tech Is Leaving Her Dream Job

Via Business Insider:

When you've finally managed to turn your passion into a full-time paid position, what could possibly make you want to quit it less than a year later?

Social media addict and digital marketeer Maral Kalajian has some unique answers to this question.

The wide-smiled, curly-haired Stockholmer is currently among the most instantly-recognisable faces in the Swedish capital's tech scene. But in January she announced she is stepping down from her job as Digital, Marketing and Community Manager for STING, the Nordic accelerator behind startups including smart guitar developer Mind Music Labs, children’s gaming company Peppy Pals and wearable tech firm Light Flex.

It's a role Kalajian was headhunted for last February after three years of obsessively posting about Stockholm's startup boom. She spent the following year repeatedly gushing about how she'd tweeted herself into a "dream job", even describing it as her "STINGerella" story.

"It was a hobby for me to be active in the tech scene and then it was something that I managed to get paid for", beams the 36-year-old.

Originally from Lebanon, she moved to Sweden as a student ten years ago and was looking for her way out of a role in corporate communications for Philips when she accepted the job at STING.

"They asked if I could just keep doing what I was doing — tweeting and going to lots of networking events every week. It was an easy decision".

But she faced a much harder choice at the end of 2016 when — days after being listed as among the 100 most influential names in the Scandinavian startup scene by tech site The Nordic Web — she was approached by the CEO of one of the companies STING had supported, and asked if she would consider jumping ship.

"It came from nowhere. I was absolutely not looking for a new job", she insists.

However by mid-January she'd sealed the deal during a bizarre business meeting — a snowy evening walk through central Stockholm park Humlegården, in teeth-chattering -16C temperatures.

"You know when you don't feel your hands, you don't feel your nose! But then when this founder came and we started talking, everything else just disappeared. He is someone really special," explains Kalajian, adding that the unusual location for their meeting came down to “time pressures” and a shared passion for nature.

The name of this snow-loving CEO has been a mystery since Kalajian announced her resignation last month. But she has exclusively told Business Insider that her new boss is Hjalmar Nilssone, the founder of Swedish energy Artificial Intelligence startup Watty, where she'll take on the role of Marketing and Communications Manager later this month.

The 22-employee company, which last year raised 3 million euros in funding, has designed smart AI technology to help customers cut costs and limit emissions by measuring their consumption.

With intense speculation on social media previously suggesting that Kalajian had been poached by a global venture capitalist firm, a big-name brand in London or was set to become the next CEO of Stockholm startup hub SUP46, she accepts that her "horizontal career move" may come as a surprise to her almost 11.000 Twitter followers.

"I want to do something good for the planet. I know it's not a sexy topic, but that's part of the challenge. It's a world-changing startup and I believe in what they do", she explains.

But most importantly, she argues that her experience is a lesson in "people politics", admitting that at least 50 percent of her decision to accept the job came down to her near-idolization of Nilssone.

"This guy, he might look like a young, blue-eyed, high school person — like Harry Potter — but when he opens his mouth, he really is different. He is very charming", she argues.

"He is the only founder who has actually made me feel like I'm not just 'Maral from Twitter' but that I am ‘Maral the human being'. He said to me 'a freak like you one meets once in a lifetime'!"

Despite being one of the most vocal champions of Stockholm’s startup scene in recent years, Kalajian is refreshingly honest about how its evolution has also shaped her decision to try out a different kind of role.

“The Stockholm tech scene is growing beautifully and I want it to beat every startup city in the world. But it has become a bubble, with a lot of the same types of people. I wanted to somehow scale from it and Watty is already a global platform”.

So how guilty does she feel about turning her back on STING, the accelerator which plucked her out of the corporate world and hand-crafted her previous fairytale job?

“Ten months is a long time in startup-land -- startups can cease to exist in just three months. These days it’s not about how long you’re in a company but what you have achieved, and I have achieved a lot”, she argues.

“In my new role I’m giving myself six months to see if I am able to deliver or not, because there is always a risk that I might fail. But if I fail it will be a lesson learned and if I succeed, I am going to be helping Watty into its golden era. Either way, it’s an adventure!”

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

These Nordic Brands Are Among The 500 Most Valuable In The World — Sweden Is The Star

Via Business Insider:

The Nordics have in total 11 companies among the most 500 valuable brands in the world, according to data from Brand Finance's "Global 500" list.

The Nordics' most valuable brand is Ikea, ranking on 43rd place globally. Both Ikea and H&M rank among the Retail category's Top 10 (ranked 5 and 7). Sweden also has the region's only car brand among the top 500, Volvo.

Finland's only entrant is Nokia, while Norway boasts its telco and oil giants. Denmark's most valuable brand is Lego, followed by food giant Arla and Danske Bank.

Here are the Nordics' most valuable brands according to Brand Finance (company - value/$ - ranking).

Sweden

IKEA - 24,1 bn - 43

H&M - 19,2 bn - 63

Nordea - n/a - 286

Ericsson - n/a - 331

Telia - n/a - 365

Volvo - n/a - 491

Denmark

Lego - 7,6 bn- 196

Arla - n/a - 462

Danske Bank - n/a - 488

Norway

Statoil - 7,6 bn - 195

Telenor - n/a - 209

Finland

Nokia - 4,6 bn - 341

The Visual Capitalist's infographic shows how the Nordics' most valuable brands compare to those of other countries (yes, Austria's Red Bull is worth more than Nokia).

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Startling UFO In Normandy...If It Is Normandy

Via Unknown Country:

It is claimed that this object was taped in Normandy in western France, if so, then it is a form that appears from time to time and is a genuine unknown. However, it could also be fire on a mountainside and taped elsewhere. There are no mountains in Normandy high enough for this to be a fire on a mountainside in this geographical location.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Since 2012 Sonetel Has Gathered 650.000 Clients In 239 countries - Now It's To Be Listed On Nasdaq First North

Via Business Insider:

Sonetel, founded 2012, has grown more than 2.000% over the last four years, and is thereby Sweden’s eigth fastest growing tech company, according to Deloitte Sweden Technology Fast 50.

During February, the company is issuing a public offering to raise EUR 2,5 million, and will be listed on Nasdaq First North as of March. The subscription period will end February 22, and the price is set to SEK 26,9 per share. Sonetel has already secured subscription commitments and underwriting to cover the whole offering.

Sonetel’s growth has been explosive – but it’s not profitable yet.

In its short existence the company has already built a customer base of around 650.000 clients in more than 239 countries. 90,000 of these are paying customers. The service is predominantly free, but allows clients to pay for additional premium functions.

The annual revenue has reached SEK 25 billion, but despite its explosive growth Sonetel has not reported profits for any year so far.

In conjunction with the rights issue Sonetel writes that profitibility is expected to be reached soon, but that the capital injection is needed to get there. Amongst other things, the capital is to be invested in improving implimentation of AI tech.

Sonetel provides a cheap service that everyone needs.

Sonetel’s typical clients are small businesses with international orientations, operating mostly within e-commerce, IT services and marketing.

Sonetel provides a business communication service which makes it possible for businesses to have a local phone number anywhere. In other words, Sonetel’s small business clients can display a phone number which is from the same country as their customers, anywhere in the world. For Sonetel’s clients this boosts sales by increasing their customers’ confidence. Calls to the local number are forwarded globally but only accrue the cost of a local call. Sonetel’s service also supports free conference and business calls across the world.

”Half of the world’s working population work in small businesses. A large share of these already have access to cellular phones and the internet. Most of them lack money, time and technical skills – but almost all of them want to increase their sales”, Sonetel CEO and founder Henrik Thomé says.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Provocative Video Of UFO Shadowing Jet

Via Unknown Country:

This video from MUFON shows a white object shadowing a jet. The person who made the video says that other jets and helicopters followed soon after. There is nothing to suggest that this object is a drone, a balloon, a bird or any natural object. It is also pacing the jet, so it's not a celestial object. The only possibility other than a UFO is that it is a smaller plane at a lower altitude and so not emitting a contrail. But it is moving very quickly.

Your Out There editor concludes that this has a better than average chance of being a genuine unknown.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Swedish Nuclear Physicist Just Got The World’s First Approved Birth Control App - As Effective As The Pill But Using Only Mathematics

Via Business Insider:

For over a year Elina Berglund nuclear physicist has been fighting authorities and malicious headlines. Now her app will be the first in the world to be approved as a contraceptive.

“It feels incredibly exciting that there is now an approved alternative to conventional pregnancy prevention methods, and that it’s possible to replace medication with technology”, says a more than satisfied Elina Berglund, who founded Natural Cycles together with her husband Raoul Scherwizl.

The approval comes from the German inspection and certification organization Tüv Süd, which has classified the app in the medicinal category of IIb. That means Natural Cycles officially offers a new, clinically tested alternative to birth control methods such as contraceptive pills, contraceptive implants and condoms.

2015 was a turbulent year for the founding couple. The difficulties peaked November 25 when the ruling of the Swedish Medicinal Products Agency reached their inbox. It demanded that all talk of contraceptive should be done away with in ten days, while the agency continued to investigate the matter. The app’s users were informed two days before Christmas.

“At that point it felt tough. Really tough. After all, the app had been developed for birth control”, Elina Berglund told Veckans Affärer in an interview during the summer of 2016.

On top of that, the information that the Medicinal Products Agency was investigating Natural Cycles leaked, and from the peak revenue of $280.000 in October 2015 they experienced a dramatic decline.

”By December our revenues were $120.000”.

The storm continued: Frightening headlines about Natural Cycles attempting to trick young women who lack the discipline to protect themselves, along with strict monitoring from the Medicinal Products Agency.

Now, more than a year later, Elina Berglund and her husband finally get their long-awaited vindication. The previous prognosis of doubled revenues for 2016 was lost in the time pending approval, but now it’s time to strive onward again.

“We barely grew at all last year, so now we’ll have to double up this year instead and go from revenues of about SEK 18 million to SEK 36 million”.

The plans of a big scale launch in the US will have to wait pending approval from the American regulatory agency, FDA. Instead, Natural Cycles will go ’all in’ into the UK, which is already one of the biggest markets for the company.

Natural Cycles calculates daily fertility with an algorithm.

To use the app, women measure the temperature underneath their tongues every morning and enter the measurement into the app. An algorithm developed uniquely for the app then determines whether you’re fertile or not that day, so that you know if you risk pregnancy by having unprotected sex.

Natural Cycles has over 150.000 users in 161 countries and a clinical study has proved that using the app is as effective as a method of birth control as being on the pill.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Malmö Just Got Its First Game Incubator – And Is Set To Produce Even More Of The World’s Bestsellers

Via Business Insider:

Malmö has an incredible track record when it comes to game successes – and it’s set to become an even more important hub for the industry. Minc, the startup house in Malmö, already hosts an incubator, an accelerator, a startup lab and a coworking space. Lauching this spring it will also have an incubator dedicated to game companies, called Minc Game.

“When you think of the game scene in Sweden you’ll probably think of King or Mojang, but that’s only part of the story. We have game companies in Malmö consisting of only one or two people that deliver exceptionally high quality games”, says Mårten Öbrink, CEO of Minc.

The incubator will host 5-8 early stage game companies over a period of 12 months (and has already opened for applications), allowing the companies to access Minc’s business advisors, coaches and matchmakers in areas of investments, marketing and team building. It will be run by Peter Lübeck, formerly COO at Tarsier Studios, the Malmö-based game studio behind the successes LittleBigPlanet, PS Vita and Little Nightmares.

“Malmö has been doing exceptionally well on the international game scene, and the studios here range from one-man shows to much bigger studios like Massive, There still hasn’t been a go-to place for setting up your own game studio though, and it’s something game developers in the region have been looking for. That’s why we launched the programme series Game Startup Academy last year, and the success of that inspired us to set up Minc Game”, Peter Lübeck, Project Manager at Minc Game, explains.

It’s certainly true to say Malmö is ‘doing well on the international game scene’. With a population of only 320.000 Malmö is home to some 40 game companies – 4.8 times more per capita compared to, for example, London. Ubisoft and King are two big names in Malmö, and Massive just bought an entire block in the city to expand their team from 400 to 600.

The bulk of the game companies consists of smaller studios , but being small doesn’t prevent them from consistently delivering best-sellers. With support from the new incubator there’s bound to be even more coming up.

Malmö’s startup environment isn’t only unique for the game development scene. Outside of the Nordic capital cities, Malmö received more venture capital 2016 year than any other Nordic city, The Nordic Web wrote. One reason Malmö is attractive for entrepreneurs is that it's relatively cheap compared to the Nordic capitals, but at the same time it's closely connected to the vital startup ecosystem and metropolitan area of Copenhagen.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Once-Promising Finnish Mobile Upstart Jolla Is Having Some Hard Times

Via Business Insider:

Jolla is on the ropes. The Finnish company, founded by former Nokia staff of the Meego project back in 2011, launched a smartphone featuring Sailfish OS in 2013 to positive reviews, but has had problems finding steady ground ever since.

The company led a successful crowdfunding campaign, raising $2.5 million from 21.633 backers, for the development of Jolla Tablet in December 2014. However, very few devices ended up being built and shipped to end users.

After multiple issues with production, the company stated in late 2015 that due to lack of necessary components that are no longer available the Jolla Tablet was being discontinued with remaining backers getting a full refund.

In July 2015, Jolla announced it was spinning off the device business in order to focus on development and licensing of Sailfish OS. Additionally, some unexpected delays with a financing round temporarily put the entire company in jeopardy, forcing it to furlough roughly half of staff towards the end of the year.

A last hurrah?

Jolla was buoyed though 2016 by a collaboration with Intex Technologies, India's second largest phone maker. The collaboration resulted in the release of the Intex Aqua Fish smartphone. According to a report in Kauppalehti, however, it appears the contract has run out and the companies are no longer working together.

Having failed as a mass market hardware vendor, all hope for Jolla now rests on its software division and Sailfish OS. Jolla successfully raised $12 million in capital as recently as May 2016, so it may have enough capital to sustain operations for quite some time, but finding a new partner remains vital for long term viability.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Sweden Among World’s Most Innovative Countries

Via The Swedish Wire:

Sweden climbed to second place in the 2017 Bloomberg Innovation Index, which scores economies using factors including research and development spending and the concentration of high-tech public companies.

Silver medal winner Sweden owes most of its rise to improvement in the manufacturing value-added metric, the news bureau said.

Fresh ideas tend to pay off big in Sweden, even as the current government is less business-friendly and has imposed labor taxes that could crimp business investment, said Magnus Henrekson, director of the Research Institute of Industrial Economics, a private foundation in Stockholm. The Swedes themselves promote an atmosphere of great personal ambition — unlike some European neighbors that emphasize the collective — and that’s a boon to innovation, he said.

“In the culture, people are super individualistic — this means that people have ideas and are very interested in pursuing them in this way in order to become wealthy,” said Henrekson. “The incentives are there and the tax system favors them”.

Overall the Nordic nations dominate the top 15, while South Korea remained the big winner, topping the international charts in R&D intensity, value-added manufacturing and patent activity and with top-five rankings in high-tech density, higher education and researcher concentration.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Ryanair Returns To Malmö - Launching A New Route Immediately

Via Business Insider:

After three years of absence, Ryanair will start flying from Malmö Airport again. Having previously re-focused its regional efforts to Kastrup airport in Copenhagen, Europe's largest airline has now decided to return to the other side of the Öresund sound. This according to Dagens Industri.

The announcement coincides with the launch of a new route, from Malmö to Kraków in Poland:

”Ryanair has the pleasure to announce its return to Malmö Airport and launch two new Swedish winter flights for 2017 from Malmö and Gothenburg. Both of these routes will have departures to Kraków three times a week, starting from the beginning of September. Sales will start in a few weeks" said Nikolaj K. Thomsen from Ryanair.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Swedish 19-Year-Old With Only 160 Facebook Followers Just Topped Spotify’s US Viral Top 50 With His First Single Release

Via Business Insider:

’Paris’ is the first song to be released by a Malmö-based musician called Le Sinner.

Yesterday the song soared up to Spotify’s Viral Top 50 in the US, which means that it was the most shared track.

“While I was in the studio yesterday it seems Paris became the most viral song in the US. This is completely unreal, I can’t find words. Thank you!” Le Sinner wrote on his Facebook page.

Considering his Facebook page only has 160 followers, having the most viral song – if only for a little while – is quite a feat.

The record company behind Le Sinner, Today is Vintage, will not even reveal his real name. They leave it at presenting him as a 19-year-old Swedish-Iranian living in Malmö, writes Veckans Affärer.

“Our current priority is to push ‘Paris’ both at home and internationally. We will of course follow up with more music when at the appropriate time”, Francis Cartier at Today is Vintage told Dygnet Runt.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Finnish Automaker And Chinese Battery Giant Just Teamed Up To Take On The European EV Market

Via Business Insider:

A 22% share in the Finnish car manufacturer Valmet Automotive has been acquired by the Chinese battery giant CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited), Reuters reports.

In conjunction with the investment, CATL announced that it would be collaborating with Valmet Automotive in tackling the European electric car market, particularly in supplying batteries and drivetrain solutions, Reuters writes and quotes CATL's COO, Jia Zhou, in the press announcement:

"Our shared aim is to develop a strong position in the European electrical vehicles market".

That means yet another player on the European lithium ion battery market. Previously there were five competing bids for the market: A German battery factory is to be opened by BMC, LG Chem is planning a battery factory in Poland, Samsung wants to build one in Hungary, Tesla has its own plans for a European ‘gigafactory’, and finally the former CPO of Tesla is mounting a plan for a huge battery factory in Sweden.

A report made by the company behind the Swedish project, SGF Energy, estimated the European demand for lithium ion batteries by 2025 to be 110 gigawatt hours for the auto industry and 600 gigawatt hours in total. If such projections are in the vicinity of the turnout the market certainly has room for more than one actor.

CATL, on a global scale, has set an ambitious goal to produce 50 gigawatt hours a year by 2020, and tripled its production during the last year, according to Reuters. Other battery factories in the pipeline are estimated to have roughly the same or lower production capacities.

For Valmet Automotive the collaboration will likely mean a further boost in its current upswing in business. Over the last five years, the subcontractor car-manufacturer that’s been around since 1968 has seen its workforce grow from 700 to some 2.000 – with a further 1.000 expected to be hired by the third quarter. The expansion has been driven mostly by deals for producing two Mercedez models, but Valmet Automotive is also producing electric vehicles for Fisker.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

When Don’t F*** With People’s Cars Became Don’t F*** With People’s Phones

Via TechCrunch:

There’s an adage in politics that’s been around for years: don’t f*** with people’s cars. While the right to drive where you want, when you want is not formally enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, for decades upon end, it might as well have been.

Messing with people’s cars was one of the third rails of politics — raise tolls, the gas tax or anything else that touches people’s vehicles at your own peril. That’s why gas taxes across the U.S. are exponentially lower than they are in Europe. Politicians concocted Tollway Authorities to create an independent, unelected bad guy to take the blame when tolls had to be raised. It’s why the movement to privatize toll roads never really took off.

But in the last five years, that has all started to change. Cars – and the right to drive them – are not quite as cherished as they used to be.

Fewer sixteen-year-olds than ever are getting their drivers licenses – it’s easier and cheaper to just take an Uber or a Lyft.

Increasingly people keep moving into cities, making cars less necessary. And as autonomous vehicles take hold, riding in a car will become no different than taking any other form of public transportation. But as the politics of not messing with people’s cars wanes, a new refrain has taken root — don’t f*** with people’s phones.

Phones are more than a utility and they’re more than ubiquitous. They’re our lifeblood to society – to our work, our family, our friends, our interests.

The digital world has become the physical world. And if people were passionate about their right to drive, they’re even more steadfast in their right to use their phones as they please, when they please, how they please. And that will bring about major changes in society.

For example:

Phones provide regulatory protection that allow startups to compete: One reason entrenched interests keep losing regulatory battles to startups is because the product or service being sold by the startup is almost always available on someone’s phone. And because of that, people tend to view the app in question as an extension of the phone itself. Regulators and legislators don’t like being constantly criticized by their constituents over email and twitter for trying to impose new regulations on startups, so they’re learning to say no to their donors and friends who want startups quashed. That will help change the regulatory landscape for entire industries – health care, energy, education, transportation, insurance – in the next few years.

Phones will hasten the legalization of controversial products: More and more controversial products and services will become legal and available because they can be accessed via someone’s phone. While the Trump presidency will put a short-term crimp in cannabis legalization, marijuana is now a product you can order from your phone (at least through Eaze in California). Consumers expect to be able to use their phone to buy what they want, when they want, and that basic expectation will hasten cannabis legalization across the country.

The same is true for gaming. It’s one thing for a state government to slowly dole out casino licenses. But telling people they can’t play poker or video games for money on their phones comes with a much higher political cost (it means saying no to everyone) – and that’s why legalization of virtually all forms of gaming will happen a lot sooner than people realize.

Phones will save democracy: When it comes to the act most fundamental to maintaining our democracy, we currently toss aside the object we rely upon most and revert instead to an outdated approach that is difficult from start to finish –identifying your polling place, finding time to go there, waiting in line, dealing with confused/hostile people working at the polling place, finally voting and then driving or walking back to wherever you started. Not surprisingly, few people bother to consistently vote.

Politicians tailor their views, votes, policies and actions to cater to the people who can elect or un-elect them. And given that those who actually do vote (especially in primaries) tend to be highly partisan and highly ideological, the people they elect then religiously represent their views, which means constant polarization and dysfunction. But the easier it is to vote, the more people will vote. The more people vote, the more mainstream our politicians become because they have to start representing the views of more and more people. And when politicians are acting within the mainstream, that allows them to – finally – work together and get things done.

Politicians learned to behave with extreme caution on anything related to cars. If they don’t learn to exercise the same restraint on anything connected to people’s phones, they’ll pay a steep price. So as a new President takes office, a new Congress settles in, and new Governors and state legislatures begin their sessions, here’s a new political adage to commit to memory: don’t f*** with people’s phones.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Norwegians Are Still Fighting To Give Finland A Mountain For Its Centennial - Now With A Movie

Via Business Insider:

This December will mark the centennial of Finnish independence as the country broke free from Russia on December 6, 1917.

To commemorate Finland's 100th birthday the retired Norwegian geophysicist Bjørn Geirr Harsson proposed to move the border between Finland and Norway that passes over mount Halti 40 meters so that the peak would officially be on the Finnish side.

That would make it the highest peak in Finland, though it should be noted that the highest point in Finland is already on mount Halti - at the current border. Still, the symbolical gesture has gathered a lot of support, and, for Norway, the act would not even mean losing one of its 200 highest peaks, according to the New York Times.

The Facebook page 'Halti som jubileumsgave' (Eng. Halti as an anniversary present) has gathered some 17.000 likes. An official proposal was even submitted to the Norwegian government.

Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg considered the gesture undoable, however, because the Norwegian constitution states that the country is indivisible, the New York Times writes.

Despite the rejection of the proposition, Norwegians have not given up.

It's not over until it's over.