New Swedish VC Firm Targets Mobile E-Commerce

With mobile phones becoming more popular than PCs, a number of Swedish technology executives have formed a venture capital firm, Startupfactory, to fund and shape promising mobile e-commerce enterprises.

Startupfactory, which launched in August 1999, will fund 10 international mobile Internet companies each year, focusing on ventures that deliver e-commerce in a wireless environment.

Startupfactory, which says it is “promoting the ‘Swedenization’ of Silicon Valley,” will focus on Sweden, Finland, Japan and the U.S. as key mobile e-commerce markets.

Headed by Mobile Industry Heavyweights

Startupfactory was launched by Sven-Christer Nilsson, the former chief executive of Ericsson, Rolf Skoglund, a former Microsoft executive, and Hjalmar Winbladh, head of Microsoft’s Mobile Web business unit. Because of their operational experience in mobile communications, these executives say they will be more active in the development of its companies than most other venture capitalists.

The executives say they will target firms involved in wireless applications and direct e-commerce rather than those who develop hardware.

Fund Already Supports Three Companies

Startupfactory has already funded three Swedish companies, including mobile software firm Newline Information. Also on board are e-commerce firms — an online ticket agent — and, a mobile Web shopping and lifestyle service for women.

Wireless Internet Industry Set to Explode

Action is beginning to heat up in the wireless Internet arena. Earlier this month, Ericsson and Microsoft announced an agreement to develop mobile Internet platforms and devices.

This week, Intel announced the launch of a wireless division, and Microsoft has been investing in companies that are actively developing wireless and voice-activation applications.

While mobile e-commerce generated an estimated $300 million (US$) in online sales in 1998, that number is projected by some bullish analysts to skyrocket to the range of $23 billion by 2003.

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