As some of you know one of my most recent investments is Zonga, the leading streaming music service in Romania a spin off company of Trilulilu.

Zonga launched in October of last year and in less than one year it has already become the streaming music service for Vodafone Romania and received an investment from the same company. It also won several awards and as you can see from this info-graphic it is gaining some nice traction.

Zonga also recently launched a much-improved Android version (the previous version was its weakest point) a few weeks ago that I really invite you to try if you have an Android device. Being an avid user of both Spotify and Zonga, I was impressed to see that the Zonga Android version actually feels much better than that of Spotify. But then again Zonga also had a browser version well before Spotify.

Now that Sergiu Biris and his team have gotten the Zonga overall experience to the quality level that they wanted, its time to expand. The quality of the Zonga platform and its full service for the lowest cost approach has generated lots of interest not only in Romania but also abroad.

This is why we are looking for a chief commercial officer to join the Zonga team and fully run the commercial side of the business so that Zonga can capitalize on these opportunities.

So if you are a senior results oriented commercial person with experience in doing large business development deals at the highest levels with multinationals as well as capable of working with the operational teams of these same companies and account manage these relationships for maximum results, please get in touch.

We can build a very good package including stock options for the right candidate.

You are results oriented, entrepreneurial, pro-active, and super driven, a “closer” with great account management skills and understand the opportunities as well as risks of working in a start up (this is a hands on role and fast results are expected), get in touch, this is an incredible opportunity for the right candidate.

The job will be based in Bucharest with frequent travel to Cluj (where the product team is based) and abroad for business development.

Tks,

Alexis

To apply, please send your CV and a short motivation letter of why you would be perfect for the role via email to: jobs@zonga.ro

eRepublik recently celebrated its 5 year anniversary in style with a players summit that gathered 350 players from around the world in Bucharest. The summit was also followed by over 14.000 players via a live streaming supplied by one of the players! You can see more details about the summit in one of the info-graphics below.

sumit infographic

And finally to celebrate our 5 years, the team came up with this other cool info-graphic comparing the new world of eRepublik with the real world. Personally what is most impressive for me is the fact that the eRepublik.com community wrote in 5 years over 1,1 million articles. That is equivalent to 10% of the complete New York Times articles archive. The New York Times is 161 years old.

erepublik 5 year anniversary

If interested you can also see my video address to the summit attendees below. The production values have nothing to envy the famous kixeye recruitment video, we even managed to get 2 helicopters vs their 1 helicopter.

I was pretty excited a few weeks ago when Trilulilu, the company where I am chairman and one of my largest angel investments, soft launched its streaming music service Zonga.ro with Vodafone! We also announced that Vodafone had taken a 15% stake in Trilulilu´s music subsidiary Trilulilu music. This is a huge vote of confidence that a company such as Vodafone would make such a move and select a Romanian company to offer a music streaming service to its customers for the first time worldwide. This is great for Vodafone who gets a great service for its customers and also lots of goodwill by showing that it has the vision to find great teams and start ups no matter where they are located in the world and as a result in this specific case, support the Romanian start up ecosystem. It is also great for Trilulilu and Zonga of course who gain a very important strategic partner that will significantly boost its growth potential. Finally it is also very good for the local start up ecosystem that in my opinion needs to gain credibility and traction, not just with more funding deal announcements or exits (still very rare) but also by having start ups that like Trilulilu evolve to the next stage and become credible enough so that they can partner and do truly strategic deals with the truly big boys. Good stuff and congrats to Sergiu and his team.

If you are in Romania, you can register to the free version of Zonga and access to largest catalogue of legal music in the country in any of their stores in Romania or online here

If you are a Vodafone customer, you can subscribe to the premium mobile version of Zonga here

Enjoy!

Ps: Below I have added a quick intro video to the Zonga service and what it does.

Zonga – Muzică nelimitată. Mereu cu tine

Vezi mai multe video din reclame

eRepublik Turkey Infographic

elabslogoThe creator of the hit game world eRepublik.com pushes for continuous expansion with new products on the horizon for 2013.

Madrid, September 13th,  2012 – eRepublik Labs is pleased to anounce the acquisition of the Alien Flow team, a proven team of mobile gaming developers based in Spain. The move is in line with eRepublik Labs’ effort to further boost its advance in the online strategy games market for and expand its focus on core gamers to mobile platforms.

Alexis Bonte, CEO and co-founder of eRepublik Labs, said: “We see mobile games gaining in depth and complexity and we see ourselves as extremely well positioned to take advantage of our European and growing global leadership in browser based multiplayer immersive gaming worlds for true strategy gamers and mix it with Alien Flow’s team strength in mobile platforms. We foresee our company to be among the first in Europe to capitalize on the current trend of core gamers moving towards mobile platforms.”

The Alien Flow team has in-depth experience in developing mobile games and applications, focusing on creating addictive and complex content for iOS and Android devices.

Chris Head, CEO of Alien Flow said: “We are delighted to join a company that consistently showed solid growth and creativity. We are looking forward to boost eRepublik Labs’ efforts to add new strategy games to their portfolio, in the wake of their success on browser platforms with their eRepublik.com strategy game world”

eRepublik Labs was founded in 2007. The company is one of the top 25 European start ups according to TechCrunch. eRepublik Labs is inventing game worlds, that leverage the power of communities and the Web.

erepublik.com_

eRepublik.com, its first massive online social strategy game, is set in a mirror version of the real world and launched in November 2007. eRepublik.com was a prize winner in the LeWeb3 start-up competition in 2007 as well as the TechCrunch FOWA competition in 2008 and was recognized by AlwayOn has one of the top 100 Private companies in the world in 2009. eRepublik was also a Webby Awards nominee in 2009 and 2010. Since its launch, over 3,5 million people have created an eRepublik citizen and the game world now has an active community of over 230.000 citizens, of which a high proportion play daily.

Chris Head has over 15 years of experience within the telecommunications and games industries. He starts today as eRepublik Labs new COO, where his extensive experience with large game studios will be key to help the 50 person strong company grow into the leading European provider for the growing tribe of core gamers that are looking for an accessible, deep and meaningful strategy gaming experience online and on mobile .

For any further details, please contact anca@echipapr.com or pr@erepublik.com

Spain win Euro2012

I’m tired of hearing people say that you can’t build a world-class start up from Spain. You can’t open a paper nowadays without more news about how Spain is collapsing; this is creating a wrong perception of the country.

It is the Real estate and banking sectors that are completely screwed up in Spain. That and like most other European countries living above one’s means for decades.

But amid the 25% unemployment and banks with 19 Billion € holes, something is happening and its not in football.

One of the best companies in the world is Spanish: Zara, its publicity shy founder: Armancio Ortega is now the wealthiest man in Europe.

Yes world-class companies can be created in Spain and attract world-class teams.

Since I have moved to Spain (my wife is Spanish), I’ve heard every single cliché you can imagine about why it’s the wrong place to be based. From the eco-system is not developed enough to it’s too sunny so people don’t work that hard (although there may be a point there if you look at what economies are doing best in Europe right now, there seems to be nothing South of Denmark other than Germany!)

But seriously, the Spanish are notorious for being the people in Europe that sleep the least and that is not just because they know how to Party.

I’m used to having to fight clichés, I had to do the same for Romania (our main games studio is in Romania, we are developing the one in Spain), one of the countries with the best dev talent in the world.

Ok, there are downsides to being in Spain, yes the start up eco-system is less developed than in London or (over-hyped?) Berlin and, it is divided between Madrid and Barcelona.

But it is better than most would think. Entrepreneurs meet regularly in initiatives such as Chamberi Valley, acquisitions are being made locally (Telefonica buying Tuenti,) and funding is available for early stage (Wayra, Cabiedes and Partners) or even later stage (Nauta Capital or Bonzai). Plus you have real local success stories such as eDreams, Idealista, Privalia, Social Point or Fon. They may not be world-class companies yet, but some do have a shot at achieving that.

Another key thing is talent, if you believe that the future of consumer tech is in great design rather than simply the best technology. Then designers & artists who are almost impossible to find in other European countries are actually quite easy to find in Spain. Also, great weather, good food plus falling cost of living do have the extra benefit of making it easier to attract foreign talent and to retain it.

Most importantly, Spain and the young Spaniards have no choice. With 50% youth unemployment, you are not going to beat the crisis if the society doesn’t become entrepreneurial and embraces start-ups.  The first signs of this are starting to emerge with the multiplication of events and conferences as well as growing government interest and the first (albeit slow) application of entrepreneur friendly laws such as a more flexible labor market. But the Spanish government could yet surprise us, this is after all a country that did a law (now cancelled) designed to attract the best football talent to the Spanish League and clubs: the Beckam law that halved income taxes to 24% for 6 years for international football players. Imagine if they placed the same energy and imagination in getting the best international entrepreneurial talent!

Spain did hit a brick wall but fortunately, entrepreneurs know that every brick wall has a brick door.

Yes Spain is one of the places where in football and in business if you can dream it, you can do it.

Screen-Shot-2012-03-05-at-5.28.07-PM

A few days ago, I learned via email that the World Economic Forum (WEF) had selected me to be part of the YGL (Young Global Leaders) class of 2012, this information is being made public today. The World Economic Forum among many other things organizes every year an annual meeting in Davos, without a doubt the most important economical summit in the world.

Every year a WEF committee selects 100 to 200 individuals of under 40 years to join the YGL community of 650 active members in the world (some very cool people in there). You can find the full list of the class of 2012 here: http://www.weforum.org/community/forum-young-global-leaders

I am honored and thankful to the World Economic Forum for nominating me to the Young Global Leader class of 2012.  This is especially rewarding for me as I will actually be joining my wife, Jimena who was selected as a YGL in 2010 for a completely different field: Art & Education and I therefor know just how incredibly interesting it is to be part of the YGL community.

I have been working, creating or investing in Internet start-ups since I’m 21, sometimes failing and fortunately a little more often succeeding in some not so obvious places (for internet start ups) such as Portugal, Argentina, Romania and Spain. And wherever I have been active with my own start ups I have tried to help the local ecosystem and local entrepreneurs.

I am currently the co-founder and CEO of eRepublik Labs, a start up of 50 people based in Dublin, Madrid and Bucharest that invents game worlds such as www.erepublik.com . I am also the non-executive chairman of Trilulilu.ro Romania’s largest entertainment website and an angel investor in half a dozen more start-ups.

It is in part thanks to all the people I have met, worked with (good and bad) and always learned from that I now have this new range of opportunities that being a YGL gives you, so thank you.  The rest is all my family and my wife’s making (and that of the person who submitted my profile to the selection committee).

I was asked by the WEF to answer a few questions that you can find below:

What are the characteristics of the next generation of leaders?

I believe that the characteristics of the next generation of leaders will be that:

–       They are truly citizens of the world, people who have been exposed to and understand other cultures.  Be it via travel, education or simply by being connected.

–       They are capable of leveraging the power of a connected world not only for business objectives but also for social objectives

–       They are less inclined to accept being limited by national borders or local rules something that has its advantages but also its risks

–       They are more socially conscious and true embracers of transparency and social mobility, what counts is not where you come from but what you are doing and what you are capable of achieving.

What according to you are the challenges and opportunities of the next generation of leaders?

The opportunities in terms of education, access to information and connections that the Internet offers, mean that the next generation of leaders can come from anywhere on the globe and work and develop anywhere. There is much more geographical mobility than before.

This is a great opportunity, in particular leaders that come from developing and emerging countries.  But it also creates the challenge both for future leaders and for countries on how to retain talent.

The playing field is not level and the challenge for the next generation of leaders will be to apply their skills for long term benefits in the countries or regions that they care about rather than just where the best and easiest opportunities are in the short term.

There are times where you have to leave to blossom as a leader but there are other times in particular times of crisis where staying is a necessity both for yourself and for your country. Dealing with this will I believe be a real challenge for the next generation of leaders.

What do you want to give and get form the YGL community?

To the YGL community, I want to give some of my time to be an engine that helps change how entrepreneurs are perceived in the old economies of Europe and drive not only a policy change but also a real attitude change towards entrepreneurs in these countries. Embracing entrepreneurialism is a force for social good and change.

I also hope it will be a great platform to meet new people I can share with and learn from.

I would also like to congratulate Martha Lane Fox (UK digital Champion appointed by the UK government who was the co-founder of lastminute.com and my boss when I started my career there) and is also in this YGL class of 2012. Martha and Brent gave me my first chance at lastminute.com and Brent (also a YGL but from a previous year) also helped me start eRepublik Labs.

Today I just read what I think is the best definition of what a CEO’s job is and should be. It’s taken from a blog post by Walt Mossberg of AllThingsD about Steve Jobs. Regardless of wetter its an accurate definition of what Steve Jobs did, it really resonates with me as being exactly what a great CEO should be about.

Here is the quote:
“He did what a CEO should: Hired and inspired great people; managed for the long term, not the quarter or the short-term stock price; made big bets and took big risks. He insisted on the highest product quality and on building things to delight and empower actual users, not intermediaries like corporate IT directors or wireless carriers. And he could sell. Man, he could sell.”

You don’t need a manual on how to be a good CEO, focus on the above and you are off to a pretty good start. Add to this “never never never give up” and you have a pretty good entrepreneur.

You can find the full post on “the Steve jobs I knew” here on the AllThingsD WSJ blog.

Acens.tv just uploaded an interview that is a few weeks old, where I talk about eRepublik, social games, angry birds, having a company in Ireland and Apple.

Main points are:
– eRepublik going well, social games: 60% of social games players are women (not the case for eRepublik).
– Social games and Facebook: If you do social games make sure you are on Facebook but be careful not to have your business depend to much on one company.
– Angry birds, 45k to MVP, 75 million $ annual turnover (rumored), not bad. Practice does make perfect (Rovio developed tens of games before this one)
– Who would have said 10 or even 5 years ago that Apple would lead the way in mobile gaming!

I would just like to give special thanks to our Friends at Apple for letting eRepublik be among the first companies in the world to get iDesks. Since the roll out this morning, productivity has gone up by 20% and we have been able to always get 3 star ratings on all of the Angry Birds levels.

iDesk