Norway has a secret startup that’s quietly snapping up deals with the likes of Apple, Microsoft and Coca-Cola.
Meltwater, founded in Oslo in 2001 with just $15,000 (£10,000), is a platform that provides companies with media coverage insights. The cloud-based software can tell businesses which journalists are writing about them and for which publication. But perhaps more importantly given today’s social media-driven world, it can also show them where they’re being mentioned on Facebook and Twitter and by who.
What’s more, companies can use the platform to stalk their own clients by setting up searches in the same way they would for themselves.
Think of it as a very sophisticated version of Google Alerts, CEO and founder Jørn Lyseggen tells me while on a visit to London (he’s now based in San Francisco along with Meltwater's headquarters).
The quietly-booming startup now has annual revenues in excess of $200 million (£134 million), 50 offices around the world and over 1,000 employees.
“If you name 100 brands, chances are at least 70 of them will be using Meltwater’s software,” said Lyseggen, adding that the vast majority of the world’s leading technology companies are now among his clients. “Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Twitter, you name it. But not Facebook, we’re yet to get Facebook,” he said with a somewhat forced smile.
Many people won't have heard of Meltwater but the company has set out on a mission to change that, recently bringing on one of the UK's largest tech PR firms Burson-Marsteller, and appointing a chief marketing officer for the first time just six months ago.
Meltwater’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed in some circles. Venture capitalists have been queuing up with vast sums of money to try and secure a chunk of the fast-growing business. “They started to notice we were doing well when we began posting job adverts all over the place,” said Lyseggen.
However, the entrepreneur said he is reluctant to sacrifice equity and take on external investment when Meltwater is generating enough money to support its own growth, adding that many venture capitalists ultimately try to dictate the direction of the company when they come on board.
Lyseggen didn’t give too much away in terms of how much he believes his company is now worth but it looks like it’s well on its way to a billion dollar valuation, which would make it one of Norway’s first tech "unicorns".
And what about an IPO? Well, Lyseggen admitted that he used to dream of IPO’ing a company when he was a child but now that’s less important to him, he claimed. “Keeping the company private gives me a lot more freedom,” he said, before going on to say it’s still always a possibility.