HitFox Group, the Berlin-headquartered “startup factory,” seems to be on a roll right now. Last week it announced a €15 million profit for the year 2013 (yes, profit!) and today it’s pulling back the curtain on two new portfolio companies.
The incubator has acquired neighbouring Datamonk, a mobile targeting and analytics platform, for what I understand to be on the lower end of a “seven-figure” amount, and founded and invested €1 million in apploop, a platform to help mobile apps find new and profitable users. The latter is similar to existing portfolio company AppLift, but targeting non-gaming verticals and, together with Datamonk, tallies with the way HitFox is broadening its focus from an original remit of games distribution and then games advertising to data-driven advertising and big data more generally.
In fact, in a call earlier this week, HitFox CEO and co-founder Jan Beckers likened the current climate surrounding data to the early web in the late 90s. “There are so many opportunities,” he said, “data will change all industries again, as the Internet did in the last 20 years.”
It is this “big data” opportunity that also appears to have been the impetus for HitFox to buy-out many of its early shareholders last year, resulting in the company being nearly 90 percent owned by its founders — who along with Beckers, are Dr. Hanno Fichtner and Tim Koschella — and the startup’s employees. Included in the investors who disposed of their shares as part of the buy-back is incubator Team Europe, whom Beckers used to work for and, in part, took his inspiration.
The rejigging of HitFox’s cap table suited all parties, he said, with early shareholders making “a lot of money” and HitFox now able to move more nimbly, including through acquisition and by placing bets on newly hatched startups without having to consult a plethora of outside decision-makers. In addition, he said the founders now have a greater incentive to be in it for the long term.
Beckers was also keen to stress that he remains close friends with Team Europe’s founders and other early HitFox investors. “In six weeks from now I will have a holiday together with the sellers to celebrate,” he said, prompting me to joke that based on his Facebook feed the 31-year-old whose first entrepreneurial endeavour was organising parties when he was a student, does a lot of celebrating.
“When I’m busy in my office working there is no Facebook!” replied Beckers laughing. And it’s true. You don’t get to €15 million in profit, growing a company to more than 200 employees, without working hard even if you play hard, too.