Happy new year!
I've always found it odd to see 'year in review' posts pop up in December before the year is actually over and done with. But now that 2014 is truly behind us, we thought it would be worthwhile to reflect on the biggest stories for the European tech industry of the past year.
It won't be a huge surprise to you that the EU tech coverage in 2014 was dominated by stories pertaining to Google and Uber's ongoing troubles in Europe, not necessarily in terms of growth but due to its run-ins with local and European governments. In addition to that, there was the increasing attention from Europe to the tax 'loopholes' used by the likes of Apple, Amazon and other tech giants.
Other oft-recurring topics were security (breaches), privacy and data protection, net neutrality and the enormous upswing in M&A transactions, particularly when it came to ISPs, telcos and media conglomerates. Also worth noting: bigger funding rounds at larger valuations for EU tech startups.
When you're done reading and sharing this article, go out and make sure that what you've got planned for 2015 makes the list in a year from now. The biggest EU tech stories of 2014, according to us:
The very first day of 2014, Skype's security was breached by the Syrian Electronic Army, around the same time Yahoo malware turned a host of European computers into bitcoin slaves. Later in January, the German Federal Office for Information Security announced that the online accounts of some 16 million Internet users had been compromised by hackers. Not a good start of the year.
And yet, the 5 biggest EU tech stories in January, in our mind, were:
- Uber cars getting attacked by angry taxi drivers in France
- France fining Google €150,000 for privacy violations, following a similar €900,000 fine in Spain
- Two major acquisitions in the UK, with Zynga buying NaturalMotion for more than $527 million in cash and stock, and Google buying DeepMind for 'more than $500 million'.
- SoundCloud raising more than $60 million in a round that valued the company at $700 million
- Netflix started gearing up for expansion in Europe (and expand it did, alright)
Bonus (tech.eu) link: Inside Zalando: A deep dive into Europe's biggest online fashion store
The 5 biggest EU tech stories in February, in our mind, were:
- Turkish lawmakers adopting ‘Orwellian’ Internet curbs (it didn't get better after that)
- Britain's surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the NSA, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of Internet users not suspected of wrongdoing
- Japanese online retailer Rakuten buying messaging startup Viber for $900 million
- Nokia launching a family of Android-based devices at the Mobile World Congress
Bonus (tech.eu) links:
The 5 biggest EU tech stories in March, in our mind, were:
- The European Parliament overwhelmingly passed a large package of laws intended to strengthen data protection across the EU
- Spotify buying The Echo Nest, the company that powers "the vast majority of Internet radio"
- Swedish payments pProvider Klarna raised €90 million and bought SOFORT in Germany
Bonus (tech.eu) link: Will Europe dare to be bullish on immigration for entrepreneurs?
The 5 biggest EU tech stories in April, in our mind, were:
- European Parliament passed a strong net neutrality law, along with major roaming reforms
- Uber started running into trouble in a few European cities (more would follow)
- Vkontakte, the 'Russian Facebook', finally parted ways with founder Pavel Durov after many months of twisting and turning over the ownership of the social network
Bonus (tech.eu) link: The 7 faces of London’s tech scene
The 5 biggest EU tech stories in May, in our mind, were:
- In May 2014, the European Court of Justice ruled against Google in a case brought by a Spanish man who requested the removal of a link to a digitised 1998 article in La Vanguardia newspaper. The ECJ ruled that search engines are responsible for the content they point to and thus, Google was required to comply with EU data privacy law - welcome, "right to be forgotten" law.
- VC investment in European fintech companies reached its highest level in more than 10 years
- Denmark-born Zendesk raised $100 million in its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange
Bonus (tech.eu) links:
The 5 biggest EU tech stories in June, in our mind, were:
- European regulators opened formal investigations into the tax practices used by Apple and others, to check whether they comply with the EU rules on state aid
- Taxi drivers across Europe staged demonstrations against Uber and others
- Zoopla, the British real estate listings website, was valued at more than $1.5 billion in its initial public offering in London
- The Netherlands-based Elasticsearch raised $70 million in Series C funding
Bonus (tech.eu) link: A look at European Bitcoin startups
The 5 biggest EU tech stories in July, in our mind, were:
- From 1 July 2014, the EU cut the price caps for data downloads by more than half, making it cheaper to use maps, check mails and social networks while travelling across Europe
- Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law requiring Internet companies to store all personal data of Russian users at data centres in Russia
- Google announced a new $100 million fund to invest in European startups
- France-based ride-sharing app maker BlaBlaCar raised $100 million
Bonus (tech.eu) link: Bitcoin and Europe: a complicated but promising relationship
The 5 biggest EU tech stories in August, in our mind, were:
- European startups raised €2.1 billion from investors in Q2 2014, the highest quarterly total since 2001
- EU regulators started preparing to unleash a formal investigation into Google's Android
- Russian President Putin expanded his regulation of media to the blogosphere, requiring those with at least 3,000 daily readers to register their real names and contact information
- Twitter expanded its advertising network in Europe with 12 countries, mainly in the CEE region
Bonus (tech.eu) links:
The 5 biggest EU tech stories in September, in our mind, were:
- Berlin-based Delivery Hero raised $350 million at a valuation of more than $1 billion
- A German court ordered Uber to suspend services across the country
Bonus (tech.eu) link: A look inside Eyeo, the company behind ad-blocking software phenomenon Adblock Plus
The 5 biggest EU tech stories in October, in our mind, were:
- EU antitrust regulators approved Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp but turned its sights on the tax arrangements enjoyed by Amazon in Luxembourg at the same time
- Google bowed to pressure, started removing news snippets from German search results
- At the end of the month, Hungary announced wildly-protested plans to introduce an 'Internet tax', as Spain approved an equally hotly-disputed 'Google tax'
Bonus (tech.eu) link: What brings Y Combinator to Europe? We caught up with partner Kirsty Nathoo to find out
The 5 biggest EU tech stories in November, in our mind, were:
- The UK’s major ISPs, including BT, Talk Talk, Virgin Media and Sky, agreed to filter out terrorist and extremist material at the government’s behest
- Deutsche Telekom launched a new €500 million fund to invest in startups and mature companies
- Hungary-born Prezi secured $57 million in new funding as it hit 50 million users and 160 million presentations created
Bonus (tech.eu) links:
The 5 biggest EU tech stories in December, in our mind, were:
- Microsoft and Yahoo started responding to European 'right to be forgotten' requests
- The European Union started backtracking from plans to allow US Internet giants to be regulated by a single data privacy watchdog in the EU
- The Netherlands-based payments startup Adyen raised $250 million in a Series B round of funding
- Adobe bought French stock photo site Fotolia for $800 million in cash
Bonus (tech.eu) link: Demystifying the top tech ecosystems in Europe in six videos
Featured image credit: Roobcio / Shutterstock