This month, we celebrate the success of a small Dutch start-up named Atomblock that has recently evolved and become a division of a much larger European company named ALSO. Atomblock is now called ALSO Digital. It is a cloud-based infrastructure company that helps game publishers, software publishers and retailers to sell their products on a global scale – in other words, providing a cloud service that enables small European game and software companies reach more markets more quickly and efficiently.
For many successful start-up companies, the path to growth involves merger with or acquisition by a larger company, and this is a case that could please Vice President Nellie Kroes, who is passionate about creating an environment in which web entrepreneurs not only “start in Europe” but also “stay in Europe.” Atomblock was founded in 2009 in the Netherlands, grew consistently despite strained economic times, and attracted the attention of ALSO, a German-Swiss company that is Europe’s third largest ICT distribution company with net sales of over 6.3 billion EUR a year and over 2900 employees.
This partnership has proven to be mutually beneficial: Atomblock, as ALSO Digital, has greater opportunity to expand its business across Europe, while ALSO enters the world of digital software distribution through a well-established and successful platform. When they came together, the two companies already had a strong common ground, which made them speak “the same language”, as Hendrik Van Iterson (CTO ALSO Digital) told us. Both companies were also Microsoft partners.
ALSO Digital’s solution enables any company to become an e-retailer in less than a week, without having to worry about building their own solutions to sell via the web. By combining electronic software distribution (ESD) and point of sale activation services (POSA), retailers can offer their products in stores without having to tie up capital in the sales process or worry about inventory (the products are offered in packages without physical content, accompanied by product keys). Atomblock launched this service in the Belux area, but now, after being acquired as ALSO Digital, it can expand and deploy this service throughout Europe easily.
The company chose to continue using the Windows Azure cloud platform for its new solution. Azure was the best fit for ALSO Digital because it provides the company with the scalability, stability and reliability that it needs, especially following the expansion of the business as a result of the merger. Hendrik confessed that ALSO Digital is truly unique and its success is due to the fact that it is the only company with a true scalable cloud-based infrastructure that offers both gaming and software catalogues.
By being part of the Microsoft BizSpark program, the company also benefits from cost-effective access to Windows Azure, so it can re-direct its budget in other relevant areas of their business. Currently, ALSO Digital is offering its solution in 12 European countries and plans to expand its services to retailers in North America.
Atomblock is no stranger to our website! We had the pleasure of talking with Hendrik about the company and its services in the interview here. Hendrik also joined us to demo his service at the launch of the Microsoft Cloud & Interoperability Center in Brussels in March 2011.