All of Italy’s million euro exits from 2012 to the present

They may be one-way, but they are still exits. Of the 12 top exits by Italian startups in recent years, 11 were acquired by foreign companies, or by IPO (initial public offering) on foreign stock markets. Only one has remained in Italy, the Milanese startup Triboo, quoted on Milan’s stock market in 2014. The total… Read more »

finance-cece-exit-600X400They may be one-way, but they are still exits. Of the 12 top exits by Italian startups in recent years, 11 were acquired by foreign companies, or by IPO (initial public offering) on foreign stock markets. Only one has remained in Italy, the Milanese startup Triboo, quoted on Milan’s stock market in 2014. The total value of the acquisitions is almost 2.5 billion euros. The majority of this capital comes from the United States and the United Kingdom (with Ireland and Russia following).

For the other six in the same period (among which cui Gopago bought by Amazon) no economic values were ever revealed, but 5 of them did go abroad. Taking a step further back, in 2012, there were the acquisitions of Glancee by Facebook, and Redmatica, now Apple’s. Same story, different times, same dynamics. They are repeated along with the analyses of a phenomenon that imputes, over and over, the scarce capacity of Italian companies in understanding the value of innovative startups; or the education of Italian managers who are myopic when it comes to creating growth by acquiring other companies on the internal market; or even the nature itself of innovative startups, with internationality in their DNA that invalidates the concept itself of national acquisitions rather than by foreign companies. Or as Ermanno Cecestated in a post on StartupItalia! one year ago, “make the hare run and then catch it”. 24 months later the hare is still running but the chase has yet to begin.


1. Bravofly Rumbo Group

Created in 2004 by Fabio Cannavale and Marco Corradino, with headquarters in Chiasso, Switzerland. Present in 35 countries, it includes among its brands Volaregratis, Rumbo, Jetcoast, and Bravofly. It compares and chooses different travel options that are available on a single website: from flights to hotels, car rentals, and cruises. All in a single package. In June 2014 it became quoted on the market, collecting 579,000 euros.

2. Ethical Oncology Science 

Created in 2006 in Milan by Ennio Cavalletti, Gabriella Camboni, Silvano Spinelli (who CheFuturo! put on the top 100 Italian innovators list for 2013) and Jacques Theurillat, who identified a cure for cancer in their laboratories thanks to the molecule, Lucitanib (which should arrive on markets in 2018). EOS was supported by a network of venture capitalists among which Principia by Pierluigi Paracchi, the French fund Sofinnova (main investor), and the Dutch venture Aescap.

Then it was acquired by Clovis Oncology (2013), and quoted on NASDAQ for over 420 million euros (310 of which went to Sofinnova).


Created in 2010 in Milan by Mauro Giacobbe and Angelica Pellizzari, it is one of the most important portals in Italy for comparing insurance policies, bank fees, phone rates, electricity and gas fees. In 2011, it grew after an investment by the Italian holding company Quattordicesima, owned by the Berlusconi family. In September 2014, 75% of the company was bought by investment company Oakley Capital, and quoted in London for 100 million euros.

4. Gentium

Another biopharmaceutical startup searching for cures and treatment of tumors, Gentium was founded in Como in 2001 by Iris Ferro and Khalid Islam. It develops products to alleviate the treatment of anti-cancer therapies. Created out of a spinoff from the Italian company Crinos (which then passed under the control of German company Stada), in 2013 it was acquired by Irish companyJazz Pharmaceuticals for one billion dollars.

5. Intercept Pharmaceutical

Created with the discovery by Perugia University professor Roberto Pellicciari, Intercept works on a therapy for curing the liver. But it is of American origin, founded by Mark Prunanski and with headquarters in New York. Genextra, an Italian investment company, bought 31.5% of shares in 2006, investing 33 million. The following year it debuted on the New York NASDAQ, where Intercept sold 5 million shares at 15 dollars each, collecting 230 million dollars. Today it is worth 3.7 billion.

6. Jobrapido

Created in 2006 in Milan from an idea by Vito Lomele, it collects job offers from around the world that are organized for users who register on the platform. All of the job offers that are available worldwide relating to one’s personal profile can be viewed with a single click. Just six months after starting, his startup was already earning thanks to ads on the website. In 2012, the group behind the Daily Mail in the UK, bought 49% of it for about 30 million euros. And at the end of 2013 it became entirely English. Unconfirmed sources claim the acquisition was made for a total of 70 million euros.

7. Octo Telematics

Rome, 2002. It was created from an idea by Fabio Sbianchi and grew by aiming at telematics solutions for car insurance. In time, the services increased and now range from management of reports and graphic interfaces for consulting data to antifraud services for transportation. In February 2014, Russian holding company Renova Group bought it for 555 million.

8. Okairos

Created in 2009 from a research spinoff, it is specialized in researching vaccines for rare diseases. Founded by Riccardo Cortese, Alfredo Nicosia, and Stefano Colloca, it has recently been claimed that Okairos is the Italian startup that is defeating Ebola.  It received 20 million euros in financing from venture capitalists in order to begin research, and then, two years later (May 2013), British pharmaceutical multinational Glaxo came along and bought it for 260 million.

9. Simple Agency

Created in 2008 in Milan by Marco Caradonna, Sandro Moretti, and Umberto Bottesini. It offers a simplified approach to advertising in an interactive mode with a business model that joins marketing, media, creativity, and technology. Hence, cross media marketing that unites social, video, mobile, and big data. The London company Aegis Media bought it in June 2013 for 20 million euros.

10. Triboo Media 

Created in 2005 in Milan by Alberto Zilli and Giulio Corn, it is a company specialized in planning strategies for online advertising. It moves in three directions: editorial activities, online advertising, and product offers with earnings in the form of CPM (cost per mille) and CPC (cost per click). Quoted at the Alternative investment market of Milano in March 2014 (stock exchange area dedicated to small and medium businesses with high growth potential), it collected 64 million euros with its shares.

11. Livio

Founded in 2008 in Detroit by Italian engineer Massimo Baldini and his partner Jake Sigal, it designs and creates software that integrates autos with smartphones and tablets. Ford took the company for 10 million dollars in September 2013. The two engineers, after selling their startup to Ford, created a new startup, Tome, in May 2014, which develops products in the area of Internet of Things. In June, they closed a first round with 220,000 euros.

12. Northwall Innovation

Created in Langhirano, Parma in 2010, it produces aeronautical helmets with new technologies. In March 2013, they sold one of their patents to Safecomm, American company from Buffalo, with a cross stock participation for both of the companies. Total value: 1.5 billion euros. The agreement includes two consulting contracts and the distribution of helmets for helicopter pilots and a cross stock participation. Northwall Innovation was founded by two mountaineers from the Modenese Apennines, Nicola Campani and Gianluca Martini.

The exits in 2013/14 whose values were never revealed

13. GoPago

Founded in the US by two Italians, Vincenzo di Nicola and Leo Rocco, it was acquired by Amazon in December 2013. The 19th richest man on the planet, Jeff Bezos, wanted their technology for a sum that has never been revealed. It is a cloud-based payment system that allows one to order and pay for merchandise before reaching a shop. And it will be integrated into Amazon’s projects for offline sales.

14. Silicon Biosystem

Bolognese startup founded by Giuseppe Georgini, acquired by the multinational pharmaceutical company Menarini in 2013. It creates products to isolate rare cancer cells. The acquisition took place a year after having closed the first investment round for 3.2 million euros.

15. Alkemy

Torinese startup that was bought by Seolab in July 2013, which took 65% ofD-Pixel by Gianluca Dettori. Run by Riccardo Lorenzini and Duccio Vitali, it helps companies in digitizing business strategies with solutions for ecommerce, social media, and mobile. Currently it has 70 employees and earnings of over 3 million euros.

16. Kapipal

Crowdfunding platform bought in July 2013 by American Grow Vc Group. Founded by Alberto Falossi in 2009, it offers solutions for donations and crowdfunding for various types of projects (birthdays, hobbies, medical bills, school costs). Used in 7 countries, it counts over 50,000 unique users per month.

17. Koinup

The startup from Brescia is a video hosting site that was bought by London company ExitReality at the beginning of 2013 (a company that offers 3D graphic solutions). It was founded in 2006 by Pierluigi Casolari and Edoardo Turelli.

18. Monoidics

Created in London but founded by two Italians, Dino Distefano and Cristiano Calcagno, it was acquired by Facebook in July 2013.


A graphic interface service for games by Massimo Andreasi Bassi, Luca Martinetti, and Francesco Simoneschi that was bought by California companyPlayHavem in June 2013.


Main exits for 2012

20. Glancee

Just about everything has been said about Andrea Vaccari and his Glancee. Except for the value of his exit, the first big one that an Italian took home. And with the added value that it was Mark Zuckerberg himself who bought it in May 2012.

21. Redmatica

Founded in Correggio in 2004 by Andrea Gozzi, it was bought in June 2012 by Apple. It develops software for the registration and duplication of digital audio. The value of the acquisition was never declared, but it is known that the startup from Emilia earned about 100,000 euros in 2012, with a profit of about 25,000.

(Sources: Finsmes / The Italian Startup Ecosystem “Who is Who” 2014)