According to data from Dealroom, in 2021 and 2022, startups from Southeast Europe sealed almost 80 exit deals. Together, the total realized and unrealized amount of all reported acquisitions goes beyond €35B. Even though the disclosed amount of the realized deals amounts to €4B, or around one-eighth of the total amount, there are some notable examples of big recent exits.
Leading the charts in SEE, is the $1.3B IPO of UiPath which marked the third biggest New York software IPO in April 2021, followed by the buyout of Viva Wallet by JP Morgan Chase for an estimated amount of €700M. The third and fourth places are for the $378М acquisition of the Serbian mobile games developer Nordeus, and the $130M acquisition of the Greek network service provider Cardlink in May 2021.
With great success comes great responsibility. Do you wonder what tech founders do after exiting their company for millions of dollars? The examples of exited founders The Recursive compiled, show that they keep hustling, founding new companies, or keep scaling products and teams as part of the parent companies.
Find out who are the exited founders from Southeast Europe in 2021 and 2021, and follow up on what they are doing today.
Exited Founders: Where Are They Now?
Alex Tsilfidis and Elias Kokkinis are the co-founders of the Greek-founded audio applications development company, Accusonus. Founded in 2013, the company was one of the world’s pioneers in the development of AI in digital music production and processing. In February 2022, Accusonus was acquired by Meta in a deal of an undisclosed amount that is estimated between €70M and €100M. Now, both founders occupy the positions of Engineering Managers at Meta in Athens, Greece.
Andrei Cretu is the co-founder of 7Card, a well-being, and fitness company offering employees access to a network of sports and relaxation venues. In January 2022, after 10 years on the Romanian market, the company was acquired by global player Gympass, and joined a network of over 50K fitness partners worldwide. 7Card was founded in 2012 by Andrei Cretu, Iulian Circiumaru, and Catalin Ivascu. Previously, Andrei Cretu had experience in management and consulting. Today, the serial entrepreneur Andrei Cretu, is co-founder and active CEO of the work-from-anywhere B2B platform Pluria, serves as an advisor to Gympass, and a Partner at V7 Capital, the Romanian startup studio.
Andrei Ionut Damian is the co-founder of Lummetry.AI, a Bucharest-based AI-driven data science startup, which provides deep learning for Big Data companies. In September 2021, the startup was acquired by GTS Global Intelligence, a Romanian company that specialized in software development and technology solutions. After the acquisition, GTS Global Intelligence continued to invest in Lummetry.AI’s research and development of AI engines. Now, the startup has two Managing Partners, Damian and Cosmin Mihai Marinescu, CEO of GTS Global Intelligence. While Damian is the Chief Research Officer responsible for leading the AI team, Marinescu looks after business development.
Athanasios Panagiotopoulos is the co-founder of EveryPay, the Greek fintech startup that developed the fastest payment gateway in the country. In July 2022, the startup was acquired by Skroutz, a leading marketplace in Greece. EveryPay was founded in 2014, by Athanasios Panagiotopoulos (CEO), one of the Fortune 40 under 40 list of Greek business leaders, together with entrepreneur and academic Grigoris Siourounis (Chairman of the Board of Directors), and Minas Kitsos. Panagiotopoulos still keeps his role as the CEO of EveryPay.
Branko Miluntinović is the co-founder of the Serbian mobile games developer Nordeus that was acquired by the American video game holding company Take-Two Interactive in June 2021. The acquisition accounted for up to $378М – one of the largest deals for the Serbian gaming industry. Nordeus was founded in 2010 by Branko Milutinović, Ivan Stojisavljević, Tomislav Mihajlović, and Milan Jovović. After its acquisition, the startup launched a foundation to impact education within Serbia and continued developing soccer-related mobile titles and technology with the new company. Miluntinović is still an active CEO.
Christo Peev is the founder of the Bulgarian platform for online specialists, Motion Software, which was acquired by Exadel, a global software consultancy and engineering company in July 2022. Now, Peev continues performing his duties as the CEO of Motion Software and keeps his focus on bringing innovation through the company’s proprietary Remote Work Platform and expanding its reach around the world.
Ciprian Borodescu is the co-founder of MorphL, a startup that developed an artificial intelligence-based solution to help online stores increase sales, and optimize their product metrics. In January 2021, the startup was acquired by the French company Algolia before they even managed to raise a seed round. Ciprian now serves as the Head of the R&D center of Algolia in Bucharest.
Daniel Nay is a co-founder and ex-CEO of the Romanian mobile game studio Metagame which was acquired by the US game studio Fortis in March 2022. Today, Daniel Nay serves as a Senior Producer at Fortis, while the other two co-founders of Metagame, Dan Teodeorescu, and Radu Pop, joined respectively as Product Lead and Art Director.
George Katiniotis is the founder and CEO of the Greek robotics startup Myrmex. Established in 2015, Myrmex has developed technology that has potential applications for in-store locations, specifically for automating the grocery order pickup process. In May 2022, the startup was acquired by the UK tech company Ocado Group, which provides end-to-end online grocery fulfillment solutions to grocery retailers, in a deal worth €10.2M. A team of over 30 people from Myrmex joined the team of 2,500 technologists from Ocado Technology, and George Katiniotis continued to act as the CEO of Myrmex.
Haris Karonis is the co-founder of the Greek cloud-based neobank Viva Wallet, which was partially acquired by the U.S. bank JP Morgan Chase in January 2022. JP Morgan acquired a 49% stake in a deal that turned the fintech company into a unicorn with a valuation of €1.5B. As the remaining 51% of Viva stayed with the existing shareholders, the co-founders now continue to manage the company. Haris Karonis occupies the role of Viva Wallet’s CEO and Makis Antypas is acting as the CEO of Viva Bank and CIO of Viva Wallet.
Ilian Georgiev and Ivo Parashkevov are co-founders of Charlie Finance, an AI personal finance app for achieving debt freedom, that was acquired by Chime, one of the fastest-growing US fintechs, in August 2021. Founded in 2016 by the two Bulgarians and their US co-founder Rob Luedeman, Charlie is an AI text message app for personal finances that helps young adults reduce financial anxiety. The acquisition came shortly after the neobank for fee-free banking, Chime raised a $750M Series G funding which is believed to position Chime for a potential IPO this year. Today, Ivo Parashkevov leads Chime’s expansion into new markets, while Ilian Georgiev serves as the Product Strategy Advisor of Chime.
Ivan Brezak Brkan is the founder of the business and tech magazine Netokracija. In July 2022, the magazine was acquired by the global cloud communications company and the first Croatian unicorn Infobip for an undisclosed amount. The Croatian magazine, which has been operating in Croatia and Serbia for the last 13 years, became part of Infobip’s developer experience department. Ivan Brezak Brkan now takes over the role of Infobip’s director of developer content, and together with Tena Šojer Keser will lead the editorial team to create developer-focused web copy, blogs, videos, podcasts, and more.
Ivaylo Ivanov and Pressian Karakostov are the co-founders of PubGalaxy, the Bulgarian monetization platform for independent website publishers. In October 2020, the company was acquired by the Dutch media and entertainment tech company, Azerion, which focuses on the distribution, consumption, and monetization of digital gaming and entertainment content. After the acquisition, PubGalaxy now continues to operate as a separate unit and both the Sofia and the Varna offices remain functional. Ivanov keeps his role as the CEO of the company, while Karakostov occupies the position of Chairman of PhoneArena, Board Member of Endeavor Bulgaria, CEO of PK Capital, and Board Member of BESCO.
Ivaylo Karmazov is the co-founder of the Bulgarian online casino game developer Silverback Gaming. In December 2021, American gaming supplier GAN acquired Silverback Gaming, to allow the Bulgarian company to leverage GAN’s technological platform and distribution network to scale its portfolio into the US market. Founded in 2019, Silverback Gaming has developed online slot games such as Aztec Luck and Mystery Stacks, distributing them across European regulated markets to more than a hundred B2C iGaming operators. Now, Karmazov occupies the role of Senior Vice President Operations at GAN.
John Papadakis is co-founder of Pollfish, the Greek consumer insights, and market research software. In February 2022, Pollfish was acquired by Prodege, the US online marketing, consumer polling, and market research company for an estimated amount of $70M and $85M. Founded in 2013 by John Papadakis, Andreas Vourkos, Giannis Zaoudis, and Zissis Bellas, Pollfish has grown into a company with a team of 70 people, more than 50 of which are based in Greece, while the rest in the US. Now, Papadakis keeps his role as the CEO of Pollfish, while Vourkos remains the COO, and Bellas the CPO. Zaoudis exited the team in 2018.
Kosta Jordanov is the co-founder of FITE, a global pay-per-view platform for combat sports events. With more than 5000 streamed events and over 10 million users, FITE became the top-grossing app in the world across all categories. In April 2021, the streaming platform was acquired by the US-founded TrillerNet, which counts celebrities like Metallica, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne, and Pitbull among its investors. Together, they are now preparing for their public offering debut on NASDAQ. Today, Jordanov keeps his role as the CEO of FITE as part of TrillerNet.
Krassimir Piperkov is co-founder of the 3D spatial analytics startup Enview which was fully acquired by US NASDAQ-listed spatial analytics computing platform Matterport. Co-founded in 2015 by two Stanford alumni, the Bulgarian Krassimir Piperkov and the American San Gunawardana, Enview develops 3D geospatial analytics solutions. In the 6 years, it has been operational as a separate entity, Enview has raised a total of $20.5M in three funding rounds, the last one being a $12M post-Series A round in 2020 led by BrightCap Ventures. After the acquisition, Piperkov became the Head of Operations, R&D at Matterport.
Krum Hadjigeorgiev is the founder and active CEO of the Bulgarian software development company Melon, which was acquired by the UK-based digital consultancy Kin + Carta. According to the London stock exchange, the deal is worth £23.5M. Founded in 2003, the company has offices in Sofia and Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria, and Skopje in North Macedonia, and its work spans from web to mobile development, UX/UI, QA, Big Data, and DevOps. After the acquisition, Hadjigeorgiev kept his managerial role in Melon.
Lyubomir Klenov is the co-founder of Remixshop.com, a European fashion resale, and reuse company. In July 2021, the company was acquired by ThredUp Inc, one of the biggest online resale and secondhand fashion platforms for women and children, based in the US, for €24M. After the acquisition Remix keeps operating as an independent business unit and Lyubomir Klenov keeps his position as the company’s CEO and leads thredUP’s expansion in Europe.
Momchil Kyurkchiev is the co-founder of Leanplum, the US-Bulgarian company for mobile marketing engagement, which was acquired by the US-based retention cloud leader CleverTap in May 2022. Together, the two companies aim to build the first end-to-end user engagement and retention cloud platform. Co-founded by Andrew First and Momchil Kyurkchiev in 2012, the company helps brands to orchestrate multi-channel campaigns. Based in San Francisco, Leanplum has its technical and product engineering headquarters in Sofia, Bulgaria. After the acquisition, the Bulgarian office is said to become one of the main R&D centers of the company and Kyurkchiev assumed the role of Chief Strategy Officer at CleverTap.
Murry Ivanoff is the founder and CEO of Metrilo, the Bulgarian marketing, and sales analytics SaaS platform for e-commerce businesses. In September 2021, the company was acquired by Sendinblue, a French all-in-one digital marketing suite. Founded in April 2014 by Peter Iliev and Murry Ivanoff, Metrilo is an all-in-one analytics CRM, and email marketing platform. It allows online merchants and brands to use data-driven strategies and insights for customer growth and retention. After the acquisition, the Sofia office continues to work independently, while Murry Ivanoff keeps his role as the CEO of Metrilo and General Manager of the local office. He also became the Product Manager for Ecommerce Solutions in Sendinblue.
Nina Angelovska is co-founder and former CEO of the North Macedonian e-commerce startup Grouper. In May 2021, the startup was acquired by the Polish company Payten, which specializes in payment industry solutions. Grouper contributed to increasing online sales in North Macedonia by more than 350% and educated thousands of customers and businesses on how to shop and sell online. Now Nagelovska is President of the North Macedonian e-Commerce Association, an independent consultant in business development, e-commerce, management, and marketing, and a Forbes contributor.
Steven (Zaptio) Vasilev is the co-founder of the London-based startup RTFKT which uses technology to create sneaker designs, memes, and collectibles. In December 2021, the company was acquired by the American footwear manufacturing company Nike, Inc. RTFKT was launched in 2020 by Benoit Pagotto, Chris Le, and Steven Vasilev, who has Bulgarian and Russian roots. After the acquisition, Vasilev