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Finland’s Jolla, maker of Sailfish OS, is trying to cut ties with Russia – TechCrunch

Jolla, a Finnish startup that develops a cellular Linux-based different to Google’s Android which has had some take-up by the Russian authorities previously, is trying to restructure its enterprise to jettison hyperlinks to the Russian state.

We reached out to the startup earlier this week to ask if it was involved concerning the affect of looming EU sanctions on Russia — given how, since 2018, it has counted Russian telecom firm, Rostelecom, as a strategic investor.

“We have actually ramped down business and exports to Russia already in 2021,” CEO and co-founder Sami Pienimäki informed TechCrunch. “Thus, the potential tech sanctions would not impact Jolla’s business anymore. In parallel, Jolla is growing in particular rapidly in the automotive sector, and it formed already significant part of our 2021 revenues.”

“In regards the ownership, that is correct, and something we’re looking to re-structure during this year,” he additionally confirmed.

Sailfish has been certified in Russia for presidency and company use since 2016.

The following yr its native licensee available in the market, an organization referred to as Open Mobile Platform, could possibly be heard gleefully touting a “totally Google-free” debut Sailfish machine for the Russian market on the annual Mobile World Congress convention.

Then in 2018, Russian press reported that Rostelecom was in search of regulatory clearance for the acquisition of a 75% stake in Open Mobile Platform and an entity referred to as Votron, which was reported to personal a majority stake in Jolla. And that transaction seems to be how the Russian telco — which is partially state-owned — got here to be the biggest holder of Jolla shares.

But it’s an possession construction that Jolla has now determined is now not viable — making a “difficult situation” which it implies has impeded its capability to develop in Europe.

That stated, back in 2019 Jolla stated it was concentrating the majority of its vitality on the Russia market — more than likely because of this of its possession ties to Russia. So it’s an enormous reversal for the corporate to be pulling every thing out only a few years later.

Although last summer Jolla introduced it had lastly hit profitability (in 2020). And, in accordance to Pienimäki, it was rising vital income final yr outdoors the Russian market.

In a press release posted to LinkedIn right now (in Finnish), Samuli Simojoki the chairman of Jolla’s board, put extra meat on the bones of its new aim of distancing itself from Russia — hinting that it’s hoping to discover a purchaser for the Rostelecom stake, doubtlessly from the automotive sector, or maybe by taking assist from the Finnish authorities (if supplied).

“Putin’s invasion of Ukraine forces each of us to evaluate our own actions in relation to Russia,” Simojoki writes [translated from Finnish using machine translation].

“It would be easy to say that you do not want to work for a company with such a significant indirect ownership by the Russian State. Jolla has for some time been looking for a shareholding structure that would provide a balanced ownership structure and significantly reduce Russian ownership… In the new situation, it is clear that the company has no future without a complete divestment of Russian ownership.”

Simojoki goes on to say that Jolla has already actively run down its Russian enterprise through the previous yr — and “will not generate any revenue from Russia”.

“The only tie is therefore ownership,” he goes on, including: “The firm has some actually attention-grabbing enterprise openings in each the automotive and working system sectors. Several European international locations have lengthy indicated that they’d enter into cooperation directly as soon as the possession construction is rectified.

“The firm has an ongoing and optimistic dialogue with Finnish authorities representatives on these points. One of Jolla Oy’s necessary companions is Daimler, and Jolla’s Board of Directors features a Daimler consultant. We have had an ongoing dialogue with Daimler in current days concerning the state of affairs, and Daimler’s illustration on the board might be maintained.

“The aim is therefore to save the company through the ownership structure described above.”

One cause why Jolla could entice curiosity from the automotive sector is a brand new produce it launched last year focused at industries utilizing embedded Linux-compatible platforms (comparable to automotive makers). This AppSupport for Linux Platforms product permits such techniques to run Android apps without having to license Google’s personal automotive choices.

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