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Venture Round Up: 4 Recently Funded

fundedThere are indexes tracking just about any business metric you can think of.  For 4.5 a half years, University of San Francisco professor Mark Cannice has been tracking venture capitalist confidence.  In early July he reported the second quarter result for his index was down to 3.07 on a 5 point scale.  It was the third consecutive new low in the Index’ history.   Still, despite VC’s concerns about the economy and the state of their investments,  there’s no shortage of companies getting funded.  In the media world,  Heat Wave, Clickable, Crowd Fusion and NGMoco have all recently closed new rounds.  Here are the details in  the Metue Venture Wrap Up:


ngmoco Series A:Value Unknown

NG:Moco, short for Next Generation Mobile Company, received an undisclosed sum in a first round financing led by Kleiner Perkins $100m iPhone-only iFund investment initiative.

The company is aiming to build and license games for the iPhone platform that fall somewhere between the current first-pass offerings available now and the more sophisticated class of games available for portable game consoles like Nintendo’s DS or Sony’s PSP.  Some will be more “casual” in nature and others aimed at more “hard core” gamers.

By the company’s logic – there is opportunity that lies in the middle price point between the $5 typically paid for an iPhone download and the $25-$35 paid for a cartridge based DS or PSP title. 

The hardware on the iPhone , including its tilt sensor, many believe is more than capable of supporting a high quality gaming experience.    The numbers seem to support that claim.  While currently less than 10 percent of US cell phone users play games on their phones (via Nielsen) Gartner Group forecasts cell-phone gaming revenues could rise from $845 million in 2008 to $1.2 billion in 2011 in the U.S. alone.   Apple is leading that change.  Currently about half of the top downloads of Apple’s Appstore are games

Many competitors seem to agree too.  Electronic Arts mobile division (launching “Spore” in September), Sega (currently selling “Super Monkey Ball”), Sweden’s Illusion Labs, Gameloft, and others are working in the same space.

Ngmoco is led by Neil Young, a veteran of EA (not the rocker of the same name). Young left EA in June after working on titles including the Sims 2 and the hyped upcoming release, Spore.

As part of the deal, Bing Gordon a 26 year EA veteran himself and a newly established Kleiner partner (he left EA in April) will join the company’s board.


crowd fusion $3m Series A

Brian Alvey had success with blog network Weblogs which was bought by AOL in 2005.  Now’s he’s apparently trying to take some of the lessons learned and turn them into another achievement.  This time he’s focusing on infrastructure.

Crowd Fusion, his new start up, is in stealth mode. Few details are available but the company seems to be focused on some sort of web publishing content management system (CMS).

It’s unclear how they differentiate themselves from existing publishing platforms, or where in the marketplace, they’re targeting.

Whatever they’re up to – it was enough to convince Velocity Interactive Group, Greycroft Partners and Marc Andreesen to invest $3m.


clickable logo $14.5m Series B

Big Advertisers have no shortage of tools available to assist their campaign planning and management but smaller businesses can’t always afford quality or bespoke solutions.  That’s especially true when it comes to managing large search ad campaigns across multiple properties (Google, Microsoft etc).

New York based Clickable launched in February with a web based environment designed to cure that pain.  The company provides a dashboard interface with tools to manage and monitor the campaign.

In a second round led by Founders Fund, the company has raised $14.5m.  Union Square Ventures and FirstMark Capital also joined the round as did prior investors including Jonathon Miller (former CEO of AOL and a partner at Velocity Interactive) and Peter Thiel (co-founder Paypal).

The company has raised approximately $22.5m in the last twelve months. They were founded in July 2006.  The Series A round was completed in December 2007 ($6m) and led by Pequot Ventures and Union Square Ventures.


heatwave interactive $7.5m Series A

Developing console games or Massively Multiplayer Online titles (MMOGs) can cost sums running into the tens of millions.  With that level of expense come risks few small developers can afford.

Austin based Heatwave Interactive is hoping to mitigate some of the exposure buy using a financial model similar to that used to finance some Hollywood movies.   Specifically, the company plans to internally fund early stage development and vetting of new game titles.  Once past initial incubation, they will then seek outside investors to fund the remaining development.  Said CEO Donn Clendenon “this model enables designers and artists to be creative and innovative while at the same time reducing the risk to investors, publishers and strategic partners.”

Raising money can be time consuming, challenging and distracting.  As a result, there’s considerable risk in having to “go to the well” for every title that comes through the pipeline.  Presumably, Heatwave will have the relationships and infrastructure in place to streamline that process and allow them to incubate new titles.

Media and communications centric VC firm Syncom which previously invested in B.E.T., Radio One and XM Satellite radio committed $7.5m in a Series A financing to see if they can deliver.

The company launched in early 2007.

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