Going into the holiday weekend, two Santa Monica companies joined the ranks of the newly funded. Jacked, an interactive Internet TV-companion platform has raised $6.5m and gaming company Trilogy Studios has closed a $3.2m second round.
Trilogy Studios was founded in 2005 by gaming industry veterans. The founding team includes Michael Pole, the former EVP of Product Development for Vivendi Universal Games, Rick Giolito, a former VP at Electronic Arts and Mark Skaggs, another EA former VP. The company raised $2.9m in 2005. It is unclear if the company is developing their own titles. So far, they seem to be focused on third party development of virtual world and multiplayer gaming environments. Notably, they were significant contributors to the design and launch of MTV’s Virtual Pimp My Ride. Chichen Itza Ventures, which runs social-networking site There.com via parent company Makena technologies appears to have led the round (the investment was first mentioned two weeks ago but was not yet closed.).
Jacked was founded by Bryan Biniak the managing director of Provenance Ventures. The company provides interactive companion features that exist alongside live television programming, primarily sports. That means, if you’re watching a game and there’s a touchdown, the site’s assorted widgets will provide you with related statistics, news and information. The service, which seems like little more than a novelty right now, will launch this weekend in partnership with NBC Sports for the Notre Dame football game. Biniak’s firm, Provenance Ventures, unsurprisingly led the financing. Core Capital Partners and Gabriel Ventures also participated.
Provenance, which manages a tiny sum of $10m, launched in August 2006 and made its first investment in Jacked, $500k, a month later. The fund’s initial focus was to make extremely small entry investments of 250k to 500k in 20 to 40 companies. Such early seed investments, as many Angel investors have learned, can often be fruitless between the risks of startup and the dilution (or cram down) that can occur when larger sums of professional money are needed to meet development milestones or expand the business. Provenance doesn’t appear to have made any other investments, or at least doesn’t appear to have been named in any press releases. Jacked seems to be their primary focus.