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Venture Wrap Up: Challenge Games and WEBook

fundedFrom the venture wires, two startups closed new financings this week: Austin, Texas based game company, Challenge Games, and Bethesda, Maryland based online book publishing community WEbook.

Challenge Games
Based in Austin, Challenge Games was founded in 2006 with the aim of building short-form (playable in short term increments) multiplayer games.  To date, the company has launched two free browser based games: Duels (released Aug. 07) and Baseball Boss (released July ’08). 

According to Tech Crunch, the company has raised an additional $10m in a series B round.  The financing was led by Globespan Capital Partners and also included prior investor, Sequoia.

The funds are reportedly intended to fuel the launch of a new title called Warstorm and help the company expand into Asia.

Just two months ago, in July, the company announced they’d closed a $4.5m Series A led by Sequoia Capital.  Sequoia partner Roelof Botha became a member of the company’s board of directors at that time.

When you think of book publishing, the image is usually of a single manuscript toting writer.   Bethesda based WEBook  is something different.  Unlike services like Blurb, Lulu or Amazon’s Booksurge, all of which aim to help the aspiring writer publish for themselves, WEBook is crowd sourced – a group project.

What that means is, books assembled on WEbook’s web service are largely (though not entirely) group written.  It’s sort of the choose-your-own-adventure offering for the online book publishing services, a web community aimed at building collaborative publications. You can create your own project or join another writer’s great American novel in progress. The resulting titles, once complete, are sold with authors and WEBook sharing the revenue.

The  first book, Pandora, was published with the input of 34 writers (each writing short segments) over a period of six months.  It’s sold at the WEBook bookstore for $5.99. 

The idea of reading fiction written from ten, or twenty or thirty, different perspectives sounds about as appealing as a root canal but the company says an audience is building.  Since launching in April 2008, they claim to be drawing more than 500k unique monthly visitors. The WeBook website shows more than 600 active projects.    

The new financing, $5m, was provided by Vertex Venture Capital and prior investor Greylock Partners Israel.

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