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Playfirst and Vuze Close Series C Financings

vuze playfirstEmployees at San Francisco based PlayFirst and Palo Alto based Vuze  should all enter the holiday period smiling and reassured.  Wednesday, both the Casual Gamer and IPTV startups closed substantial Series C Financings.

For PlayFirst, the deal brought $16.5m of holiday cheer.  DCM led the round and existing investors including Mayfield Fund, Trinity Ventures and Rustic Canyon Partners also participated.   Including prior rounds, the new investment brings the cumulative investment in PlayFirst to $26.5m

PlayFirst was founded in 2004.   They were one of the first gaming companies to experiment, and successfully incorporate, micro-transactions into game play.  Using this functionality, instead of buying a game outright, game players can play basic levels for free and then pay small transaction fees to unlock advanced functionality or added features.

Claims are the micro-transaction revenue model has doubled revenues for the company since 2006.  The new investment will be directed toward the development of new games, and to expand the company’s reach into both consoles and portable game players. They also expect to expand into to Asia and other global markets.

In a partnership with RockYou, PlayFirst will also distribute some of their games on social networking site, Facebook.

Vuze, a peer to peer video content service focused on offering high resolution video content raised $20m in their Series C Round.  The round was led by New Enterprise AssociatesRedpoint Ventures, Greycroft Partners and BV Capital also participated. 

As a content service, Vuze launched in January 2007.  The company existed prior to that launch as Azureus Inc.  Independently and under the former name, the company’s principals were responsible for creating popular open source bit torrent file sharing software, Azureus in 2003 .  That program went on to become one of the most popular applications for bit torrent peer to peer file sharing. The client software for the Vuze content service is, in fact, built on an upgraded version of the prior Azureus platform.

While in development, the company was referred to by the codename Zudeo.

Since launching as as service, Vuze claims to have secured more than 100 premium content partnerships in the U.S. and Europe. They also report an installed base of 15m client downloads.

Vuze competes against other well funded IPTV services like Joost, Babelgum and Veoh. They distinguish themselves by emphasizing DVD-quality and HD Video content.

As part of the new financing, Mike Ramsay, former co-founder of TiVo, will join the company’s board of directors.  Jarl Mohn, chairman of CNET, is also on the board along with representatives from venture investors and the company’s founders.


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