PlayFirst Closes $9.2 Million Financing To Continue Push into Social and Mobile Games

Eric Hartness, Game Industry Veteran, Joins as Vice President/General Manager, Social Games

SAN FRANCISCO--()--PlayFirst® Inc., a leading publisher of engaging interactive entertainment, today announced the completion of a $9.2 million financing comprised of $5.2M of venture capital from existing investors including Mayfield Fund, Trinity Partners, DCM and Rustic Canyon Ventures, and $4.0 million in debt financing made available by Comerica Bank. Proceeds from the financing will be used to fund the company’s continued move into the burgeoning market for both mobile and social games. PlayFirst also announced that Eric Hartness, most recently chief marketing officer at PlaySpan, has joined the PlayFirst management team as vice-president and general manager, social games. In this new role, Hartness assumes responsibility for the overall strategy, execution and results for PlayFirst’s growing social game business.

“This financing enables us to keep our focus on the opportunities in the mobile and social gaming sectors and provides the flexibility to quickly respond to changes and opportunities as the market continues to shift rapidly. With this capital, we will continue to aggressively optimize the PlayFirst brands that consumers love, like Diner Dash, to social and mobile platforms and look for growth through partnerships and potential acquisitions,” said Mari Baker, president and chief executive of PlayFirst.

“PlayFirst, with its unique combination of best-selling casual game titles and emotionally engaging content, is well-positioned to thrive in today’s quickly growing market for social and mobile games,” said Gus Tai, general partner, Trinity Ventures. “We see tremendous market opportunity ahead and PlayFirst will continue to be part of that story.”

Recent Success on iPhone, iPad, Facebook

Over the past year, PlayFirst has continued to experience success across all platforms citing the following:

  • Extended Chocolatier®, a global brand with more than 40 million fans, to Facebook with the launch of Chocolatier: Sweet Society, now with over 800,000 monthly active users.
  • Built the “Dash” franchise into one of the Apple App Store’s most successful with three Top 100 Grossing Games: Diner Dash®, Cooking Dash® and Wedding Dash® which together totaled over 100 million play sessions to-date in 2010.
  • Participated in the iPad launch with an innovative new Diner Dash game, Diner Dash: Grilling Green, expressively designed for the unique touch-screen features of the iPad.
  • Continued to build the Diner Dash success story which now boasts more than half-a-billion downloads.

Game Industry Veteran Joins Management Team

Eric Hartness joins PlayFirst from PlaySpan where he has served as Chief Marketing Officer, leading PlaySpan’s Marketplace™ and Monetization-as-a-Service™ platform marketing efforts. Hartness joined PlaySpan after almost nine years with Electronic Arts where he was most recently vice president of marketing for its Redwood Shores studio and hit games Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Simpsons Game, The Godfather, and Dead Space. Previously, Hartness led EA’s digital distribution and subscription businesses developing new online revenue streams and maximizing existing ones. Hartness holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

“PlayFirst continues to build out a winning team for the social game space. The addition of Eric, whom I’m known for a number of years, brings a recognized leader to drive PlayFirst brands in the social game market,’ said Mike Vorhaus, president, Magid Advisors. “In fact, our recent research shows that Diner Dash is already better known among Facebook game players than many of the top Facebook games today,”

PlayFirst also announced the following staff additions:

  • Matt Levy joins PlayFirst as architect, social games from Loomia where he was Chief Architect developing personalization engines related to the web. Prior to Loomia, Levy spent over six years at Nokia largely working on the gaming platform, most recently as lead architect for the Games Community Platform where he architected the N-GAGE 2.0 platform and multiple subsequent releases of the N-GAGE SDK and Games Community Platform for multiple simultaneous devices and targets.
  • Lars Berg joined the company from Playdom as senior product manager; Roxanne Gibert joined as senior product manager from Playdom and Zynga; Ray Holmes joined as senior game designer from Playdom and Zynga, and Vamsi Prakhya joined as lead engineer from Zynga.

About PlayFirst

PlayFirst, a leading publisher of emotionally engaging interactive entertainment, is committed to providing compelling experiences that always delight customers. By creating engaging story worlds that capture the imagination, PlayFirst teams publish quality gaming experiences across popular platforms worldwide including PC, Mac®, iPhone®, Facebook, and consoles. The company's game portfolio includes world-renowned titles, such as Diner Dash®, Wedding Dash®, Cooking Dash®, Chocolatier®, and Dream Chronicles®. PlayFirst games are available in major retailers and on more than 500 sites in 20 languages. For more information, visit www.playfirst.com.

Notes: PlayFirst, Diner Dash, Flo, DinerTown, Wedding Dash, Cooking Dash, Chocolatier and Dream Chronicles are registered trademarks of PlayFirst, Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

Contacts

For media information, visuals or interviews:
ONE PR Studio for PlayFirst
Anne Marie Stein, 510-893-3271, ext. 109
annemarie@oneprstudio.com
or
Dana Whitney, 510-893-3271, ext. 101
dana@oneprstudio.com

Release Summary

Leading game publisher announces funding to push social and mobile business, and new hire Eric Hartness, Vice President and General Manager of Social Games.

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Contacts

For media information, visuals or interviews:
ONE PR Studio for PlayFirst
Anne Marie Stein, 510-893-3271, ext. 109
annemarie@oneprstudio.com
or
Dana Whitney, 510-893-3271, ext. 101
dana@oneprstudio.com