Market Overview

The Next Zynga Starts with $14 Million


Accel Partners has put its faith in Dragonplay, a free-to-play social games developer.

The developer announced today that it has secured $14 million in Series A funding from Accel Partners. The company said that it will use this money to build on its "chart-topping catalog" of games and to expand its team.

Those are the common words of a startup -- or any young company, really -- that has received a large sum of money from a venture capital firm. But with such an enormous amount of money going into the firm, and with Accel's track record in game-related investments (Playfish, Gameforge, Rovio, and Mindcandy), this seems to be somewhat significant.

In its press release regarding the new funds, Dragonplay said that it is best known for the game Live Holden Poker Pro, which has frequently ranked as the top app on Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Play's "Highest Grossing" chart. The game has been installed more than 12 million times and has acquired more than two million monthly active players.

"The company will use the investment from Accel to expand its existing portfolio of games on Android and Facebook, launch on new platforms including iOS, grow its team and game development capacity, and consider studio acquisitions," Dragonplay wrote in its company release.

Founded in 2010 by Sharon Tal (who used seed capital from funds represented by Entrée Capital), Dragonplay describes itself as an "early-mover" on Android that has "quickly emerged as one of the top developers on Google Play."

Again, these are the typical, ultra-positive statements of a company that just received a pot of gold. But as one of the first companies to take advantage of (and benefit from) the app store formerly known as Android Market, Dragonplay is in a great position. In fact, it isn't all that different from where Zynga (NYSE: ZNGA) was standing a couple of years ago. At that time, Facebook gaming was in its infancy. Despite its popularity, some would say that Facebook gaming is still the infant of the industry. But Zynga found a way to get in there and, if it couldn't actually make millions, it certainly gave the media and investors the perception that it could. And it did so -- in part -- by getting there first.

Dragonplay is going to have a hard time entering new markets, especially those that are already overcrowded. But as a powerhouse developer in Google's world, it might just have a bright future.

That, of course, is what Accel Partners is counting on. "The Accel team has backed some of the most admired gaming companies in the world," Sharon Tal, founder and CEO of Dragonplay, said in a company release. "We are proud to be joining its portfolio and look forward to working with the team to make Dragonplay a truly global, cross-platform leader in our space."

Not surprisingly, Accel had an equally positive thing to say about the investment. "Dragonplay benefits directly from the spectacular growth of Android (estimated at more than 800,000 new activations per day), the emergence of smartphones as a primary gaming platform and the impressive growth of the virtual goods market” Adam Valkin, a partner at Accel Partners, said in a company release. Valkin is also a new board member at Dragonplay. “This, together with Dragonplay's cross-platform approach and the team's excellent performance-to-date, suggests that the company is well-positioned to continue its rapid growth.”

Accel Partners isn't the only firm investing in Dragonplay. Founder Collective and the aforementioned Entrée Capital are investing alongside Accel Partners as well.

Follow me @LouisBedigian

Posted-In: Acell Partners Dragonplay Entree Capital Founder CollectiveSuccess Stories Startups Tech Best of Benzinga


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