After market close today, Zynga announced that it was acquiring Benchmark portfolio company NaturalMotion for $527MM in cash and stock.
Cyanogen, Inc. has announced its $7MM Series A financing, led by Benchmark.
Kim-Mai Cutler wrote an interesting piece in Techcrunch this week about venture financing and the games business. Greatly simplified, her main thesis is that venture capital may not be the best vehicle for financing video game companies. In general, I agree with her – for the vast majority of game companies. But not all games companies.
It is interesting to think about EA’s assets and the current state of the digital game economy in light of the challenges a new leader at EA might face.
I love this conference (for my take on last year's SSAC, click here). I have zero professional connection to the world of sports business or analytics, and I rarely discover anything investable here, but I still find this two-day affair one of the most thought provoking and fascinating on my calendar.
The always-insightful Dean Takahashi wrote a long piece on The DeanBeat yesterday about the fall of OnLive. As the Series A investor in one of OnLive’s rivals, Gaikai, I was a pretty active observer of OnLive and of the cloud gaming market generally. I think Dean provides a thorough – if somewhat gentle – overview of the facts of OnLive’s collapse and his piece is totally worth reading.
Today Sony announced an agreement to acquire Benchmark portfolio company Gaikai for $380MM in cash. In just four years, Gaikai built a revolutionary cloud technology platform for gaming. To see console-quality games streamed from the cloud to browsers, tablets and TV is truly magical.
Today Benchmark announced an $11MM investment in NaturalMotion, a publisher of 3D games for mobile devices. I am joining NaturalMotion's board of directors. Many people in the packaged-goods games business know NaturalMotion from their Euphoria and Morpheme 3D animation engines, which have been used in high-end console games to produce incredibly realistic character animation (if you've played Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption, for example, you've seen this in action).
If you've played Journey from Jenova Chen's thatgamecompany (TGC) you know you have experienced something strange and magical, something that feels totally unique and yet fun and full of the pleasures that games can deliver (and if you haven't played it, and you own a PS3, stop reading this post and go download it). If you've also played Flower and Flow, you know that Jenova is one of the most ambitious and creative forces in games.
The other day, a friend sent me an introduction to a game company with a note saying, in effect, "I thought you might be interested in this since you invest in content."
The fascinating MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference which took place in Boston this weekend (and which I had the privilege to attend) is known affectionately by its attendees as "Dork-palooza" -- a celebration of the number crunchers and obsessive compulsive fans of sports statistics. Panelists, researchers, and attendees discussed a wide variety of topics with a very ambitious goal: to change the way we watch and measure team, individual, and business performance in sport.
Benchmark Capital has announced an investment in Meteor Entertainment, the publishing company that will bring the amazing mech shooter Hawken to market, together with Adhesive Studios, later this year.
As was widely reported yesterday, the Chinese internet giant Tencent has agreed to acquire a majority of the capital stock of Los Angeles-based Riot Games, a Benchmark portfolio company. The transaction is a huge validation of Riot's meteoric rise to prominence in the online game business. CEO Brandon Beck, his co-founder Marc Merrill and the team at Riot have executed their business plan brilliantly, and the Tencent transaction now gives them a global platform to continue to disrupt the video game business for years to come. Congratulations!
I got a lot of feedback about my EA post. Since this blog is normally read by around 50 people, I welcome the new visitors. But because many people are here for the first time with no context, I think it's important that I try to distinguish the forest from the trees.
After the bell today, EA announced a massive miss for their fiscal year, reducing revenue and earnings per share expectations. CFO Eric Brown also said in a conference call that they expect the packaged goods business to be flat to down for Fiscal 2011.