In a major recruiting coup, online gaming company Kiip has just signed on former Zynga executive Manny Anekal as its Chief Operating Officer. Anekal was Zynga's Global Director of Brand Advertising and presided over a massive 233% increase in ad revenue, as well as spearheading the company's brand integration initiative.
Anekal innovated the concept of reciprocal value between gamers and advertisers, where advertisers offered something to game players that they can use within the game. Now it seems he's joined up with a company that has taken that idea even further.
Kiip has a unique take on the online gaming model. Their claim to fame is offering "real world rewards for virtual achievements." Mind you, they don't create the games that give real world rewards but incorporate their reward systems into existing games.
How it works is when players level up on games incorporated into Kiip's system, they get stuff. It's kind of like a daily deals model, except for gaming. Brands already working with Kiip to offer these rewards, include Pop Chips, Carl's Jr., Sephora, 1-800-FLOWERS, and Dr. Pepper.
Kiip's demo video makes the interesting point that gamers are going to be glued to their mobile devices trying to level up anyway. So rewarding them with brand deals is a pretty smart way to both monetize their screens and incentivize them to keep playing.
"Manny is a world-class operator and networker whose deep understanding of brands, helped him pioneer a different category of advertising for Zynga, while driving massive revenue growth," said Kiip CEO Brian Wong, in the company's release. "Manny’s philosophy at Zynga was reciprocity, giving back to the consumer, building a deeper engagement and that’s what Kiip is all about.”
Founded in 2010, Kiip has offices in San Francisco and New York. The company has received $4.3 million to date in funding, from such investors as True Ventures, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Crosslink Capital, and True Ventures, among others.
Manny Anekal is the company's 21st employee.
“Kiip is undeniably one of the world’s most innovative companies with a great story to tell... They’ve taken an angle that I’ve never seen any company tackle with such prowess, and the growth opportunity they sit on is absolutely massive. I’m excited to help them take this to the next level,” said Anekal, in Kiip's release.