Social casino gaming co Plumbee raises $14 million

Plumbee offers free-to-play games, but is looking to expand to real-money gaming

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
December 16, 2013
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/33c7

For many gaming companies there are multiple ways to make money, but one of the biggest opportunities seems to be in real money gaming. Even struggling companies can raise investor hopes by saying they want to get into the space; case in point, Zynga, which dropped like a stone once it abandoned that goal.

But plenty of other companies are ready to pick up that baton, including social and mobile casino games startup Plumbee, which has raised $14 million in Series B funding, the company announced in a blog post on Monday.

The vast majority of the investment came from Endemol, a TV production house behind such game shows as Fear Factor and Deal Or No Deal. Endemol put $13 million into the company, with the additional $1 million coming from existing investor Idinvest Partners.

Plumbee previously raised $2.8 million in March of last year. This latest round brings its total funding to $16.8 million.

Through its strategic investment, Endemol and Plumbee will be working together going forward, with Plumbee looking to learn from Endemol's experience leveraging brands, Plumbee co-founder and CEO Raf Keustermans, told me in an interview.

Branding, he said, is new to Plumbee, but it is becoming more important, and Endemol's experience can come in handy when it comes to distribution, trademarks, copyrights and other legal matters.

"They have experience in creating content and strong brands, as well as making sure those brands don’t just live on TV screen," Keustermans said. "That means creating apps and games, and developling a strong following across the globe."

The partnership between the two companies may also mean that Plumbee may incorporate those brands into its games going forward.

So will we be seeing a Deal or No Deal game on Plumbee any time soon? No, Keustermans told me, that is not the intention from either side right now but, he added, "never say never."

Keustermans stressed to me that Endemol did not take a majority control of the company, and he noted that they will have to learn how to work together going forward.

"We will lean on them and see if they can help," he said, "and they will have to let us keep doing what we do well."

Founded in 2011 by three former Playfish executives, Keustermans, Gerald Tan and Jodi Moran, the London-based Plumbee specializes free-to-play in social casino gaming.

The company will be using the new money to both expand internationally, and to build up its team.

Right now, Keustermans told me, the majority of its users are in the United States, due to its availability on iOS, Android and Facebook. Going forward, though, the company will be looking to expand to regions where those platforms are not as strong, including Asia and Russia.

As for the team, the company current has 54 employee and 12 open positions. Keustermans expects the team to grow beyond that, though; he says it will employee 70 to 75 people within the next six to nine months.

Plumbee has entered into the real money gaming business through a joint venture with Unibet, called Bonza Gaming, which it owns 50% of. But Plumbee currently only offers only free-to-play games on its own platform.

While it does want to eventually expand to real money gaming, Keustermans told me that when that will happen depends on several factors. That includes external ones, such as regulation, taxation, as well as internal factors.

"We want to make sure we do it at right time," he said. "We have to walk before we run."

launched its first game, Mirrorball Slots, an AAA social casino game last year, and has grown more than one million monthly active users.

(Image source: www.plumbee.com)

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