Kiip raises $4M for in-game advertising

Faith Merino · April 5, 2011 · Short URL:

The stealth company gets support from Hummer Winblad, Crosslink, and True Ventures

Kiip, the in-game advertising solution that is in super (DUPER) secret stealth mode announced Tuesday a $4 million Series A round led by Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, with help from Crosslink Capital and existing investor True Ventures. True to form, Kiip is being super (DUPER) vague about how the funds will be used—since it’s still in stealth mode—saying only that it plans to use the funds to “bridge the gap between mobile advertising and mobile gaming.”

While the details of the company remain covertly hidden from the public eye, CEO Brian Wong dropped a few hints in a recent interview with VatorNews. Kiip isn’t just a mobile gaming company or an advertising company. The company’s unique solution will harness the singular engagement that you only see with gamers—both diehard and casual—to deliver strategic in-game ads. The beauty of it is that these days, everyone is a gamer. Where console games once required someone with great hand-eye coordination and arthritis-proof thumbs, the casual gamer can be anyone with a phone and a few minutes to kill. This became undeniably clear to me recently when the least coordinated person I know (she frequently spills her drink when she talks because she forgets she’s holding it) and also the most anti-video game person I know revealed to me the other day that she’s addicted to Angry Birds.

"This type of obsession...this type of engagement was really the holy grail of engagement...something we should try to leverage," Brian told me when I sat down with him in January, adding that banner ads are just not cutting it, which is where Kiip will come in to pick up the slack. He explained that advertisers today are too focused on impressions, and that Kiip will take a different tactic in that it will emphasize action, which is really the whole essence of mobility.  You're on the go--you choose to be engaged whenever and wherever you want.

When I asked Brian for more details on how the new capital will be used (and to show me the secret heart of Kiip), he said coyly: "More news on the plans for our business is coming next week."

In addition to the new funds, Kiip also announced today that Lars Leckie, Partner at Hummer Winblad, is joining the company’s newly formed Board of Directors. The company has also added a few new key hires. Chris Kobran, formerly Director of sales at Digg, will be joining Kiip as VP of sales, and Dan Silberberger, formerly of Live Gamer and EA Mobile, joins as VP of business development.

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Kiip lets premium brands provide rewards to casual mobile gamers for in-game achievements. Their platform is designed for in-game engagement via a universal game moment: the achievement moment. Catch the user while they are the most engaged, happy, and attentive. They're the first solution to help premium brands reach the exploding casual mobile gaming market using real estate in meaningful moments. Currently the network reaches just over 20 million smartphone players worldwide.

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