Crowdstar raises first round, led by Intel

Ronny Kerr · May 23, 2011 · Short URL:

First round of capital for profitable social gaming startup: ready to overtake EA, Zynga next?

Intel Capital announced Monday that it has invested in social and mobile gaming studio Crowdstar. The venture arm actually invested a total of $24.5 million in four different startups, including Crowdstar, but I had to reach out to discover how much each startup received. I’ll update this post once we hear back.

Other participants in the round include Chinese game operator The9 and NVInvestments.

Remarkably, this is the first round of funding for the Burlingame, Calif.-based startup, which has been cranking out games since 2008. Maybe you’ve heard of Happy Aquarium, Happy Pets or Happy Island, three of Crowdstar’s most popular games, each with over two million monthly active users.

The company’s biggest success to date has to be It Girl, an RPG where you play as a girl that likes to get dressed up and go to parties. Thrilling, right? Well, It Girl today sees eight million users every month flocking to put on some fashionable clothes and party.

Not only that, but many of them are handing over cash for fancy virtual goods. Soon after the game first launched half a year ago, Crowdstar chairman Peter Relan said that the game was making at least three times more money per player than the company’s previous game releases.

Despite all that, Crowdstar still trails market leader Zynga, which serves a total of 225.4 million monthly active users and, with a much smaller lead, Electronic Arts (plus Playfish) with 32.0 million. Crowdstar ranks sixth on All Facebook’s developer chart, with 29.2 mililon monthly active users.

To match its newfound funding, Crowdstar is aggressively hiring across all its departments. Among the 25 or so listings are open positions for artists, engineers, marketers and more.

Here are the three other startups that shared in Intel Capital’s $24.5 million investment:

  • iStreamPlanet, provider of live and on-demand content creation, management, security, monetization and delivery services, built for use across multiple screens and devices.
  • Music Mastermind, developer of SoundBetter, an audio processing suite aiming to lower the barrier to music creation.
  • PerspecSys, enabling enterprise adoption of cloud computing by addressing sensitive data Privacy, Residency, and Security (PRS) concerns.

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