Kiip raises new funding from American Express

Steven Loeb · August 15, 2013 · Short URL:

Mobile ad/reward network looks to expand into new verticals beyond gaming

Mobile ad/reward network Kiip, which provides  rewards to casual mobile gamers for in-game achievements, has raised a new round of funding from American Express Ventures, it was revealed in a blog post Thursday.

The exact amount of the investment was not revealed, however, with CEO Kiip CEO Brian Wong instead focusing on what the investment will mean for the company going forward.

"Every once in awhile you come across partnerships and collaboration opportunities that just make sense. At Kiip, we’ve had a history of working with great strategics and pushing amazing results. Whether it be with existing investors Verizon and their developer community or IPG and its Mediabrands division, Kiip’s ecosystem of investors, developers, brands, and consumers becomes stronger with every partnership," Wong wrote.

"With Kiip approaching its 3rd anniversary, and celebrating a series of wins, we are excited to announce our latest: an investment from American Express Ventures. They’ll be a part of our incredible roster of strategic investors and I am confident that our ecosystem will become even stronger as a result."

The company had previously raised $15.3 million in three rounds of funding: it first raised $300,000 in seed funding in October 2010, followed by a $4 million Series A round led by Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, with help from Crosslink Capital and existing investor True Ventures in April 2011. The company most recently raised $11 million in a Series B round of funding led by Relay Ventures, with help from existing investors Hummer Winblad and True Ventures in July 2012.

The San Francisco-based Kiip was launched as a mobile gaming ad network by the then 19 year old Wong, and the company made a name for itself by strategically offering gamers branded rewards right at the moment of achievement—when the user makes it to the next level or trounces his or her opponent. 

The rewards, averaging $5 in value, are fairly simple—things like a $5 gift card to American Apparel or a sample from Bath & Body Works.

Since then, Kiip has opened up its network to developers who have experimented with applying the mobile rewards system to other apps, such as fitness apps, education apps, content apps, social apps, and more. 

Last year the company unveiled its own developers fund, a $100,000 "Build" fund for independent game developers to build integrating Kiip from the get go. It also debuted its very own app, dubbed “Kiipsake,” which will act as a mobile wallet for all of your Kiip rewards, this past July.

Wong revealed In Thursday's post that he has been working closely with Harshul Sanghi, who heads the group.

"I’ve had the pleasure of working with Harshul over the past year, and I am extremely supportive of his mission in the venture ecosystem. Amex’s strategic investment model is a unique one that supports entrepreneurs and builds the right connections at the right time between both parties," said Wong.

This investment from American Express Ventures could signal exciting things to come for Kiip, which has clear plans to become "even more integrated into peoples’ lives beyond gaming." Partnering with AmEx could be a sign that it will begin offering rewards in the digital payments space as well.

VatorNews contacted Wong to find out what exactly the partnership between Kiip and American Express would look like and this is the answer we got: " American Express built the worlds most prominent loyalty program with Membership Rewards, and Kiip is al about rewarding the moment."

Beyond that, Wong said, he could not reveal anything else at this time. So, based on how Kiip works, we can only venture a guess as to what it may entail.

As I said above, Kiip offers rewards to gamers when they reach an achievement. So perhaps it will do the same for American Express card holders, offering them rewards for achievements on their American Express card. For example, if they, let's say, spend a certain amount or shop a certain number of times at the same store in a given period of time. 

For Kiip, a partnership like this allows the company to spread out to new verticals and branch out beyond gaming. For American Express, it gives the company a way to reward loyal customers.

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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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