Month: October 2008

Mandalay buys AMV

Twistbox owner Mandalay has bought European D2C firm AMV for $22.8m in cash, shares and deferred consideration. AMV operates the D2C brands Bling et al.. The new European HQ is to be at AMV’s UK location in Marlow, which presumably means a demotion of Twistbox’s Charismatix branch.

The rationale of the deal appears to be this:

The combination of Twistbox’s global on-deck distribution with AMV’s direct-to-consumer expertise uniquely positions Mandalay Media to deliver compelling consumer propositions while maximizing revenues for its wireless operator and content partners,” stated Twistbox CEO Ian Aaron.

Whether or not this position is “unique” does not really matter. And why a D2C offering maximizes operator revenues is at least unclear, too, but hey, who cares? What is true is that¬†Twistbox runs some operator decks and has – through the old Charismatix links and its adult footprint – some decent links on a number of carriers in Western Europe. To bolster this with ¬£10m of D2C revenue (this is the number the AMV website would make us believe) makes sense as the sensitivity of carriers to accept competing offerings outside their decks might well lessen. In this case Mandalay/Twistbox/AMV may indeed be onto something. The remaining question might be if the (current) breadth of distribution they have is enough. But it’s not the end of days…

Mandalay/Twistbox has by now ramped up a decent amount of venture cash (see here for a previous round) and is yet still seen to be breaking into the top tier. Come on, guys!

Playfish fishes for big bucks

Playfish, the social network gaming company founded by wireless industry veteran Kristian Segerstrale, announced a series B round worth a very respectable $17m from Accel Partners and Index Ventures. Playfish boasts 10m monthly users and claims that 4 of its 5 games are in Facebook’s top 10. The company also said it recently joined Google’s in-game advertising solution and presumably banks on capitalizing on this success. No word on financials but they surely are getting their slice of it (just how thick that slice is, I’d like to know). No word either on any mobile activities (which might be coming given Kristian’s background as founder of Macromedia).

Playfish’s mantra is to enable people to play games with their real-world friends via the infrastructure provided by social networks, and I can confirm that this works: I am an avid player of their games, particularly “Who has the biggest brain?” (I am no. 5 amongst my friends so far; a list which is topped by Kristian and I cannot help but think that he might possess cheat codes…).
A round of this size by investors of this pedigree raised in these times deserves our unreserved respect. You rock, guys!

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