The race to lead the location-based mobile apps craze just got a lot more interesting: Palo Alto, Calif.-based Booyah just raised a huge, $20 million round of funding, led by Accel Partners.
Booyah cofounder and CEO Keith Lee, who started the company after working at Blizzard Entertainment, says the company will use the money to hire people and invest in new projects, which it’ll be announcing soon.
Despite frequently being mentioned in the same sentence as Foursquare, the apps/companies are mainly only similar in the sense that their apps let you “check in” to places around you. While Foursquare is a fairly serious social utility based on the idea that you’re telling your friends what bar you’re at, Booyah’s MyTown is much more of a game. (It basically adds a Monopoly-like game on top of the whole “check-in” concept.)
And with $20 million more in its war chest, Booyah is going to continue down the mobile entertainment path, Lee tells us, aiming more to amuse than become a serious “connected city guide” or utility. That means it’s probably going to competing even less with the likes of Foursquare and Gowalla, and blazing a different trail focused on location-based gaming.
Why? Because as Lee explains, the “check-in” is going to be a commodity in a matter of months — everyone will have a “check-in” feature, ranging from the likes of Foursquare to Facebook and Google. It’s what happens after the check-in that is going to be valuable, Lee says, and he and Booyah plan to use location data specifically to make games.
Besides Lee, Booyah’s other cofounders are also Blizzard vets — chief creative officer Brian Morrisroe and CTO Sam Christiansen.
Booyah has now raised $29.5 million in total financing. Its first round was led by Kleiner Perkins’ iFund; Kleiner and prior investor DAG Ventures will also participate in this latest round.
Accel’s Jim Breyer will join Booyah’s board. Accel had been in the race to invest in Foursquare’s big new round, but is now obviously betting on the competition.
Here’s the release:
ACCEL PARTNERS CHECKS INTO BOOYAH: LEADS $20 MILLION FUNDING ROUND
Popular Location-Based Media Company
Adds Industry Luminary Jim Breyer to Board of Directors
Palo Alto, Calif. – May 17, 2010 – Booyah, creator of the popular location-based mobile app MyTown, has closed a $20 million round of financing and added renowned investor, Jim Breyer to its Board of Directors. Led by Accel Partners, a premier global venture firm with investments in technology-driven social media, advertising and mobile services, the new financing will be utilized to ignite and accelerate the company’s real and digital world offerings. Existing investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and DAG Ventures also participated in the round.
Since launching in December, MyTown rocketed upwards of more than 2 million users growing at over 100,000 new users week over week. MyTown passed 60 million check-ins and 250 million virtual item impressions a month. An immersive and addicting experience, users of MyTown spend an average of 70 minutes per day, establishing Booyah as the leader in real-world interactive entertainment.
“Booyah is at the epicentre of the fastest growing markets today–mobile, social, and interactive gaming,” stated Jim Breyer, Partner, Accel Partners. “Not only are they a next-generation entertainment company, but they are bridging the gap between consumers and businesses. The Booyah management team has both the passion and talent to innovate and create a wholly unique experience.”
Breyer currently is the lead & presiding Director of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc, (WMT), a Director of Dell, Inc (DELL), and a long-time investor & board member of companies such as Brightcove, Facebook, Etsy, and Marvel Entertainment (MVL).
“We are thrilled to work with a world-class partner such as Accel Partners with their experience across social, mobile and entertainment, said Keith Lee, CEO, Booyah. “The combination of Jim’s expertise in real world retail and cutting edge digital media mirrors our dedication to creating the most compelling real-world experiences. MyTown is a bold step to achieving this goal and we have very exciting plans in the near future to move far beyond the check-in.”
Unique to Booyah is their ability to blur the lines between the real and digital worlds. With extensive experience in the traditional gaming industry and cutting-edge mobile technologies, Booyah is poised to create new forms of entertainment for the masses and revolutionise the consumer experience. In the massively popular app MyTown users can check in at real-world locations using GPS features to unlock rewards. Players can purchase, upgrade and collect rent on their properties, enjoying MyTown ownership of their favourite real-life places.
Booyah, headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., is dedicated to creating new forms of entertainment to the masses by bringing together elements of the real world and the digital world. The entire development team draws its creativity not only from highly respected studios, including Blizzard Entertainment, Activision, EA and Insomniac Games, but also from a vast array of industries, such as the semi-conductor, consumer web and social gaming space. The Company is financed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’ iFund, DAG Ventures, and Accel Partners. Learn more at www.booyah.com.
About Accel Partners
Founded in 1983, Accel Partners is dedicated to partnering with outstanding entrepreneurs and management teams to build world-class companies. With over $6 billion under management, Accel has helped entrepreneurs build over 300 successful category-defining companies including: Admob, Alfresco, Arrowpoint, Baidu, BBN, Brightcove, ComScore, Etsy, Facebook, Focus Media, Gameforge, GlamMedia, Imperva, Infinera, Interwoven, JBoss, Kayak, Macromedia, metroPCS, Portal Software, QlikTech, Raptr, Real Networks, Redback Networks, Riverbed, Sohu.com, SunRun, UUNet, Veritas, Walmart.com, Webroot, XenSource, and Zimbra and others. For more information, visit the Accel Partners web site at www.accel.com.