Pocket Gems Lands Funding from Sequoia Capital and Silicon Valley Luminaries

Funding to Fuel Growth for Mobile Gaming Startup Whose Chart-Topping Titles Have Been Downloaded More Than 15 Million Times

Dec 15, 2010, 11:35 ET from Pocket Gems

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 15, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Pocket Gems, developer of a series of phenomenally successful mobile social games, today announced that it has secured growth financing of $5 million.  The investment round was led by Sequoia Capital, the venture investors behind well-known technology brands such as Apple, Electronic Arts, Google and NVIDIA; Sequoia Capital Partner Jim Goetz will join the board.  The round also included Michael Dearing, an eBay veteran and associate professor at the Stanford University Institute of Design, Jeff Fluhr, co-founder and former CEO of StubHub, and Omar Hamoui, founder of AdMob.  

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The company, which helped pioneer the movement of social games to the mobile platform in 2009, plans to use the funding to expand its engineering team and to continue to drive the evolution of mobile entertainment. Mobile games have emerged as a killer app for millions of smartphone users.  Juniper Research forecasts the mobile gaming market will nearly double from $6 billion in 2009 to $11 billion in 2015, with much of the market expansion expected to come from virtual goods purchases.

Recognizing early on the potential of social gaming on the mobile platform, Daniel Terry (CEO) and Harlan Crystal (CTO) founded Pocket Gems in 2009 while Daniel was still an MBA student at Stanford University. Later that year, Pocket Gems launched its first game, Tap Farm, for the iPhone.  The game was an instant hit with a wide range of audiences and the company achieved profitability within weeks after launch. Pocket Gems went on to release four more titles – Tap Store, Tap Jungle, Tap Zoo and Tap Zoo Christmas – all of which, like Tap Farm, quickly reached the top 10 free apps list in Apple's App Store.  

All Pocket Gems games are free-to-play and have generated millions of dollars in revenue from the sale of virtual goods.  Tap Zoo has consistently ranked as one of the highest grossing apps since its launch in September and has been joined on that chart by recently released Tap Zoo Christmas, rare feats for free-to-play products.

"The App Store ecosystem has democratized mobile game development.  It gave us an opportunity to build a new type of mobile experience and put it in front of millions of people," said Daniel Terry, Pocket Gems CEO and Co-Founder.  "With so many developers turning to this platform, the space is evolving very quickly, and we're excited to be part of defining what the next generation of entertainment will look like."

"Just as desktop computing was replaced by web-based computing, the paradigm is now shifting to mobile," said Harlan Crystal, Pocket Gems CTO and Co-Founder.  "Our engineering team is on the forefront of this evolution, tackling the unique technical challenges of the platform to bring the best products to market.  We began as entrepreneurial developers and have maintained that environment by giving our team the freedom and creative space they need to continue building experiences that customers fall in love with."

"We believe the transformation taking place on top of the iOS and Android mobile platforms has spawned an ecosystem in which passionate entrepreneurs like Daniel and Harlan can disrupt traditional incumbents," said Jim Goetz, Sequoia Capital Partner and Pocket Gems Board Member.  "The market opportunity for mobile games is going to be significant, and we are excited that Pocket Gems is building a world class team to capture it."

About Sequoia Capital

Sequoia Capital provides venture capital funding to founders of startups who want to turn business ideas into enduring companies.  As the "Entrepreneurs Behind the Entrepreneurs," Sequoia Capital's Partners have worked with innovators such as Steve Jobs of Apple Computer, Larry Ellison of Oracle, Bob Swanson of Linear Technology, Sandy Lerner and Len Bozack of Cisco Systems, Dan Warmenhoven of NetApp, Jerry Yang and David Filo of Yahoo!, Jen-Hsun Huang of NVIDIA, Michael Marks of Flextronics, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen of YouTube, Dominic Orr and Keerti Melkote of Aruba Networks, Jonathan Kaplan of Pure Digital, Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Omar Hamoui of AdMob and Steve Streit of Green Dot.  To learn more about Sequoia Capital, visit: www.sequoiacap.com/us/mobile.

About Pocket Gems

Pocket Gems, a pioneer of the movement of social games to mobile, developed a series of phenomenally successful free-to-play mobile games that have been downloaded more than 15 million times.  The company has five titles to-date – Tap Farm, Tap Store, Tap Jungle, Tap Zoo and Tap Zoo Christmas – all of which have been instant hits, each landing at the top of the App Store charts. Pocket Gems was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in San Francisco.  For more information, visit: www.pocketgems.com.

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Amber Rowland


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SOURCE Pocket Gems