PlayFirst continues push into social and mobile games with new hires; $9.2 million financing

PlayFirst has received a boost to its social and mobile game businesses to the tune of $9.2 million in financing, the company announced today. PlayFirst also announced that it has hired several new staff with backgrounds in social and mobile gaming.

“This financing enables us to keep our focus on the opportunities in the mobile and social gaming sectors and provides the flexibility to quickly respond to changes and opportunities as the market continues to shift rapidly,” said Mari Baker, president and chief executive of PlayFirst. “With this capital, we will continue to aggressively optimize the PlayFirst brands that consumers love, like Diner Dash, to social and mobile platforms and look for growth through partnerships and potential acquisitions.”

The $9.2 million in financing is comprised of of $5.2M of venture capital from existing investors including Mayfield Fund, Trinity Partners, DCM and Rustic Canyon Ventures, and $4.0 million in debt financing made available by Comerica Bank.

Over the past year, PlayFirst has expanded several of its core PC game franchises to social and mobile platforms. The company’s social game Chocolatier: Sweet Society, an extension of the Chocolatier PC game franchise, has more than 800,000 monthly active users on Facebook. On the mobile side, several of PlayFirst’s popular Dash games have seen releases on the iPhone and iPad including Diner Dash, Cooking Dash and Wedding Dash and the iPad launch title Diner Dash: Grilling Green.

New hires

PlayFirst also announced that Eric Hartness, most recently chief marketing officer at PlaySpan, has joined the PlayFirst management team as vice-president and general manager, social games. In this new role, Hartness assumes responsibility for the overall strategy, execution and results for PlayFirst’s growing social game business.

Prior to joining PlayFirst, Hartness served as Chief Marketing Officer at PlaySpan, leading PlaySpan’s Marketplace and Monetization-as-a-Service platform marketing efforts. Hartness joined PlaySpan after almost nine years with Electronic Arts where he was most recently vice president of marketing for its Redwood Shores studio and games including Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Simpsons Game, The Godfather, and Dead Space. Previously, Hartness led EA’s digital distribution and subscription businesses developing new online revenue streams and maximizing existing ones. Hartness holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

PlayFirst also announced the following staff additions:

  • Matt Levy joins PlayFirst as architect, social games from Loomia where he was Chief Architect developing personalization engines related to the web. Prior to Loomia, Levy spent over six years at Nokia largely working on the gaming platform, most recently as lead architect for the Games Community Platform where he architected the N-GAGE 2.0 platform and multiple subsequent releases of the N-GAGE SDK and Games Community Platform for multiple simultaneous devices and targets.
  • Lars Berg joined the company from Playdom as senior product manager; Roxanne Gibert joined as senior product manager from Playdom and Zynga; Ray Holmes joined as senior game designer from Playdom and Zynga, and Vamsi Prakhya joined as lead engineer from Zynga.

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