Ann Arbor’s BodegaBid Bets There’s Real Profit in Virtual Currency

Mark Sendo of Ann Arbor, MI, is not into reality. Oh, the founder and CEO of BodegaBid says he briefly tried reality last spring, when his company partnered with a Seattle startup called Beer2Buds and let holders of virtual cash buy their friends a beer in the real world.

But the three-year-old BodegaBid ended that partnership, Sendo says. It’s not that reality wasn’t working out. It’s just that Sendo wanted to clearly define BodegaBid’s niche, and right now it’s all virtual.

“The problem is that it’s off our focus,” Sendo says of his six-person startup’s brief foray into exchanging virtual cash for real beer. “We know what we want to do and we just need to focus on signing game developers and building a marketplace that creates liquidity.”

So, BodegaBid is sticking to trading in virtual goods, enabling social gamers who earn virtual currency in one game to spend it in other games, or to trade virtual goods—like, say, a tractor in FarmVille—for currency that is accepted in other games.

In FarmVille, for example, says Sendo, people spend a lot of time building farms, nurturing crops, watering gardens, and when they’re done in that game…well, they’re done.

“All that time they’ve spent in developing, and money, is wasted,” Sendo says. “So, basically, what we do is we facilitate the transfer of virtual goods from one user to another in a marketplace.”

The thing is, game developers have to agree to participate in Bodega’s virtual currency program. So far, Bodega has signed on Ayogo, a Vancouver, Canada-based game developer, and China-based Memoriki. Ayogo has a game called “City of Ash” for the iPhone and iPod Touch. All of Ayogo’s virtual items can be traded in for “Bodega Credits” on Facebook. Memoriki has a Facebook game called Happy … Next Page »

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