Big Fish Lands $83.3 Million Investment Round

9/12/08Follow @bbuderi

No sooner had Greg published his 45-company-long list of members of the Greater Seattle gaming cluster, than one of those companies—Big Fish Games—jumped out of the pool to grab the spotlight in a big (think $83.3 million) way. That was the whopping amount of new funding the Seattle company, founded in 2002 by Paul Thelen, announced today.

Big Fish, which had previously raised approximately $8 million from angel investors, landed all the new cash from lead investor Balderton Capital, which is based in London, along with General Catalyst Partners of Cambridge, MA, and Salmon River Capital of New York. (Better read another of Greg’s recent stories, about why Seattle entrepreneurs look to non-local VCs, only that piece focused on Bay Area investors, not those from the East Coast or abroad.) Big Fish, which publishes a range of casual and online games for PCs, consoles, and mobile devices—including Mystery Case Files, Azada, and Hidden Expedition—will use the new infusion to help accelerate its global expansion, according to a press release.

Brier Dudley at the Seattle Times has a nice writeup, in which he points out the financing is Washington’s largest VC deal of the year—and that Big Fish is already profitable behind some $50 million in annual revenues (to me, all this makes the new funding more like a private equity expansion capital deal than a typical VC round).

Paul Thelen, founder and chief strategy officer of Big Fish, gave a keynote talk in July at the Casual Connect gaming conference in Seattle. In his talk, Thelen shared survey results that showed, among other things, that even heavy-action core gamers will play casual games involving trivia, puzzles, and hidden-object searches, at least hinting at the even bigger market he foresees for Big Fish. “Continuing to categorize a gamer as only a core or casual player is limiting,” Thelen said in his talk.

If Big Fish can successfully use this new cash to reel in more customers and establish itself as a, well, bigger fish in the casual- and online-gaming ocean, there may be few limits to its growth.

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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