Big Fish Games Adds a Big Fish, Angel Investor and Web Veteran Geoff Entress, to Its Board

2/1/11Follow @gthuang

The Seattle tech scene is getting tighter and more connected every day. Big Fish Games, the casual games developer and publisher, said today that Geoff Entress, the Seattle-area angel investor and venture partner with Voyager Capital, has joined the firm’s board of directors. He’s not an investor in Big Fish, but, as is typical with such board appointments, he is receiving shares of the company as compensation.

The move makes business sense, as Entress has experience with gaming companies as well as other consumer-focused and Web entertainment startups. He was an early investor in Cheezburger Network, the Internet company that raised $30 million in venture capital a couple weeks ago, and he has been an investor in Sandlot Games. All told, Entress is invested in some 40 companies, mostly in the Northwest. Last year he added about 10, including Bonanza and Sparkbuy, to his portfolio. One of his focus areas is mobile software—he’s an investor in Dashwire, Swype, and a number of other mobile startups in the Seattle area. That experience is a strategic coup for Big Fish, which has been planning to expand its mobile game offerings.

“Mobile is a major growth opportunity,” Entress says. “That’s something I can help with.” He adds that his experience with other consumer Web businesses will be helpful too, and that he hopes his new board position will “enable me to grow personally and be part of something beneficial to the Seattle community.”

As usual, there’s also a personal connection behind the business news. Entress first got to know Big Fish Games CEO Jeremy Lewis when the latter lived on Bainbridge Island (where Entress still resides). The two became friends, and last year, after discussing who might make a good addition to the Big Fish board, Lewis approached Entress about the position. Entress was happy to do it, saying he has “admired the growth of the company.”

Big Fish raised an $83.3 million financing round back in 2008, led by Balderton Capital. The company has been the subject of IPO rumors for some time, but Entress declined to comment on that. One interesting strategic point: Big Fish so far has largely resisted the pull of social games—those played over social networks like Facebook—and has stuck to its core strategy of developing and distributing casual games on its Web portal. There’s still a question of whether the business of social gaming is sustainable, Entress says. “Will social games really replace hardcore, console, or casual games, which are very established? I don’t know—I don’t think so,” he says.

I wrote a profile of Entress and his investments in May of last year. He still works part-time at Founder’s Co-op, the Seattle-based seed-stage investment fund and mentoring program, in addition to his duties with Voyager Capital and various company boards. In the past half year, he says, “I got a lot more busy than I expected.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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