All posts in “Software”

Consolidation is coming to gaming, and Jam City raises $145 million to capitalize on it

A slew of banks are coming together to back a new roll-up strategy for the Los Angeles-based mobile gaming studio Jam City and giving the company $145 million in new funding to carry that out.

There’s no word on whether the new money is in equity or debt, but what is certain is that JPMorgan Chase Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and syndicate partners, including Silicon Valley Bank, SunTrust Bank and CIT Bank, are all involved in the deal.

“In a global mobile games market that is consolidating, Jam City could not be more proud to be working with JPMorgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Silicon Valley Bank, SunTrust Bank and CIT Group to strategically support the financing of our acquisition and growth plans,” said Chris DeWolfe, co-founder and CEO of Jam City. “This $145 million in new financing empowers Jam City to further our position as a global industry consolidator. As we grow our global business, we are honored to be working alongside such prestigious advisers who share Jam City’s mission of delivering joy to people everywhere through unique and deeply engaging mobile games.”

The new money comes after a few years of speculation on whether Jam City would be the next big Los Angeles-based startup company to file for an initial public offering. It also follows a new agreement with Disney to develop mobile games based on intellectual property coming from all corners of the mouse house — a sweet cache of intellectual property ranging from Pixar, to Marvel, to traditional Disney characters.

Jam City is coming off a strong year of company growth. The Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery game, which launched last year, became the company’s fastest title to hit $100 million in revenue.

Add that to the company’s expansion into new markets with strategic acquisitions to fuel development and growth in Toronto and Bogota and it’s clear that the company is looking to make more moves in 2019.

Jam City already holds intellectual property for a new game built on Disney’s “Frozen 2,” the company’s newly acquired Fox Studio assets like “Family Guy” and the Harry Potter property. Add that to its own Cookie Jam and Panda Pop properties and it seems like the company is ready to make moves.

Meanwhile, games are quickly becoming the go-to revenue driver for the entertainment industry. According to data collected by Newzoo, mobile games revenue reached a record $63.2 billion worldwide in 2018, representing roughly 47 percent of the total revenue for the gaming industry in the year. That number could reach $81.3 billion by 2020, the Newzoo data suggests.

Roughly half of the U.S. plays mobile games, and they’re spending significant dollars on those games in app stores. App Annie suggests that roughly 75 percent of the money spent in app stores over the past decade has been spent on mobile games. And consumers are expected to spend roughly $129 billion in app stores over the next year. The data and analytics firm suggests that mobile gaming will capture some 60 percent of the overall gaming market in 2019, as well.

All of that bodes well for the industry as a whole, and points to why Jam City is looking to consolidate. And the company isn’t the only mobile games studio making moves.

The publicly traded games studio Zynga, which rose to fame initially on the back of Facebook’s gaming platform, recently expanded its European footprint with the late-December acquisition of the Helsinki-based gaming studio Small Giant Games.

A photo of an egg has toppled reality star Kylie Jenner as Instagram’s most-liked post

Instagram has found something it likes more than a Kardashian-Jenner family baby, and it’s an egg.

This weekend, a photo of a plain egg became the most-liked photo on Instagram, the social app owned by Facebook with more than one billion users that’s reflective of internet culture.

The photo, which you can see below in its full glory, currently had more than 23 million likes at the time of writing. That has seen it surpass a February 18 photo from Kylie Jenner — the sister of Kim Kardashian and a reality TV star in her own right — which announced the birth of her baby with rapper Travis Scott and has 18.2 million likes.

Unlike Jenner, who has 21 million Instagram followers, the egg account — “world_record_egg” — is a newcomer that seems to have been created in early January. Nothing is known of its ownership, although it had 2.4 million followers at the time of writing, which could — and I can’t believe I’m writing this… — make it an influencer account.

While much can be said about Jenner’s rise to fame, she’s a pretty successful entrepreneur. Her two-year-old “Kylie Cosmetics” brand is estimated to gross over $600 million in annual revenue. While it is funny that a photo of an egg can take the record on Instagram, there might be more to it. Jenner’s company trades on her brand, the egg could be a rejection or protest of today’s reality TV culture… which is best embodied by the Kardashians and, in particular, Kylie Jenner. That certainly seems the case looking at the splurge in new and egg-related comments on Jenner’s birth post from last year.

Maybe that’s wishful thinking and this is just another internet phenomenon that can’t be explained. It could simply be a joke that blew up, but don’t discount the potential that this is a stunt from a company launching a new product or wanting to make a splash.

Showing that she might have a sense of humor, 21-year-old Jenner acknowledged the new record in a video of her smashing an egg.

This is the second social media record set this year after Twitter got a new most-retweeted tweet — however, the roles were very much different.

Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire who is paying Elon Musk’s SpaceX for a trip to the moon, saw a tweet that offered nearly $1 million in prize money for retweets surpass a true internet phenomenon, U.S. teen Carter Wilkerson. Back in April 2017, Wilkerson took to Twitter to plead for free chicken nuggets; his original tweet now has around 3.6 million retweets.

Put Alexa and a JBL speaker in your ceiling with this clever LED downlight

This light makes the smarthome even more accessible. Installed as any other ceiling downlight,the June AI downlight features Amazon Alexa through an integrated JBL speakers. There’s a light in there too.

The idea is great: make the smarthome invisible. Instead of having an Amazon Echo sitting on a table, this device sits in a person’s ceiling doing the job of a normal light. But when called upon, it can play music, control devices or anything else possible with an Echo.

“This integration of technologies easily and affordably converts any house into a functional, seamless smart home,” says Jeff Spencer, Acuity Brands Lighting Vice President and General Manager Residential, in a released statement. “Being located in the ceiling creates a unique advantage enabling Juno AI to deliver not only intelligence through simple voice commands, but also exceptional lighting and sound.”

Devices like this will continue to appear as Amazon and Google expand their reach by working with more developers and hardware makers. At this point, both companies are seemingly interested in licensing their services than selling their own devices.

Scratch 3.0 is now available

The only kids programming language worth using, Scratch, just celebrated the launch of Scratch 3.0, an update that adds some interesting new functionality to the powerful open source tool.

Scratch, for those without school aged children, is a block-based programming language that lets you make little games and “cartoons” with sprites and animated figures. The system is surprisingly complex and kids have created things like Minecraft platformers, fun arcade games, and whatever this is.

The new version of scratch includes extensions that allow you to control hardware as well as new control blocks.

Scratch 3.0 is the next generation of Scratch – designed to expand how, what, and where you can create with Scratch. It includes dozens of new sprites, a totally new sound editor, and many new programming blocks. And with Scratch 3.0, you are able to create and play projects on your tablet, in addition to your laptop or desk computer.

Scratch is quite literally the only programming “game” my kids will use again and again and it’s an amazing introduction for kids as young as pre-school age. Check out the update and don’t forget to share your animations with the class!

See you in Vegas next week!

It’s on like Donkey Kong! We’ll be seeing you next week on January 9, 2019 at 6:00 PM where we’ll mingle and run a full TC pitchoff with a bunch of great hardware companies. I’ve added 40 extra tickets so hurry!

The event will be held at Work In Progress, 317 South 6th Street. Special thanks to those amazing folks who opened their doors to us during one of the busiest weeks in LV.

I’ve contacted the companies that will be pitching via email. If anyone drops out, I’ll choose some more so there is still a chance to pitch.

Very special thanks go out to Shenzhen Valley Ventures, a hardware-focused venture capital firm for engineers, by engineers. They will be on hand to talk about their firm and would love to hear your pitches… and they are paying for the beer and pizza!

See you soon!