Former MySpace (NYSE: NWS) CEO Chris DeWolfe — who left MySpace last April — is back in the social media space via the acquisition of social games portal MindJolt. DeWolfe is partnering with fellow MySpace co-founders Colin Digiaro and Aber Whitcomb, along with VC firm Austin Ventures, to buy the company. He’ll also join as CEO. There had been rumors for more than a week now that DeWolfe was about to make a social gaming play.
Developers can submit their games and have them appear on MindJolt.com, as well as on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5 and Orkut via MindJolt apps. Resulting ad revenue is split. MindJolt claims it reaches 20 million monthly active users. The company’s pitch to developers: “Leave the difficulties of integrating with each of the social networks up to us, so you can concentrate on the actual games themselves.”
The new owners say that they will expand the company by introducing MindJolt to additional websites and smartphone platforms. They also promise to increase monetization “through major brand partnerships and virtual good offerings.”
Digiaro, who had been the former head of monetization at MySpace, will be COO, while Whitcomb, who was MySpace’s CTO, will be CTO. MindJolt founder Richard Fields will stay on as head of product strategy. No financial details have been released, although TechCrunch says Austin Ventures has put more than $20 million into the company.
Here’s the release:
MYSPACE FOUNDERS PARTNER WITH AUSTIN VENTURES TO ACQUIRE MINDJOLT
Social Web Pioneers Building MindJolt Into Next Generation Platform for Game Developers
SAN FRANCISCO — March 3, 2010 — MySpace Founders Chris DeWolfe, Colin Digiaro, and Aber Whitcomb today announced a partnership with Austin Ventures, to acquire MindJolt, one of the fastest growing online social gaming platforms. With more than 20 million monthly active unique users on Facebook, MindJolt.com and other social sites, the company aggregates 1,300 of the best casual games on the Web from developers worldwide.
Building on MindJolt’s expansive online footprint, the new team will extend the platform by focusing on three major initiatives including: (1) increased monetization through major brand partnerships and virtual good offerings, (2) expanding MindJolt’s global presence to all relevant websites and smart phone platforms, and (3) working closer with game developers to create tools for single player and multiplayer social games.
“MindJolt has quickly become an “onramp” to the Internet for the world’s independent game developers,” said Chris DeWolfe, CEO of MindJolt and former CEO of MySpace. “We’re building out the company to become the next generation platform for game developers. Our goal is to make it even easier for developers to get their games noticed and make more money from their work. At the same time we will deliver the most social and viral gaming experiences to our millions of users everywhere”
With over 20 million monthly active users across the Web, MindJolt provides game developers of any size a way to monetize their games, access to massive distribution on the world’s most popular social platforms, and creates viral game play by injecting unique social layers into the casual and social game experience. More than 1,000 game developers use the company’s application to reach audiences across the world’s most popular social platforms. The sheer number of game players on MindJolt levels the playing field for indie game developers by giving them access to an engaged, highly social audience.
“We’ve always backed great management teams and great companies,” said Chris Pacitti, General Partner of Austin Ventures. “A partnership with the MySpace founders is a rare opportunity and MindJolt is a company with the right scale, momentum, and market position to succeed. We’re thrilled to be a partner on this deal.”
Based in San Francisco, MindJolt’s executive team includes Chief Executive Officer Chris DeWolfe (co-founder and former CEO of MySpace), Chief Operating Officer Colin Digiaro (MySpace’s former head of Monetization and co-founder of SlingShot Labs), Chief Technology Officer Aber Whitcomb (MySpace’s former Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of MySpace), SVP of Business and Corporate Development Josh Yguado (Former VP of Business Development at Fox Networks Group), and Richard Fields, the founder of MindJolt and head of product strategy.
“Independent game developers have always been the lifeblood of MindJolt. We’ve done a great job of connecting with the independent casual game community and we’re looking to expand our efforts to social game developers as well.” said Richard Fields, Founder of MindJolt. “The new MindJolt team is united on its vision to empower game developers of every size to build their businesses. We now have the resources to extend our product vision and build what they’re asking us for.”