Austin's GameWager Gets Money and Maturity

Updated: GameWager, an Austin, Texas-based startup creating a network where gamers can back their trash talk with bets based on tokens, has completed a Series A round for a bit less than the $3 million it was seeking. It has also convinced adviser Nolan Bushnell to take an active role at the company.

CEO and co-founder Thomas Marriott gave me a quick update on GameWager earlier this week. He said Bushnell, the founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, has decided to move from an advisory role at GameWager to…something more. Marriott says he cannot disclose the position yet as Bushnell is still extricating himself from committed to his restaurant concept uWink. Calls to uWink were not returned.

GameWager allows players of PC games to keep track of their stats across a multitude of games, and wager against other players using tokens. The tokens can be exchanged for prizes put up by sponsors. After opening in July, the site currently has 10,000 registered users, with 90 percent of them logging on once every five days. It also has loaded its software, which logs activity and tracks information about a gamer, onto 95 percent of the severs that support PC games.

That’s nothing compared with Facebook’s 140 million, and I’m not sure GameWager will convince the 5 percent or 10 percent of users Marriott hopes will pay $4 a month to subscribe to the service. He also plans to make money selling sponsored games and by exchanging premium memberships for lead generation.

Marriott does have has one thing about being an entrepreneur nailed: He’s cheap. Not frugal, which means he might share a hotel room with his co-founder on business travels, but cheap as in he buys an air mattress from Wal-Mart and uses it to bunk at friends’ homes before returning it. That and a salary of less than $17,000 a year for he and his co-founder keep the burn rate low.

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