hi5, a gaming-focused social network that most people forgot about long ago, has just closed a new round of funding of over $14 million led by Crosslink Capital. This brings the social network’s funding to over $34 million. This round appears to also include the $3 million in debt funding raised from Mohr Davidow in April.
The new funding will be used for hi5′s continued expansion into social gaming and virtual goods. Hi5, which has been actively remodeling its site to cater to the gaming industry, just bought gaming startup Big Six. Last fall, the social network launched a totally revamped site that places a much stronger emphasis on games and virtual currency, along with a new avatar system.
In December, hi5 brought on a new president, gaming industry veteran, Alex St. John, to help lead the social network’s efforts. Earlier in the year, the company suffered from layoffs and also hired a new CEO, Bill Gossman.
The push into gaming isn’t a bad idea for hi5, which clearly cannot compete with Facebook. The network has only 60 million members compared to Facebook’s 500 million users. But hi5 faces a number of fast-growing and heavily funded competitors in the social gaming space, including Zynga and Playdom.
Founded in 2003, hi5 today is one of the largest social entertainment sites in the world, with approximately 50 million monthly unique visitors who use the site to stay connected to friends, meet new people, share photos, and play games. Available in over 50 languages, hi5 combines ad-supported social networking features with payment-based premium content to deliver a user experience focused on self-expression and interactivity that appeals to the site’s young demographic (67% of users are age 18-34). Social games, virtual goods, and other premium content on...