Google Ventures, the VC arm of the search giant, has made an investment in popular iPhone/iPad game developer ngmoco, say multiple sources. The company, which is already profitable, took the money as part of a new round of funding — probably in the $3-5 million range. ngmoco currently has some very popular games on iOS, including ‘We Farm’, which is currently the second most popular game on the iPad. The investment valued ngmoco well above $100 million, we’ve heard. This comes on top of a $25 million Series C round ngmoco closed in February.
This is not an investment being made by Google itself, which has been fleshing out its social gaming strategy with a $150 million investment in Zynga and acquisitions of Slide and social payments company Jambool. Rather, it’s being made by Google’s VC firm, which has repeatedly made it clear that it is a distinct entity from the search giant and that it doesn’t make strategic investments.
Still, it’s hard to take that entirely at face value — Google CEO Eric Schmidt previously said that companies that received funding from Google Ventures would have 20,000 Googlers there to help them. Don’t be surprised if we start seeing an abundance of Android games from ngmoco in the near future. And ngmoco has been a conspicuous underachiever on the Android platform to date. Expect that to change.
Android still has relatively few high quality games available and is ripe for a few more established developers to join the fray. But this could still prove to be a double-edged sword for ngmoco — Apple may not take kindly to having its enemy Google take a stake in one of the iPhone’s top developers.
It’s also worth pointing out that ngmoco competitor SGN, which has a number of popular titles on the iPhone including Skies of Glory, recently began offering some of its titles on Android. SGN closed a bridge round led by Eric Schmidt’s firm Tomorrow Ventures in June.
ngmoco (“Next Generation MObile COmpany”) is creating and producing games for the iPhone. CEO Neil Young is a former executive from Electronic Arts, where he oversaw the development of several hit titles. Another EA vet and partner at Kleiner Perkins, Bing Gordon, sits on the board. Kleiner is an investor through its iFund.
Google Ventures is the financially motivated venture capital arm of Google Inc., founded in 2009. Google Ventures invests in startups in industries including consumer Internet, software, hardware, clean-tech, bio-tech, health care and others. They aim to invest about $100 million a year, with deal sizes ranging from seed to late-stage investments of tens of millions of dollars, depending on the stage of the opportunity and the company’s need for capital. Google Ventures currently invests in the U.S. and has offices in...