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Crime City

Exclusive – Crime (City) Pays: Social Gaming Startup Funzio Raises $20 Million

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San Francisco-based social gaming outfit Funzio has raised $20 million in its first round of institutional funding, TechCrunch has learned. The Series A financing round was led by IDG Ventures and China-focused investment firm IDG Capital Partners.

Rick Thompson, co-founder and former chairman of Playdom, also participated in the round and serves as chairman of Funzio’s board.

Phil Sanderson, managing director of IDG Ventures, will join the company’s board.

Funzio develops games for Facebook and a variety of mobile platforms. They are, of course, hardly the only ones actively trying to get a piece of the ever-expanding social and mobile gaming pie, but they’re not exactly amateurs either.

Funzio launched its first Facebook game, Crime City, in September 2010, and it swiftly became one of the top five Facebook games of the year. Today, the game has more than 750,000 daily active users and more than 7.5 million monthly players.

The game has garnered over 200,000 reviews, and its ratings are through the roof (it’s the only Facebook game with more than 600,000 daily players that has a rating of 4.9/5).

Crime City will be made available for iOS and Android devices later this year.

Building on the foundation laid by the success of Crime City, Funzio plans to use the $20 million in funding to triple its team this year and scale its business so that it can launch new games faster and develop them in parallel.

Notably, Funzio was founded by a group of experienced gaming industry professionals.

Chief executive officer Ken Chiu previously co-founded and led Storm8 (also known as Team Lava), and served as GM at Zynga, where he headed up the XWars Studio. He joined Zynga as part of the acquisition of his Facebook application, My Heroes Ability. Before that endeavor, he was a senior software engineer at eBay.

Another co-founder is Anil Dharni, who previously oversaw Storm8′s business operations. Before that, he was the VP of Products at hi5 Networks and has previously served in product management roles at Yahoo. He is Funzio’s president and COO.

Finally, Funzio co-founder and CTO Ram Gudavalli was formerly VP of Engineering at hi5, the social entertainment company he originally joined in 2004.