Former Rovio Execs Raise $2.35M For Seriously, A New Casual Gaming Studio

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Seriously, a new gaming startup from the execs who oversaw Angry Birds-maker Rovio’s game slate and licensing business, just picked up $2.35 million in seed funding. Leading the round are Los Angeles’ Upfront Ventures (the firm formerly known GRP) and Denmark’s Sunstone Capital.

The round befits the company’s cross-continental nature. One co-founder, Petri Järvilehto, is based in Helsinki and heads game development. He was Rovio’s executive vice president of games and has about two decades of history in the gaming industry, taking the lead on iconic franchises like Remedy’s Max Payne.

The other co-founder Andrew Stalbow, meanwhile, is based in Los Angeles and has deep ties to the entertainment industry there. He was Rovio’s executive vice president of strategic partnerships after serving as the senior vice president of mobile for Fox Digital Entertainment.

“We see Helsinki as the mobile gaming capital of the world and think that’s a great place to build a studio,” Stalbow said. “Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world and the traditional business here is challenged quite a bit.”

The company’s business plan feels a bit familiar — they plan to build casual games and leverage them to build more durable entertainment and media brands. That has been more or less what Rovio is trying to do with the Angry Birds franchise.

“We see what Marvel was able to do with comics in the 1950s and 60s, and what Disney was able to do with cartoons in the 1930s,” Stalbow said. “We think it’s a great time for content creators.”

He said the company is looking to build what he calls “casual plus” games, even as the rest of the market moves more mid-core with companies like Supercell, Kabam and Kixeye leading the way.

He said the company is going to announce its initial hires shortly and start launching games next year.

“Whether it’s a hit from the start or takes a little bit longer, we’re prepared to do what it takes,” Stalbow said. “It’s going to be fun.”