PlayHaven Grabs Google AdMob’s Mobile Cowboy Yim As COO

PlayHaven, the gaming service provider that helps studios monetize their players better, just grabbed Google AdMob’s Charles Yim as COO.

He’ll oversee the company’s international expansion, developer relations and business development. He had a similar role at Google where he managed the ad network’s key relationships with the biggest game developers like Rovio. He joined AdMob on the business development team before the company was acquired for $750 million by Google in 2010. (“Mobile cowboy” is a nickname he got at SXSW a few years ago for wearing cowboy hats and boots all the time.)

PlayHaven is a company that’s had nine lives, I mean, pivots. It started as a gamer’s social network that transitioned into making communities for mobile games. Now it focuses on maximizing lifetime revenue from players for developers.

It launched a product last year, that implemented an HTML5 layer inside games so developers could automatically swap in and out promotions based on a player’s history or demographics. A “whale” that spends a lot would be shown different adverts than a player who advances in a game without spending anything.

That helped the company rack up 4,000 developers on its platform, close an $8 million round of funding in November and grow to about 60 employees. Yim had advised the company through this evolution.

“I’ve known the CEO Andy Yang personally and watched the development of the company,” said Yim. “They’ve identified product-market fit, they’re ready to scale and I’ve to come help them out.”

PlayHaven’s business has two prongs — an in-app advertising network that reaches about 100 million monthly uniques and a platform of revenue maximization tools. Those tools segment out users based on their spending habits, and help developers understand which ads or promotions to show them.

“If you look at the tools in this industry today, it reflects the maturity of this ecosystem,” he said. “We no longer just slapping ads on top of games without much thought about what’s the best point in the game to show an ad, who are the appropriate users to show an ad to or not show an ad to.”

They face dozens of competitors that overlap slightly (though not totally) with their mission. Big service providers like Flurry and Tapjoy help developers acquire users, but they’re not necessarily primarily focused on maximizing engagement or retention. Chartboost is another competitor that recently raised $19 million from Sequoia Capital.

Yim also has a venture partner role at, which is a global fund that rebranded from the name BV Capital earlier this year. is an investor in PlayHaven and Yim says his operational role is his full-time job.

“You could call my venture partner role a hobby,” he said. “Since they’re an investor in the company, there’s no conflict of interest from this perspective.”