On the heels of Summit Partners and TA Associates' recent $350 million investment
in online game developer-publisher Bigpoint, Gamasutra spoke to the company's CEO, Heiko Hubertz, for specifics of the deal.
The stake purchased by Summit and TA was originally invested about two and a half years ago by Comcast Interactive Capital's Peacock Equity Fund and London-based GMT Communications Partners. Between the two of them, they owned 70 percent of the company -- and at the time the sale of their controlling stake was announced, the firms said they saw an "excellent return" on their investment.
Hubertz tells Gamasutra that the new deal has numerous implications beyond simply recapitalizing Bigpoint. "We're very proud of the valuation we got, especially as a European-headquartered company," he says. "We're now one of the most valuable online gaming companies in Europe."
The terms of the sale appear pleasant on all sides; Hubertz says Bigpoint was "very happy" having worked with Peacock and GMT -- Peacock provided the European firm with key introductions to its NBC and Universal partners, leading Bigpoint to launch properties based on their properties including Battlestar Galactica
and The Mummy
Hubertz tells us that the positive relationship with NBC Universal and its properties remains intact, and that the stake sale won't affect Bigpoint's work on any of those IP.
"We continue to partner with Universal -- we continue looking at new IPs to do with them," says Hubertz. "They are very happy with the partnership and we are very happy with them, so that isn't affected by this."
Now, however, the company has a stakeholder that will continue to support what Hubertz describes as a plan for "aggressive" growth.
"They really believe in our strategy for the next few years," he says. "And they will support us -- especially if Bigpoint were to grow through acquisitions, we have strong financial partners who will support us with that strategy."
Acquisitions are more a "when" than an "if" at this stage, Hubertz notes: "It's definitely part of our strategy," he explains. "We don't have specific targets in mind, but we would like to do some acquisitions in the mobile space, and if we enter some new territories that definitely makes sense. TA and Summit are very supportive of that strategy, and this is the right way to do it."
A main benefit of the stake's transfer of ownership is it effectively buys Bigpoint more time to grow, Hubertz adds. Backers who make significant investments in growing companies generally hope to see returns quickly -- "now we have a fresh new investor in the company, and it gives us more time to develop the company," he says.
"They're not looking for an exit; they are long-term investors, so we will be able to build the company over the coming years. So there's not that pressure... we really can build high-quality games, we can enter new territories and new markets, and that's good to have new investors onboard who have a long-term strategy with the company," Hubertz says. "That gives us a lot of confidence."
Finally, on the reported $600 million valuation for Bigpoint that made the rounds of financial press outlets? "Yes, I can comment that this is the right number," Hubertz confirms.