Hi5 Raises Over $14 Million For Social Games, Virtual Goods

Social network hi5 has picked up $14 million in a second round of funding, which it hopes to use to continue beefing up its offerings -- with a particular focus on gaming strategy, social play and virtual goods.
Social network hi5 has picked up $14 million in a second round of funding led by Crosslink Capital, which it will put toward accelerating its social gaming and virtual goods expansion plans. As part of the new venture capital financing, Crosslink Capital's general partner Jim Fueille will join hi5's board of directors. Mohr Davidow, who led the site's initial $20 million venture financing in July 2007, also participated in this new round. hi5 hopes to spend its new funding on further bulking up its social gaming and virtual goods offerings, which it introduced in December 2008 by launching its hi5 Coins virtual currency and a virtual gifts store. It also created a Games channel for the social network in February 2009 and its Stars animated avatars last October. The company has further emphasized its gaming strategy in recent months, hiring former WildTangent head and founder Alex St. John late last year, purchasing social games firm Big Six, partnering with PlaySpan for micropayments, and creating Facebook-compatible APIs that enable companies to port their Facebook titles to hi5. "hi5 is among the companies leading and defining the rapidly emerging social entertainment category, and this round will enable us to fully capitalize on what is already a massive market opportunity," says hi5 CEO Bill Gossman. He adds, "Crosslink has been at the forefront of this revolution with investments in Pandora and as well as successful public market experience with Omniture and, so we are thrilled to have Jim's expertise joining the company."

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