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PlayFirst Picks Up $9.2M, Appoints Social Games VP

Casual games publisher PlayFirst has secured $9.2 million to fund its push into mobile and social games, and has promoted chief marketing officer Eric Hartness to Social Games vice president and general manager.
Casual games publisher PlayFirst has secured $9.2 million to fund its push into mobile and social games, and has promoted chief marketing officer Eric Hartness to Social Games vice president and general manager. $5.2 million of the company's new cash comes from existing investors, such as Mayfield Fund, Trinity Partners, DCM, and Rustic Canyon Ventures, while the remaining $4 million represents debt financing made available by Comerica Bank. PlayFirst notes that during its expansion into the mobile and social spaces in the past year, its Facebook game Chocolatier: Sweet Society gained more than 800,000 monthly active users -- the brand has a total audience of more than 40 million players around the world and across multiple platforms. Its "Dash" franchise has secured three spots in the App Store's top 100 grossing games list with Diner Dash, Cooking Dash, and Wedding Dash. Those three iOS games have received over 100 million play sessions in 2010, while the entire Diner Dash series has seen over 500 million downloads. "This financing enables us to keep our focus on the opportunities in the mobile and social gaming sectors and provides the flexibility to quickly respond to changes and opportunities as the market continues to shift rapidly," says PlayFirst president and CEO Mari Baker. Baker adds, "With this capital, we will continue to aggressively optimize the PlayFirst brands that consumers love, like Diner Dash, to social and mobile platforms and look for growth through partnerships and potential acquisitions." Hartness' promotion will aid the firm's social gaming plans, as his responsibilities include overseeing the overall strategy, execution, and results for PlayFirst's efforts in that field. Before joining the company, he was chief marketing officer at PlaySpan and marketing VP at Electronic Arts' Redwood Shores studio. With this appointment, the publisher also added several members to its staff: former Loomia/Nokia architect Matt Levy, Playdom senior product manager Lars Berg, Playdom/Zynga senior product manager Roxanne Gilbert, Playdom/Zynga senior game designer Ray Holmes, and Zynga lead engineer Vamsi Prakhya -- all will assume similar roles at Playfirst.

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