Wazap is a search engine company focused exclusively on games, and is growing quickly — as you may expect, given the popularity of games.
It’s another of those ideas that seems so obvious in hindsight, you’re left wondering why it hasn’t been done before. It boasts 11 million unique users a month, with 200 million page views. It logged $1 million in revenue last year, it says.
It has just raised $7.9 million in a second round of funding led by Partech International, with participation from Wellington Partners. Wellington led the first round financing of almost $4 million. Wazap’s roots are in Japan and Germany, where it has launched sites. It has launched in China, and launches in the U.S. next month.
It provides search results for games you’re searching (see screenshot of a search for “World of Warcraft” at the German site below). The left arrows point to how similar it looks to Google: sponsored results at the top, and regular results below that. The right arrow points the right hand column, which has things like “related games.”
Wazap also provides news articles, and tips and tricks about how to play games — for example, a video clip demonstrating how a gamer is able to slay a particular dragon.
The company first launched in game-crazy Japan in 2004. Traffic on the Japan site is far ahead of the German site, in part because the Japanese site let users participate in forums early on.
Co-founders Andreas RÃ¼hrig, 29 and Timo Meyer, 28 have formed two gaming companies before, including Games.de, and sold them for a combined $60 million euros. They’ve brought much of their Games.de team with them to launch Wazap. They’ve hired Thom Kozik, who formerly ran Yahoo Games (which also has a video game search engine), to launch the U.S. version. Kozik is based in Los Angeles.
The company is negotiating deals with portals, such as Germany’s Web.de, to provide search for their games pages, in return for a cut in the ad revenue. Wazap hopes eventually to negotiate rights to operate the entire games pages of large portals — arguing that it will have the large userbase to make those sites more popular.
Wazap is also introducing a specialized site, ezoom, dedicated to the needs of hardcore gamers — such as those who spend hours on World of Warcraft. This will have a tab from the home page.
Notably, the Japan site is getting more traffic from mobile phones than it is from PCs, the company says.
VB's research team is studying web-personalization... Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.