GamesBeat

Akoha to build cause-related social games, raises $1.9 million

Game start-up Akoha has just joined the frey of companies trying to make a living in the online social game market. But cofounder Austin Hill says Akoha’s about more than just game playing; it’s about social change. The company motto says it all: “Play it Forward.”

Akoha has yet to launch its first game, but its idea seems to be resonating with angel investors, who’ve put in $1.9 million.

Akoha is based in Montreal, Canada and has a crew of 14 people that includes Hill and his colleague from a former company, Alex Eberts. The company raised the round in two tranches, one in early 2007 and another earlier this year. It is revealing itself for the first time today.

Hill was previously the founder of Zero Knowledge Systems, an Internet security and privacy company that raised $70 million and changed its name to Radialpoint in 2002.  He was also a founder of Internet service provider Total.Net in 1994. After he left Zero Knowledge, he became involved in a series of causes related to privacy and technologies for social change.

Hill says that Akoha is developing a new type of social game inspired by his experience in social entrepreneurship. It will also tap lessons from massively multiplayer online games and reality-based games.

“It is a game for the rest of us, not hardcore gamers,” he said. “We are going for a broad demographic and want to produce an emotional experience.”

And while the game will focus on social change, it will primarily be about having fun.

Investors include David Chamandy of Lavalife; film producer Jake Eberts; John Meeks, managing partner of TA Associates; Montreal Start Up, an angel investment fund; and  Alan Gershenfeld, a managing partner of E-Line Ventures and a director of the nonprofit Games for Change. Other investors are listed here.

Akoha is not disclosing its game until it is closer to release in the fall of 2008. Hill said he got the idea for it partly from discussions at the TED conference in Monterey where the theme was “Ideas Big Enough to Change the World.” Hill keeps a blog, where he told the story of his last company.


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