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Bionic Panda raises seed funding for Android mobile games

Bionic Panda Games has raised seed financing to develop mobile games for Google’s Android operating system, the company announced today. Not surprisingly, Google Ventures is one of the backers.

San Francisco-based Bionic Panda got its start in 2010 and has so far had one hit with Aqua Pets (pictured above), which has been downloaded more than 3 million times and is a top-100 grossing application on the Android Market.

That strong performance allowed it to raise the round (it was raised last year and is being announced for the first time today) from Google Ventures, SoftTech VC (where Hudson is a partner), Norwest Venture Partners, 500 Startups, and angels Craig Sherman and Kal Vepuri. That’s a pretty strong group of investors, but Bionic Panda’s founders, game veterans Charles Hudson and Mike Jimenez, have a good pedigree.

Hudson ran a number of well-known industry conferences such as the Social Gaming Summit, and he and Jimenez previously worked together at Serious Business, maker of Friends for Sale. Zynga acquired that company for an undisclosed price in February 2010. And Hudson sold his events business to Mediabistro.

Hudson, a venture partner at SoftTech VC, is the CEO. He also previously worked at Google, Gaia Online, IronPort Systems and In-Q-Tel. Jimenez is the chief technology officer and previously worked at Cybersource and BitTorrent.

“There’s a huge opportunity here,” said Hudson in an interview. “We are seeing a ton of enthusiasm on the investing side for most things mobile. We are seeing a seismic shift where the apps, the networks, and devices are all good enough for real entertainment. It has taken off much faster than many predicted.”

Hudson said the company has a couple of projects in the works. Aqua Pets is a free-to-play Android game. Users download it for free but then pay real money for virtual items such as fish food.

“There are tremendous opportunities to build mobile game franchises on the Android platform,” said Joe Kraus, a partner at Google Ventures. “Bionic Panda is an early leader on the Android platform, and we are excited to work with their team as they pursue their passion for developing the next generation of casual mobile social games.”

Bionic Panda has about 12 employees, but it plans to get bigger.

” A lot of companies will build a big business on the back of mobile gaming,” Hudson said.


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