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Kiip is announcing today that it has hired Zynga’s ad boss Manny Anekal as chief operating officer.
San Francisco-based Kiip is a fast-growing startup that offers real-world prizes as rewards in mobile games. Hiring Anekal from recently-public Zynga will add some cachet and some executive firepower for the company, which is headed by 20-year-old entrepreneur Brian Wong.
I can imagine that a lot of business people might not take a company with a 20-year-old CEO seriously. But Wong has built a track record for his company, launched numerous products, created several key partnerships, and has raised money. If the company needs some extra cred because Wong isn’t old enough or lacks experience, then Anekal can bring that to the company as its global chief operating officer.
“Kiip is undeniably one of the world’s most innovative companies with a great story to tell — they’re also sitting at the epicenter of three burgeoning markets: mobile, gaming, and advertising,” Anekal (pictured) said. “They’ve taken an angle that I’ve never seen any company tackle with such prowess, and the growth opportunity they sit on is absolutely massive. I’m excited to help them take this to the next level.”
San Francisco-based Kiip was founded in September 2010 by Wong, Courtney Guertin, and Amadeus Demarzi.
Kiip offers rewards at the moment when you achieve something in a mobile game, such as getting past a level or a boss. Wong calls this “moments based” advertising, or catching a consumer when he or she is having a great time with a game. It recently also started offering Swarms, or mobile game tournaments with big-ticket rewards.
Anekal will be responsible for managing the growth and operations of the rewards network. Anekal led the brand integration and ad efforts with top-tier consumer brands in titles such as FarmVille and CityVille. Anekal has a decade of experience with the development of games and online advertising products. He was global director of brand advertising at Zynga, the social game giant, and he led global ad operations at Electronic Arts. He also had a similar position at in-game ad startup Massive, which was acquired by Microsoft.
Regarding the age question, Wong said in an email to VentureBeat, “I’ve been very fortunate and I’m able to have conversations with the right people who I can respect and they reciprocate. I think the amount of progress we’ve made and the partnerships and brands we’ve struck deals with are indicative of that. I think brands and agencies are looking for the younger generation to propel them to areas they would have never considered. Manny will certainly help, but he’s joked that he’s always felt like the young one too. This industry is also very young.”
Kiip is backed by Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, True Ventures, Verizon Ventures, and Crosslink Capital.
[Photo credit: Kiip]