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German ‘startup factory’ HitFox expands globally with four new game distribution businesses

The HitFox Group is making a big bet on games as it launches a global business for four new game distribution businesses. The Berlin-based holding company for game startups is launching new offices in Paris and San Francisco as it expands its businesses overseas.

HitFox operates a game deals site, but it has begun building itself into a “startup factory” or, using familiar Silicon Valley lingo, an incubator. The company delved deeper into the games industry earlier this year with its acquisition of Ad2games from Gameforge. Ad2games, an ad network for online games, has tripled its revenues since February.

DeMeo, Nicole 4Jan Beckers, chief executive of HitFox Group, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company is building a worldwide game distribution business, mainly by building and acquiring businesses with synergy. He says that distribution is a good business because it generates about 50 percent of the profits made in gaming. The company has hired Nicole DeMeo (pictured right) as vice president of marketing and strategic relations in San Francisco and brought aboard Jean-Philippe Decka as head of business development in Paris. It also has a new office in Seoul.

“Mobile and online gaming are increasingly becoming global industries, and we are already generating 80 percent of our revenues from international customers,” he said. “The U.S. is the most important market, followed by Germany, France, and the other big European markets. We are committed to growing our core markets with local teams, with Nicole DeMeo and Jean-Philippe Decka taking the lead in San Francisco and Paris.”

HitFox has also helped start several new businesses, including AppLift and Game Finder.

AppLift is a mobile game marketing business — what the company calls a “mobile affiliate network.” AppLift delivers up to 10,000 non-incentivized mobile installs per day for game publishers even though the company launched only four months ago. That means that it convinces 10,000 people a day to download and install a new app.

Game Finder is an app for iOS that helps players locate the best games. While hundreds of thousand of mobile games are available, Game Finder has only 700 because it focuses on those with the best quality, Beckers said. Game Finder has debuted in German and has beta versions running in the U.S. and France. All together, these businesses have enabled HitFox to partner with more than 160 game publishers, including Electronic Arts, King.com, and Perfect World.

DeMeo previously served as an early consulting team member at Scoreloop (purchased by RIM) and Peak Games. DeMeo said she joined because the company has a “fantastic, disruptive model.”

King.com’s Shane Horneij, head of mobile marketing, said, “AppLift is a great partner providing quality users at scale. We look forward to further growing our partnership.” In the past year, HitFox has grown from 25 employees to 75. Next year, the company hopes to double the size of its workforce and grow revenues five-fold. The company also plans to acquire more businesses in 2013.

HitFox was founded in May 2011 by Beckers and fellow serial entrepreneurs Hanno Fichtner, Tim Koschella and Ruben Haas. They received assistance from Team Europe Ventures and raised money from HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, Tengelmann Ventures, Hasso Plattner Ventures, Kite Ventures, and Digital Pioneers. The company hasn’t disclosed the exact amount, but it is in the mid-millions of euros.

Rivals for AppLift include Fiksu, Chartboost, and PlayHaven. Rivals for Ad2games include CPMstar. And a variety of game portals compete with HitFox and HitFox Game Finder. Beckers was previously a founder and managing director of SponsorPay, a game monetization firm. He was also the first venture partner of Team Europe, another European incubator.

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