gWallet is announcing today that it is starting an early-stage fund to invest in social gaming companies. That’s separate from its main business of creating a platform for special offers to help monetize social games.
But the fund can help spur business for the company’s platform and thereby speed its adoption, said Gurbaksh Chahal, chief executive and founder of gWallet. Offers are special ads that users can participate in, in lieu of paying for virtual goods in a social game. They can, for instance, agree to sign up for a Netflix subscription, rather than pay $5 for virtual currency in a game.
Chahal started San Francisco-based gWallet as an “ethical offer company.” Amid the controversy around scam-like offers, Chahal said gWallet will work with major brands to create offers that are legitimate and valuable to consumers.
The company raised $12 million in a recent round of funding that will allow it to invest in game companies. Chahal said that gWallet has already begun searching for social game companies on platforms such as Facebook and MySpace.
“We believe there are social game companies that are not getting the attention they deserve,” Chahal said in an interview. “We would love to help them get established within an ecosystem.”
The companies that gWallet funds will likely need to use its offer platform to monetize games. Then, once those companies’ games begin generating royalties, gWallet will benefit from the investments. Chahal said his company will target investments of $100,000 to $1 million. Because gWallet will work closely with game publishers, it will have an easier time shopping around the developers in which it has investments, once the time for an acquisition comes. Chahal said the system will not present any conflicts of interest for the company.
gWallet’s monetization platform has alternative online payments, virtual currency, and aggregation of virtual products. It is targeted at Facebook, MySpace, Hi5, Tagged and other social networks. Additionally, gWallet is collaborating with MySpace to help the funded companies developing on the MySpace platform gain distribution within MySpace’s extensive network.
gWallet raised its new funds from Adams Street Partners, Trinity Ventures, Stanford University and others. It is the third Internet startup by entrepreneur Chahal, who started ClickAgents at the age of 16 and sold it to ValueClick for $40 million two years later. He then sold behavioral ad network Blue Lithium to Yahoo in October, 2007 for $300 million.