Casual gaming startup PlayFirst announced this morning that it has raised an additional $9.2 million.
The company, which started in 2004, is best known for its Dinner Dash franchise, which has to date seen four sequels, availability on nearly all of the major gaming platforms, and a No. 7 ranking in the top-selling games of all time based on data collected by market researcher Interpret. The company has since expanded its Dash franchise to Cooking Dash, Wedding Dash, and Hotel Dash.
With its newly raised capital, the company plans to increase agility in the mobile and social gaming sectors, as would be expected of it in this age of Farmville and WeRule. And it’s not doing too badly already: Chocolatier, one of its offerings, has 800,000 monthly active users on Facebook, and all of the games in the Dash Franchise have a place in the top 100 grossing games list on Apple’s App Store platform.
The company is also announcing the appointing of Eric Hartness as vice president and general manager of social games. Hartness was previously chief marketing officer at Playspan and previously spent nine years at Electronic Arts as vice president of marketing for its Redwood Shores studio. In an interview, Hartness said he was impressed with the leadership of PlayFirst’s chief executive Mari Baker. He also said he wanted to get back to a focus on creating content and was impressed with PlayFirst’s brands such as Diner Dash, Chocolatier, and Dream Chronicles.
The announced funding consists of $5.2 million from existing investors Mayfield Fund, Trinity Partners, DCM and Rustic Canyon Ventures, and $4 million in debt financing by Comerica Bank. Baker said in an interview that the funding round ensures that the company will continue to expand its efforts in social games, headed by Hartness, and mobile and console games, headed by Chris Williams. Fran Dillard will continue to head the company’s casual online games business.
“We have a successful, profitable iPhone effort and we are doubling down on that and also want cash on hand to invest in social games,” Baker said.
Hartness said that PlayFirst has a couple of unannounced Facebook games.
Based in San Francisco, PlayFirst was founded in 2004 and now has more than 100 employees. The company has raised $31 million to date, with the last round of $16.5 million back in 2007.
Dean Takahashi contributed to this report.