The Santa Monica, Calif.-based startup is trying to steal a march on PC-based rivals such as Twitch by focusing on a “mobile first” strategy for streaming games. Mobcrush wants to enable fans to play games and share the gameplay live with other spectators, with the eventual goal of connecting the world’s billion mobile gamers with one-click streaming.
The size of the market isn’t clear, but there are a billion mobile users, and lots of them play games. Besides KPCB, other investors include Raine Venture Partners, First Round Capital, Lowercase, Rincon Venture Partners, Crosscut Ventures, and Advancit Capital.
“We spent some time in the Santa Monica area and came across them, and [we] also met them through our seed investor partners,” said Mike Abbott, a general partner at KPCB, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We have an increasing conviction in the popularity of esports and how it is intersecting with mobile.”
He said that Mobcrush is already showing engagement numbers that prove that there’s an appetite to stream and watch mobile games. CEO Royce Disini said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company isn’t yet disclosing numbers of players who are streaming with its service. But it ran one Hearthstone community tournament in Boston where it claims it saw a peak of 20,000 simultaneous users who viewed a total of 1 million minutes of gameplay.
Currently in beta for iOS and Mac OS X with Windows and Android coming soon, Mobcrush will be the first one-click mobile game solution when it officially launches across all platforms in the coming months.
Disini said his company wasn’t seeking funding but that it fielded a variety of attractive offers.
“We’ve had our heads down laser focused on execution,” he said. “We’ve added talent to our team. We believe this market is a white space. No one dominates it, and we are breaking new ground.”
Recently Mobcrush added some game industry experts to its team, hiring Google Play games lead Koh Kim, former Apple App Store game lead Greg Essig, and Eric Doty, a former Xbox community veteran. Doty arranged an exclusive streaming deal with TouchArcade and hired iHasCupquake to produce regular streams on the platform.
To date, Mobcrush has raised $15 million, and it has 20 employees.
Rivals include Kamcord, which is pivoting from recording mobile gameplay to livestreaming it, as well as Twitch, which Amazon bought last year for $970 million.
“The key is what does the community want to do with the content, and these founders have a good understanding of the services and community,” Abbott said.
Kleiner Perkins invested in Electronic Arts and Zynga, but it hasn’t done a lot of game investments lately. Abbott will serve on Mobcrush’s board, and KPCB partner Bing Gordon, former chief creative officer at EA, will also offer his advice.
“We look at individual opportunities in games, and we ask where can we see whole platforms emerge?” Abbott said. “That is the belief with Mobcrush.”
Disini said the company has an Android app in the works, and it is still in beta testing with its iOS app.