GWALLET RAISES FIRST INSTITUTIONAL ROUND, INCREASING TOTAL INVESTMENTS TO $12.5M
Adams Street Partners, Trinity Ventures and Others Join Funding Round For Third Startup Founded by Internet Entrepreneur Gurbaksh Chahal
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - December 1, 2009 -gWallet, a new monetization platform for social media, today announced it has closed its first institutional funding round led by Adams Street Partners and Trinity Ventures. This brings total funding raised for the startup to $12.5 million.
gWallet is the third startup for founder Gurbaksh Chahal who launched his first advertising startup, ClickAgents, at 16 and sold that venture to ValueClick for $40 million just two years later. His second venture, behavioral advertising network BlueLithium, was sold to Yahoo! in October 2007 in a $300 million transaction.
gWallet currently offers brand engagement opportunities across leading social media and social gaming platforms. With the additional funding, gWallet will open offices in Europe to better serve the growing number of global brands that wish to capitalize on the rapidly growing social media ecosystem.
"Social Media has brought about an abrupt change in consumer Internet behavior where the web experience is now more of a personal experience, interacting with the people closest to us rather than reaching out around the world," Chahal said. "Marketers are rushing to be part of this shift and virtual currency is one of the most innovative ways brands can connect with consumers."
gWallet is the leader in cleaning up the virtual currency space, which has recently attracted negative publicity surrounding controversial consumer "offers" presented in social games typically found on the most popular social networking platforms. Unlike current incumbents in the virtual currency space, gWallet is introducing proprietary technology, strict ethical standards and the industry's first operating guidelines to better protect consumers and make this emerging media "brand safe" for advertisers.
The company works with brands directly as opposed to the current affiliate model, allowing for a single point of accountability. Its sophisticated technology platform ensures that developers generate the highest yield, marketers achieve their ROI goals, and consumers have the best experience. Perhaps most importantly, gWallet also offers a transparent platform so that developers and social media platforms can see at any time the exact offers being presented inside their ecosystem.
Analyst firm Think Equity reported recently that the growth in social games alone has far exceeded the firm's estimates from just months ago. The firm said it believes social gaming is already a $720 million a year business and it will grow to more than $2 billion in just the next three years.
"Companies like gWallet can be leaders in introducing brands and advertisers to this exploding universe of social games and social networks, " said Rich LeFurgy, founding chairman of the Interactive Advertising Bureau who is now an advisor to gWallet. "This new advertising space is going to offer exciting new opportunities for advertisers to get deep engagement with consumers."
gWallet is headquartered in San Francisco. The company expects to open offices around the world in the coming months and will have a substantial presence in New York. It's headquarters for the EU will be located in London and is expected to open in the coming year.
"There's a huge global opportunity for a company like gWallet to be the White Knight in this space and put in place standards that work for marketers, publishers and consumers," said Robin Murray, Partner at Adams Street Partners, who also previously backed Chahal as an investor in BlueLithium.
"We know from experience that Gurbaksh is the kind of leader that can put standards in place that will create a hugely successful business in this exploding social media monetization category."
The funding will support the company's global expansion and the company is also actively looking to make acquisitions that will enhance its capabilities.
"This company has the right team with highly relevant domain experience. We expect the business to blossom into a global player very quickly," said Tim McAdam, General Partner at Trinity Ventures. "This category needs a leader like gWallet to create a 'brand safe' environment across this new social media ecosystem. Timing could not be better for gWallet's offering"
gWallet is taking on the responsibility of bringing new technologies to social media that will provide transparency and standards that will allow the category to flourish and grow. It provides brands, publishers and social media platforms with new, cutting edge technology to monetize this growth in a consumer friendly format. The gWallet monetization platform contains three components including Alternative Online Payment, Virtual Currency and Aggregation of Virtual Products. The platform is a comprehensive system that has been optimized for Facebook, OpenSocial platforms (MySpace, Hi5, Tagged, etc), virtual worlds or websites utilizing virtual offer-based currency. For more information visit www.gWallet.com.