Kara Swisher

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Games People Play: Social Gaming Network's Shervin Pishevar Speaks!


Today, in yet another episode of the Web 2.0 lottery, Social Gaming Network grabbed $15 million in funding for its widgety gaming apps that are popular on Facebook and other social-networking sites.

The round, led by Greylock Partners, Founders Fund, Columbia Capital and Novak Biddle Venture Partners, will go toward expanding its offerings, which include the popular Warbook, and also its network for other developers to create and publish online games on.

SGN grew out of Webs.com, which used to be known as Freewebs.

While BoomTown often makes fun of viral apps, most of which are faddish and juvenile, the better made gaming apps actually are likely to be a real business over time, as long they remain engaging and fun to play as the classic real-life games are.

After all, who ever gets sick of Candyland?

SGN’s games are not quite that, focusing more on strategy and bang-bang that 12-year-old boys of any age so love, but, CEO Shervin Pishevar promises, with increasingly rich features and better graphics.

The business plan? Advertising, of course, especially sponsorships, as well as the sale of virtual goods and premium offerings.

SGN’s other popular online games include FightClub, StreetRace, Jetman, Text Twirl and Free Gifts. It has 1.1 million daily active users mostly across Facebook, but also on Bebo, hi5, and MySpace.

In the space, its main competitor is Zynga (here is a post and video with its founder, Mark Pincus). Naturally, the two bicker back and forth in the blogosphere about size and quality of games.

But it seems to me that there is room for both, so the fighting seems like a lot of noisy, well, game-playing.

Here’s Pishevar talking about the sector:

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald