Mobile Social Games Developer TinyCo Raises A Big First Round

San Francisco-based Brooklyn Packet has raised $18 million in a first round of funding to make social games for mobile phones.

As part of the round, the company is changing its name to TinyCo, which is in no way representative of its ambitions.

The game-maker, which launched in 2009, has already reached profitability after releasing three iPhone titles, including Tiny Chef and Tap Resort. What’s more, it believes it has what it takes to build a $1 billion company over the next two to three years.

Those aggressive plans is likely what attracted big-name investors, like Andreessen Horowitz, which led TinyCo’s $18 million round, along with several super angels, including Ron Conway and Keith Rabois.

TinyCo builds mobile games that are free and supported by in-game virtual goods.

If it sounds familiar, that’s because it is.

In the past four years, Zynga has built a company valued close to $10 billion by monetizing games on Facebook through virtual goods.

TinyCo’s two founders Suleman “Suli” Ali and Ian Spivey, who met each other in high school, said mobile has the potential to spawn great companies in the same way that Facebook did.

“The mobile opportunity is huge,” Spivey said. “Android is going to have 100 million new devices this year, and iOS will add 50 million more. Mobile is where Facebook was two years ago.”

Still, investors and entrepreneurs have been optimistic about the potential for mobile games before, and it hasn’t always gone so smoothly.

For Marc Andreessen, he admits mobile games have been “out of favor” for him for years.

“This is our first important investment in the mobile gaming category,” he said. “You needed the iPhone and other platforms, like Android and Windows Phone, WebOS and others, to make it happen. The market wasn’t ready before, and it didn’t matter how good the developers were.”

The company, which has 37 employees, is working next on launching games for Android, just in time for Google’s launch of in-app purchases, which is coming to the marketplace soon.

Andreessen said TinyCo is a “classic example of a startup with outstanding entrepreneurs. We are the first money in and its already profitable. That’s an incredible achievement with no investment.”

So, does TinyCo have the ability to be the Zynga of mobile?

Andreessen, who is also an investor in Zynga, wasn’t willing to go there, but added: “There’s going to be a whole series of mobile-centric franchises that are going to be much different compared to companies that built on the Web. Mobile is a first-class opportunity.”


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