CocoaChina Raises $14M From Sequoia China, Steamboat to Foster Local iOS Developer Community

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By Kim-Mai Cutler Comment

CocoaChina, a game developer that also hosts one of the largest iOS developer communities in China, has raised $14 million in a second round of funding from Sequoia Capital China, Disney’s Steamboat Ventures and Northern Light Venture Capital.

Known locally as Chukong, the company is behind Fishing Joy, a game that has accumulated 10 million users on Android and iOS since it launched four months ago. It’s consistently ranked as one of China’s top 50 grossing games and it’s broken into the U.S.’s top 50 free apps, although it’s usually not among the top grossing there.

While that may not be eyebrow-raising considering that some game developers are breaking into the hundred million range or higher in terms of downloads, CocoaChina also happens to host the most active local iOS developer community in the country. It ends up like being like a cross between iPhoneDevSDK and a gaming company. The company’s co-founder Gary Liu was an early employee at RenRen who experimented with iOS development when the iPhone first came out. He created CocoaChina as a hobby on the side, until it eventually grew into a business that raised a $1.2 million Series A from Northern Light.

The question is how to transform that into something much bigger, which would reflect the valuation that a $14 million Series B round implies. Beyond Fishing Joy, the company is working on other genres of mobile games like arcade-style titles and MMOs that use freemium monetization. It is also working on advertising and virtual currency products that will appeal to its broader iOS developer community. CocoaChina says that about 80 percent of all iOS developers in China are registered with the company.

CocoaChina can also work with local Chinese iOS developers on helping them finance, market and distribute their games globally — akin to what Chillingo has done for game developers but in a more culturally specific context. Another Beijing-based company PapayaMobile fulfills a similar role, except on the Android platform. However, Papaya ultimately put its own titles on the back burner to become more of a platform play that bridges the gap between the Chinese and international Android developer community and both consumer markets.

While a few mobile game developers like Rovio and EA’s recently acquired PopCap Games are making in-roads into the world’s largest market, what is striking here in Beijing is just how much the country’s mobile developers want to find success outside of China. The local market is still relatively small with between perhaps 20 and 30 million Chinese consumers carrying Android or iOS devices. And, ARPU figures on local games still pale in comparison to what can be found in Europe and the U.S. Most companies don’t publicly share their ARPUs, let alone what they’re earning in China, because the market is simply too nascent to provide any meaningful data.