BigDoor Raises $5 Million From Zynga Investors To Turn Websites Into Games

Washington-based upstart BigDoor Media introduced the public beta of its monetization software solution back in October of 2009. The crux of the solution involved providing publishers a private label solution that could be integrated with a single line of code. Fast forward to today, and BigDoor Media is announcing an infusion of $5M in funding from Foundry Group, an investment firm that has backed companies such as Zynga and Gist. BigDoor Media’s new offering is simple: allow website and mobile apps to add game-like mechanics and loyalty programs, and will use the money to aggressively capture a booming market.

BigDoor Media’s new solution will allow publishers to easily add points, badges, leaderboards, virtual currency and goods to their websites and apps. This virtual economy platform will be accessible through an open RESTful API and aims to help publishers effectively engage with and leverage their online community. BigDoor looks to monetize this service through a revenue share model and has secured deals with two prominent publishers in Seattle: Cheezburger Network and BuddyTV. The service is currently in beta and BigDoor will be billing users using BigDoor Credits, which will be in proportional to monthly API calls.

BigDoor Media was founded by Keith Smith and Jeff Malek who previously started Zango in the 1990s. The pair seem to be leveraging the secret sauce of services like Foursquare, Gowalla, and most social games – adding game mechanics and direct feedback loops – to drive deeper engagement for their clients. The founders also feel that real identities and desire to accumulate points should help filter out a lot of anonymous garbage that websites and apps accumulate.

“As human beings, we just kind of naturally respond to these types of rewards and you can see lots and lots of examples in the offline world,” said Smith, pointing to merit badges in the Boy Scouts and frequent flyer miles from the airlines. “In terms of using a reward-based currency system or point system — in the digital world it has just not been that readily available.”

This is a unique service offering although many service companies like HeyZap in the space are already established. Using flash widgets, HeyZap allows publishers to integrate monetization features and within their existing web-based games and port them anywhere on the web, all with Facebook integration. Heyzap differs from BigDoor, however, as its more focused on allowing publishers to integrate games as opposed to BigDoor’s goal of turning existing sites and mobile apps into games themselves.

Foundry Group’s member, Brad Feld, will be joining BigDoor’s board and already serves on Zynga’s board as a director. BigDoor employs six people and had previously raised $715,000 from angel investors.

“BigDoor should become the standard platform used by companies to implement game mechanics,” said Feld in a statement. “There can be multiple orders of magnitude difference in how virtual economies are implemented, and BigDoor’s platform has the ability to help companies get it right.”

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