Former MySpace CEO DeWolfe Makes Social Gaming Move with MindJolt Purchase

Former MySpace chief executive Chris DeWolfe has been talking to social gaming companies about a possible roll-up since last year, and now the action is starting. With financial support from Austin Ventures, he and a team of other former MySpace leaders have bought casual-social gaming company MindJolt, with some big expansions in mind.

San Francisco-based MindJolt, as our readers will note, has been on Facebook for years, and regularly appears on our weekly lists of apps that are gaining the most new users. The new plan is to make MindJolt an even bigger platform for independent casual game developers, helping them reach users and make money on Facebook and other social platforms.

As of today, MindJolt says it has more than 20 million monthly active users on the web. Although it has a web site, we count 19.5 million on its Facebook application — essentially an app that contains the games MindJolt also offers on its site — and 223,000 total users on the new MySpace version it recently launched. So, almost all of its users appear to be on Facebook. Overall, the site and these apps carry 1,300 casual games from 1,000 developers, according to the company.

Many developers have ported casual games on to Facebook, but the titles have not proven to be as popular nor as lucrative as the social games that developers have built from scratch. We’re interested to see what MindJolt specifically does to change this dynamic.

The three major initiatives it is working on now, from the press release:

  • Increased monetization through major brand partnerships and virtual good offerings
  • Expanding MindJolt’s global presence to all relevant websites and smart phone platforms
  • Working closer with game developers to create tools for single player and multiplayer social games.

DeWolfe is starting a fascinating new follow-up act — he helped found MySpace, then lead it through its purchase by News Corp. and onwards for most of the decade. He left it last year under less than great circumstances as the company was struggling to compete with Facebook in terms of traffic and product development. However, as industry sources have related to us, he helped make a lot of people money, he has a big network of friends — and he’s a talented leader.

TechCrunch has a few more details what’s going on. Austin Ventures may have put more than $20 million into the entity, which was called Platform G until it bought MindJolt and the combined company will be called MindJolt.

The following MySpace folks will be joining DeWolfe; here they are, including their new titles and former News Corp. jobs.

  • Chief Technology Officer Aber Whitcomb, former MySpace chief technology officer and also a MySpace founder
  • Chief Operating Officer Colin Digiaro, former MySpace head of monetization, co-founder of News Corp.’ SlingShot Labs
  • SVP of Business & Corporate Development Josh Yguado, former vice president of business development at Fox Networks Group.

MindJolt cofounder Richard Fields is staying with the company, leading product strategy. Although DeWolfe has never spoken publicly about his moves into social gaming, TechCrunch reports “DeWolfe has said that he intends to execute a roll up strategy, and the company is clearly gearing up to buy more gaming companies.”