Mobile Gaming Ad Network Chartboost Raises $19 Million

Launching in-app commerce product this year

Over the past two years, Chartboost has built its own business by helping mobile game developers run ads in each others’ games to attract players and revenue. That business can be best described as an ad network for mobile games, but “advertising is a word we don’t even use internally for Chartboost,” said co-founder and CEO Maria Alegre. Instead, she said, “we see Chartboost as a business engine [for mobile game developers].”

However Alegre pitches the San Francisco-based startup, investors are buying into her vision. Chartboost—whose network of 12,000 mobile games reaches 300 million unique devices per month, generating 6 billion game sessions—has raised a $19 million Series B funding round led by one of Silicon Valley’s foremost venture firms, Sequoia Capital. The latest funding round follows $2 million raised in October 2011 and carries over from that round investors TransLink Capital and SK Telecom Ventures.

Already profitable, Chartboost will put the funds toward building out its technology; filling up its new office, which can house 100 employees, or more than triple the current staff of 30; and expanding overseas, Alegre said. Chartboost will need the new hands as it opens up a new arm that will substantiate its chief executive’s “business engine” claim.

Over the next three to six months, Chartboost will launch an in-app commerce product that will let developers sell virtual goods within their games, Alegre said. She declined to go into detail about the initiative, but said the company already has “some exclusive partners” on board. Unlike the crowded mobile ad network market Chartboost currently plays in, Alegre said the in-app commerce landscape is relatively open.

As Chartboost establishes a new business, it’s still looking to solidify its existing one. To that end, Sequoia Capital founder Jim Goetz has joined Chartboost’s board. Goetz had invested in mobile ad network AdMob, which Google acquired in 2010, and his portfolio currently contains mobile gaming company Pocket Gems, mobile ad startup Drawbridge and cloud-based ad platform Flite. Alegre pointed to Goetz’s experience with AdMob as especially valuable, describing that company as the first generation of mobile and categorizing Chartboost in the second generation. “We are here to build an enduring company. What we’ve built is only the beginning,” Alegre said.

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