Kiwi

Getting to use Facebook for work, while I was part of the company for five years, was hard to top but I found a way – playing mobile games is now part of my DFJ job description.

I’m thrilled to share my third investment for DFJ and my first out of our eleventh fund, into Kiwi’s Series B led by Northgate Capital.  Kiwi is an AAA mobile gaming company co-founded by Omar Siddiqui and Shvetank Jain and initially funded by Omar Hamoui and Sequoia Capital. This team is one of the rare Android-first developers that have gotten five of their titles into the top twenty-five grossing of the Google Play Store. You can read more about Kiwi’s Series B funding here, here and here.

Now, as has become a bit of a personal tradition, I’d like to share the story behind my investment into Kiwi.

Since joining DFJ just over a year ago I’ve been talking about the large opportunities available on Android.  As a result I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the most exciting Android-first focused startups that are pushing the mobile experience further than most folks in the Silicon Valley think is possible. Nevertheless, I had trouble finding right team, concept and investment opportunity to get behind and wasn’t sure if I’d find the right Android-first company.

It turns out, sometimes as an investor, you have to be found instead of doing the finding.  Lucky for me Omar Siddiqui found some of my blog posts about Android so he asked for an introduction via our mutual friend Matt Wyndowe.  Even though Matt spells his last name so wildly, he is anything but wild when it comes to making introductions. He is one of the most thoughtful super nodes I know!

In our first conversation, Omar captured my imagination with his vision for building an amazing Android-first company focused on AAA games and distribution. As I spent more time with him and the team I started to learn new things about mobile gaming and Android that floored me.  Especially around how Android distribution and monetization were working in the wild.  The scale of Kiwi along with the number of Android product experiments they’d made was astounding.  Just as importantly, Omar and I had a very natural communication rhythm that led to several deeply engaging conversations around the future of Android and mobile in general that profoundly affected my thinking. Needless to say, I quickly knew I wanted to invest.

The only rub with investing was that Kiwi already had an incredibly strong investment syndicate with Northgate committed to leading the Series B with participation of Sequoia and Omar Hamoui (the founder of Admob) who led the Series A and Seed rounds, respectively.  Not such a little rub, in truth. Luckily, Omar and his existing investors were equally excited about having DFJ participate so we came up with a way to make it work for all parties. This was also a particularly good learning experience for me since Kiwi was my first series B investment in addition to being a multiparty negotiation.

Right now, the Kiwi team is hard at work on its next generation of AAA games. And in seeing the internal demos I am confident that mobile gamers are going to be floored with what they deliver.  If you love producing world class AAA games please reach out to me as the Kiwi team is planning to hire another executive producer now that the series B money is “in the bank”.

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