A huge congratulations on behalf of Balderton to Jens Begemann and everyone at Wooga on today’s announced acquisition by Playtika.
Playtika is a great home for Wooga, with rapid growth, a great team and a complementary set of games. Both companies emphasise combining art with science to create great mobile games.
We are very happy to have played our small part in the Wooga story. This started back in 2009 when our former partner Roberto Bonanzinga met Jens. We quickly progressed to an investment, even though the company was pre-revenue and still very early: they had had one minor success on Facebook with Brain Buddies and the next game Bubble Island was looking promising.
The reason for us to invest so early was the quality of the team.
Jens — although he would hate to admit it — is an exceptional entrepreneur adept at product, strategy, management and culture. He is also very self-aware and self-critical, a rare characteristic among venture-backed CEOs.
He was joined by Philipp Moeser as co-founder and CTO, who has ensured that Wooga’s games and engine performance have been top-notch throughout their history.
Jens and Philipp met at the Rocket venture Jamba! (of Crazy Frog fame) — coming through the ‘Rocket school’ put them in great shape to hit the ground running at Wooga.
Jens and Philipp have been joined by some great team members over the years, many more than I can name here, but I should highlight former COO and MD Jan Miczaika, and Sebastian Nussbaum who is the force behind Wooga's two biggest games Pearl’s Peril and June’s Journey.
I joined Balderton late 2009 and was asked by Roberto to join as a board observer on Wooga, becoming a director when Roberto left. One of my first jobs was to try to work out a potential revenue model for a company whose games were completely free. Wooga continued to grow incredibly fast and became one of the top global Facebook game developers, and Balderton and Holtzbrinck were joined as investors by Highland and Tenaya. To Wooga’s great credit their Series B was their final round of financing, and Jens remains their biggest shareholder.
I won’t attempt to go through the full history of Wooga here, as it has been covered elsewhere. As with all great games companies, it is a story of creativity, hard work, resilience and a bit of luck. It involved a difficult platform shift from Facebook to mobile, and it took time for us to focus on the genre where Wooga is particularly strong: story-driven casual games. Being an investor in a games company can be particularly frustrating as so much depends on the quality of the games, which is something the board cannot and should not attempt to influence. Where we can be helpful is on team building, strategy, financials and as a CEO coach. I sincerely hope that Balderton has been that for Wooga.
This acquisition is an important moment for the Berlin ecosystem because while Berlin is a fantastic tech ecosystem it has not had that many exits yet. So it's great to start seeing these happen at scale. We are optimistic that the likes of Contentful, GetYourGuide and Auto1 will continue this upward trend in the coming years.
At Balderton, we are increasingly excited by the Berlin ecosystem. We continue to spend a lot of time in Berlin looking for our next investments, as well as spending time with our other investments here: Contentful, Dalia Research, Frontier Car Group and Infarm.
Plus, we love to see repeat entrepreneurs. In fact the co-founder CTO of Contentful — Paolo Negri — was previously with Wooga.
Congratulations again to the Wooga team!
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