Grey Area Closes € 1.9m in Series A

I'm excited to tell you that we at Grey Area have closed a € 1.9m in Series A from a really great set of investors, namely Index Ventures, London Venture Partners and Initial Capital. These guys really understand the game space and how we want to create an entirely new category of games. Could not be happier to have them with us along with Lifeline Ventures, who have been with us ever since we raised a Seed round in 2010.

Now we're gearing up for the US launch. We hope to have Shadow Cities available on iTunes App Store in the next couple of months. We're also growing really strong, moving into new offices here in Helsinki and hiring a lot new talent to the team.

I will write a longer piece on our future plans soon, but wanted to give you the news right away. I pasted the press release below and am happy to answer any questions and discuss with you guys (Full disclosure: I'm a co-founder at ArcticStartup as well as the CEO at Grey Area)


Smartphone Game Developer Grey Area Closes $2.5 Million in Series A Led by Index Ventures, London Venture Partners, Initial Capital


Grey Area’s First Title Shadow Cities is a Groundbreaking Mobile Alternate Reality Game


Feb. 23, 2011 - Helsinki, Finland - Grey Area, an innovator in mobile location-based games has raised a $2.5m round of financing from an experienced syndicate of games industry investors comprising Index Ventures, London Venture Partners and Initial Capital. The company was founded to create a breakthrough gaming experience using real world locations as the context for mobile games.


"The iPhone has already emerged as an immensely popular gaming platform," commented Ville Vesterinen, CEO of Grey Area. "However, we feel there is an entirely new category of games that can be built for today's smartphones. Our goal with Shadow Cities was to make the creative and technical leaps needed to make this a reality."


In Autumn 2010, the company launched Shadow Cities on the iPhone in a beta phase exclusively in Finland. The game leverages the phone's location to transform city streets into a battle zone for players who take on the role of techno-mages. Shadow Cities is free-to-play with additional in-app offerings. Within days of its launch, Shadow Cities became the top-grossing iPhone game in Finland.

"Mobile gaming is one of the most exciting and active sectors in consumer technology today," commented Ben Holmes of Index Ventures. "Of all the startups we met, we thought Grey Area had the biggest vision and the most gifted and passionate team to execute on that vision."

The company is headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, where it is rapidly expanding its team of developers and game designers. There are also near-term plans to open a U.S. office. A new version of Shadow Cities with additional features and content will soon be released and made available globally.

About Grey Area
Grey Area is a mobile city gaming company using real world locations as the context for mobile games. The company’s goal is to enable people to rediscover and experience cities through games. Grey Area’s first game title Shadow Cities, a location based MMORPG for iPhone, was launched first in Finland and became the top-grossing iPhone game on its first day. Shadow Cities will be available soon globally. Grey Area was founded by Mikko Hämäläinen, Andreas Karlsson, Teemu Tuulari and Ville Vesterinen in 2008. For more information, visit http://www.greyarealabs.com and http://www.shadowcities.com/.

About Index Ventures
Index Ventures is a venture capital firm, founded in 1996, that partners with entrepreneurs in the technology, biotech and clean tech industries. The team is based in Geneva, London, and Jersey and will open a Silicon Valley office in the Fall of 2011. Index works closely with companies at all stages to build disruptive technologies and emerge as market defining global leaders. The firm is currently investing from the Index Ventures Seed Fund (2010), Index Ventures fund V (€350 million, 2009) and the Index Ventures Growth I fund (€400 million, 2008). Successful exits from the technology portfolio include Lovefilm (acquired by Amazon), Betfair (LSE : BET.L), Playfish (acquired by Electronic Arts), MySQL (acquired by Sun), Last.fm (acquired by CBS) and Skype (acquired by eBay). Index’s current investments include Adconion, AlertMe, ASOS, Criteo, Boku, Etsy, Factual, Flipboard, GroupSpaces, Mimecast, MOO, Moshi Monsters, Ozon.ru, Rightscale, Sonos, Privalia, Rightscale, Trialpay and viagogo. For more information, please visit www.indexventures.com

About Initial Capital
Initial Capital is a private venture capital fund that invests in seed and early-stage technology companies. Founded by a group of experienced investors with significant operating and investment track records, we work closely with the management teams of our portfolio companies to build category-leading businesses.

About London Venture Partners
London Venture Partners, founded by David Gardner, Phil Harrison, Paul Heydon and David Lau-Kee, is dedicated to investments in the web, mobile, social and cloud computer game industry. LVP is investing in start-ups and early stage companies that will help determine the future of interactive entertainment.

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Kaimaan February 23, 2011

Fantastic!!!! Congrats guys!!

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Kristoffer Lawson February 23, 2011

Excellent work in a super-interesting area. One which has been of personal interest to me for many years. Shadow Cities, as a concept, could easily become really big, as long as there's a continued focus on getting the gameplay spot on.

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vesterinen February 23, 2011

Thanks Kaitsu and Kristoffer!

Agreed! We see massive potential and are well on our way to capture it.

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nixarn February 23, 2011

Wow, that's awesome! Congrats!

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vesterinen February 23, 2011

nixarn - thanks man!

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Kristian Luoma February 23, 2011

Good job guys!

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vesterinen February 23, 2011

Thanks Kristian! Greets from the whole team!

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Jani Penttinen February 23, 2011

Congrats, and best of luck for the US launch!

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Tapio Äijälä February 23, 2011

This is great news! Congrats guys & work hard to make Shadow Cities an international phenomenon!

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Janne Saarikko February 23, 2011

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!

I had a hunch with you guys, but when I saw the instant wow with addiction for couple of newbies starting Shadow Cities... I knew you were into something big.

Good luck with busy times, and all the rest... (Ville you know from our talks along the years ;-))

Super!

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vesterinen February 23, 2011

Jani & Tapio - Thanks! We have, and we will!

Janne - I've always trusted your hunch. Must have been a self fulfilling cycle going here. I'll report back via AS and hope to see you comment every step of the way.

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vesterinen February 23, 2011

To give you the full picture, here's Petteri's answer on Quora to: Who are the investors involved with Grey Area:

http://www.quora.com/Grey-Area-Labs/Who-are-the-investors-involved-with-Grey-Area-Labs-in-Finland/answer/Petteri-Koponen?srid=uMJ

Massive thanks to Petteri Koponen at Lifeline Ventures, Ilkka Paananen currently at Supercell.net, Asmo Halinen at Iltalehti, Teemu & Pekka at Huikea Experience and Tina Aspiala at Eat.fi. These peeps have all helped out and been invaluable along the road. Thanks guys and gals!

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Teemu Arina February 23, 2011

Best news in ages! Well done, guys. Cities are never the same again.

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Hendrik M February 23, 2011

Fantastic news - Congratulations!

I'm sure this is going to be a big hit worldwide, and gain you guys some fame! Looking forward to the update =)

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mikikuusi February 23, 2011

Truly fantastic! Congrats Ville & the crew!

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vesterinen February 23, 2011

Teemu, Hendrik and Miki - Thanks guys! Feels good to have you as excited as we are.

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Olli Pölönen February 24, 2011

Another proof of the blooming gaming industry in Finland. Congrats & hope you can keep up the good momentum!

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Tommi Rissanen February 25, 2011

Having played the game since day 1 I am very happy with the news and know that the success is well deserved. Congtrats to all you guys! Keep on the good work, can't wait to banish some US Animators...