VentureWrap: Zynga Brings Kleiner Into Play With $29M

The Potrero Hill, San Francisco-based Mark Pincus social games venture, Zynga Game Network has closed a $29 million Series B funding round led by Kleiner Perkins.

New Kleiner partner and former Electronic Arts Chief Creative Officer Bing Gordon will be joining the board and getting actively involved in operations.

This follows a recent $10 million Series A and the investors in that round (Avalon Ventures, Foundry Group and Union Square Ventures) have participated alongside Kleiner and IVP in the Series B.

I suspect this funding will be used to fuel a number of acquisitions. This is borne out by Zynga’s additional announcement that they have acquired YoVille, a virtual-world app that has over 150,000 daily active users on Facebook.

[Hat tip to Fred Wilson at Union Square Ventures]

VentureWrap: MEVIO Goes Vertical With $15M

MEVIO, the broadband entertainment network formerly known as PodShow, has raised Series C funding of $15 million.

The round was led by Crosslink Capital and included DAG Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia Capital and Sherpalo Ventures.

The funding will be used to launch vertical entertainment networks with the aim of offering advertisers a “brand safe” platform with the reach they currently receive from traditional broadcast networks.

MEVIO’s stats for May 2008 were up 800% in the last twelve months, with over 9 million unique monthly visitors. They will be exploring syndication opportunities that are expected to dramatically enhance their reach.

Mobile Content World: Deer In The iPhone Headlights

This morning I attended the first day of Mobile Content World in Sydney.

It’s an interesting time to have the mobile industry talking about content in Australia, given the pending arrival of the Apple iPhone, especially since it will be supported by no less than three carriers.

The first panel session, after the usual keynotes, was a cacaphony of carrier reps. I couldn’t help feeling, that as much as they tried to stay off the path, they were deer in the iPhone’s headlights. The full browser experience is going to shake their businesses to their foundations.

As Google‘s Nick Heller pointed out to me in the break, they are experiencing 10x the amount of search queries via the iPhone compared to any other mobile browser. That is a significant difference and one that will radically shape the user experience and concomitant ARPU for all of the players moving forward. Walled gardens, however much players like Telstra try to argue that they are open gardens, remain… well, …walled gardens and consumers will leave them in droves for the open web.

The mobile browser situation, however, is far from settled. A case in point is the $13M in Series B funding SkyFire has picked up in a round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners to develop a downloadable browser to work across all mobile-device platforms.

This Mountain View company aims to replicate the PC experience on mobile handsets with an everything works mantra – Flash content, Web 2.0, Ajax etc.

Kleiner Perkins-iFund backed Pelago has also raised a $15M Series B to continue developing Whrrl, its mobile social network. MocoNews describes Whrrl as:

a mix between Facebook, City Search and Loopt. The social networking element is that you can share this information with friends, the directory part is that there’s a list of restaurants and events that your friends can rate and say whether they are going to or not, and the Loopt part is you can see what your friends are up to.

Clearly there is much afoot in this space. I’ll watch closely to see how the Australian carriers and mobile players shape up over the coming months as the iPhone permeates their ecosystem. Stay tuned…

[Picture courtesy of heritagefuture]