by Ryan Lawler (@ryanlawler)
Plain Vanilla Games, Maker Of Ultra-Hot Trivia App QuizUp
Plain Vanilla Games, the company behind ultra-hot trivia app QuizUp, has raised a $22 million Series B Round of financing. The financing was led by Sequoia Capital, with participation from all existing investors, including Tencent, Greycroft Partners, IDG Ventures, BOLDstart Ventures, CrunchFund (owned by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington), and MESA+.QuizUp is an iPhone app that pits users against one another in either real-time or asynchronous trivia matchups. Users choose from up to 300 different topics and can challenge friends or strangers to answer a fast, six-question round of trivia questions.
It’s incredibly fun, and has become extremely popular over the last several weeks, with more than 5 million downloads since launch.
This round of financing is the third that Plain Vanilla has raised since the beginning of the year, but it’s by far the biggest, and brings the total amount raised to $27 million. Along with the new cash, the company is adding Sequoia’s Roelof Botha to its board of directors.
The game studio’s last round of financing — the addition of $2 million from Sequoia and e.Ventures — was timed basically right around the time of QuizUp’s launch, which means the company took money before it knew that it had a hit on its hands.
At the time, Plain Vanilla was looking for a little insurance and some money to fund marketing around the launch of the game. What it found instead was that QuizUp spread like wildfire, thanks to impressive word-of-mouth and growth through social channels.
“We didn’t really need the money just before launch, but we thought of it as an insurance thing,” CEO Thor Fridriksson told me in a phone interview. “In retrospect we probably shouldn’t have raised then. The dilution is higher when taking money on a pre-launch valuation versus now.”
Growth Since Launch
The latest investment in Plain Vanilla was made after QuizUp spent several weeks at or near the top of the Apple App Store charts. Released in late November, QuizUp has averaged about a million downloads per week, racking up more than 5 million downloads since launch.
“It’s the dream of any entrepreneur — you work on something for such a long time and then when you release it, it’s a hit,” Fridriksson said. While pure download numbers have been impressive, the company has been even more encouraged by continued interest in the game, even several weeks after launch.
“The funny thing is that we had a really good launch, but we’re used to seeing games that …