Jam City: The Evolution of Gaming
A game gives us the chance to put all of our attention and unwavering optimism into something we like and are skilled at. So playing is the emotional inverse of being down.
Mobile video games have improved steadily along with the rapid advancement of cell phone technology. The mobile gaming industry is now a multi-billion dollar industry, and some of the bigger games even make more money than some of the most expensive, mega-budget console games.
American video game creator Jam City, Inc. is one of the startups creating waves in the mobile gaming industry. It was founded in 2009 by Chris DeWolfe, Aber Whitcomb, and Josh Yguado. They challenged their knowledge and experience, being motivated by the world of games, and created something that now everyone around the world enjoys.
Let’s see more of their story and how Jam City became the symbol for mobile entertainment.
As a successful entrepreneur with a wealth of experience, Chris DeWolfe started building global brands at the intersection of pop culture, social media, mobile gaming, media, and technology. Chris was co-founder and CEO of MySpace, the most visited website in the US, which he later sold and then founded Jam City.
Chris was raised in the region of Portland, Oregon, and is the son of two teachers. He completed his secondary school career at Lincoln High School before transferring to the University of Washington for his undergraduate degree in finance.
After that, Chris enrolled in the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California for his M.B.A. As part of one of his business school tasks, Chris created a business plan for a potential social networking website he called Sitegeist.
Because he was knowledgeable about the business, they later honored him with the 2006 Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year award from the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.
But just like with MySpace, Chris didn’t dive into this challenge alone. Josh Yguado is the co-founder and COO of Jam City. Josh graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor's degree and Harvard Business School with an MBA.
Today, Josh is also a board member for several for-profit and nonprofit organizations and a member of YPO Los Angeles. As part of the Aspen Global Leadership Network at the Aspen Institute, he is a member of the 2020 Class of Henry Crown Fellows.
And the last piece that built Jam City – Aber Whitcomb. Aber worked together with Chris and founded MySpace, so after that journey, they both decided to take on a new challenge and engaged in creating Jam City. Aber graduated from the University of Washington in 2000, earning himself a bachelor's degree in Computer Science.
Right off school, Chris founded MySpace – one of the most famous social networks. It ran for 5 years, up to when he sold it and began his new journey.
Much like Chris, Aber shares a similar work life. Leaving college, he immediately started MySpace together with Chris and, right after, jumped to founding Jam City. However, Aber is also a partner at i/o Ventures, starting several months before he co-founded Jam City.
Josh, on the other hand, has a richer background. Before starting Jam City, he served as President of Fox Entertainment, where he assisted the company in purchasing Myspace, developing Hulu, and launching new television networks. At the same time, he oversaw corporate development for Univision, directed MTV Networks, and was recognized as one of SoCalTech's 50 Most Influential People in the region's technology sector.
Jam City Full Speed Ahead
With MySpace setting its place in history, Chris asked himself what the next challenge could be. Inspired by the world of games, he decided to try his luck there. Why? Chris believed that the gaming world at that time was simple to scale, but he also thought that the present patterns indicated that gaming would take off.
Even while at MySpace, he considered a wide range of ideas about what would come next, including music, specialized video, and gaming. He kept returning to gaming for several reasons, including the shift from PC to mobile, seeing that most teens were using their phones for social networking, gaming, and other things.
And that is when Jam City came to life! Together with Aber and Josh, Chris embarked on a new journey in a world that was not familiar to them. Chris became the CEO, Josh the COO, and Aber the CTO.
However, it was not all smooth sailing. Just like other start-ups, while building the company, the trio faced some challenges, the biggest one being competition. As the gaming world grew, Jam City was not the only offer on the market.
Another thing was locating the blue-ocean opportunity in a congested market. The team had overcome this difficulty by getting in touch with enthusiastic players of that genre and learning what they liked and didn’t like about those games.
But even after creating the games, they were unable to come up with a unique, ground-breaking approach to make the game stand out. The team addressed this challenge from a creative aspect using their Game Thinking approach and toolbox, and they were able to develop and evaluate an interesting, player-centric design.
And just like that, Jam City managed to climb to the top and cement its place as one of the big players.
Getting That Bread
Since the co-founders had prior experience with the enormous growth of businesses, raising funds for Jam City was already a known path for them. Overall, the company has made $652 million over 5 funding rounds. Jam City's first funding round was in 2010, when the company received US$22 million, with Austin Ventures being the lead investor.
Over the years, Jam City has developed a number of games that have increased growth and profit on a large scale. This has embedded trust and interest in other investors willing to cooperate with Jam City.
In 2021, the company finalized the $165 million acquisition of Fremantle's Ludia mobile gaming studio. Jam City obtained $350 million in stock and debt funding for the acquisition from Netmarble, Kabam, and subsidiaries of funds under the management of Fortress Investment Group. This funding round (Venture Round) represents the biggest for Jam City to date.
Previous to this, Jam City subsequently obtained $145 million in strategic financing in 2019 under the direction of a bank syndicate that included joint lead arrangers JPMorgan and Bank of America, Merrill Lynch alongside Silicon Valley Bank, Truist Securities, and CIT Bank.
The Future of Jam City
Today, Jam City is undoubtedly one of the most famous game providers on the market. Its headquarters is in Culver City, California, US, and the company employs over 1,000 people. Packed with stellar graphics, impeccable sounds, and enticing gameplay, Jam City’s games have caught the attention of players all over the world.
As for the future, this gaming company has a lot to unpack for the world to see. The founders believe that there will be a transition toward true ownership in gaming. The association with well-known movie or television properties is what will attract new participants, further boosting Jam City’s name on the market.
What’s more, the company is working on creating and developing blockchain gaming. They have announced a new blockchain games division that will focus on NFTs and the blockchain network, creating a complete wrap-up of everything the digital world has to offer players. The first such game that will pave the way for this is “Champions Ascension” – and the rest is yet to be seen!