Angry Birds creators Rovio swoop in on US$42m investment

10 Mar 2011

Rovio, the creator of the massively popular Angry Birds app game, has raised US$42m from venture capital firms Felicis, Accel Partners and Skype founders’ Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis’ London-based Atomico.

The Finland-based company had been courted by a number of investors before accepting the Series A funding from Atomico, Felicis and Accel.

Angry Birds has flown its original coop since its inception as an iPhone game: It’s been ported to Android, Palm and Nokia; been spun in multiple versions; and become available on PCs, PSP/PS3 and Windows 7 Phone, and even inspired a movie and animated series. A 3D version is also in the works.

And last week it emerged it is coming to Facebook and will also launch on consoles later in the year.

It is understood the company has already netted US$50m in revenues from 75m downloads of the game across the various platforms.

Rovio said it has ambitious plans the investors endorse and will facilitate. The investment will transform Rovio’s growth, allowing it to increase its reach internationally, and across markets, including mobile, social media and other platforms, and via merchandising and media production and partnerships.

A whole new entertainment franchise

“With Angry Birds, we have successfully launched not only a strong new brand, but also a whole new entertainment franchise,” said Mikael Hed, CEO and co-founder of Rovio.

Angry Birds will continue to grow, and we aim to create more similar success stories. We will strengthen the position of Rovio and continue building our franchises in gaming, merchandising and broadcast media.”

“The proliferation of touchscreen smartphones and tablets has lead to a huge growth in demand for mobile entertainment,” said Rich Wong, partner at Accel Partners. “These growth trends are changing the entire media field, and Rovio is perfectly positioned to drive this change. We believe this is just the beginning.”

Skype founder Niklas Zennström, who also co-founded Kazaa and Rdio, will be joining the board of Rovio.

“This investment will give Rovio wings,” said Zennström, CEO and founder of Atomico. “The company has an outstanding management team and is a category winner with huge potential, making it precisely the kind of company we like to back.

Angry Birds is one of the fastest-growing online products I’ve seen, growing even faster than Skype, and the company has done a brilliant job of extending it across different platforms and merchandise. I’m really looking forward to joining the board, and helping the team to fulfil its ambitions.”

Rovio recently announced that sales of Angry Birds plush toys have passed 2m units. The commitment and retention rate of Angry Birds fans remains high, as does the demand for Angry Birds virtual goods: 40pc of new customers on the iOS platform purchase the Mighty Eagle downloadable content.

Rovio has been expanding steadily through 2010 and 2011, and has 50 employees in Espoo, Finland.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years