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Jolt game has raised $ 2.6 million to expand its social platform where millions of Generation Z gamers and creators share and discover content around their favorite video games.
The funding round marks a great milestone for a company that has come a long way and stands out for having a CEO and husband and wife leadership.
The Seattle-based company was founded by David DeCarmine in 2002, when he was 14 years old in New York. A self-taught programmer, he created Game Jolt (under a different name) as a place where gamers could discover and play independent games and enjoy each other’s company on forums and chat rooms. It grew slowly.
“Back then, it was just a bunch of hobbyists making games,” CEO Yaprak DeCarmine said in an interview with GamesBeat. “It really started as a kind of parallel passion project. But here we are. Game Jolt has seen tremendous growth since then. “
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David DeCarmine met his future wife, Yaprak DeCarmine, while playing and working at tech startup Zulily. Yaprak grew up in Turkey and immigrated to the United States. She had become a fan playing with her older brother. And he learned to speak English in part by playing video games. They got married in 2014 and Yaprak convinced David that they should quit their jobs to work full time at Game Jolt.
That was a terrifying time to take that leap, without much of a safety net. That year was the heyday of GamerGate, and as a woman, Yaprak DeCarmine felt quite vulnerable managing a community gaming site.
Eventually she decided that she would be more of a public person and “would be a positive force in this industry, so that other women and girls can enter the industry because they will see me here.”
Now Game Jolt has become a collection of player-started communities. There are over 40,000 of them, and the largest Game Jolt communities exceed 500,000 people. In general, the number of users is in the millions. But the communities are not what you would expect based on the popularity of the games. For example, Five Nights at Freddy’s has a much larger community than Call of Duty: Warzone.
“The industry evolved and our platform also went through a great transition,” said Yaprak DeCarmine. “We were always a place for the players in front of one more store. So, the players on our platform just started sharing their content and increasing their following. Today, we are building a social community platform for gamers and the types of content they love. So what we saw is that the players are the ones creating most of the content. They love to create fan art of their favorite video game characters, they record videos of themselves playing or playing games with their friends. They write guides and review the games they are playing so they can have those meaningful discussions. “
And while other platforms have communities, it’s not easy to post the things players create in those places, Yaprak DeCarmine said. The company has built in-house moderation tools with enough automation for the team to be able to moderate millions of people who log in each month. Users can report offensive content and the company can take care of it. The company is also investing in machine learning.
Its mission is to evolve and become something like TikTok for gamers. Game Jolt will use the capital to create in-app live streaming, visibility and monetization for its game-based content creators. It’s very different from some of the other gamer communities like Discord, Twitch, Reddit, and others.
Acequia Capital led the investment round together with Madrona Venture Group, Graph Ventures and Inventures Collective. Tech leaders, including the founders of Twitch (Kevin Lin), Rec Room (Nick Fajt), and Mod.io, joined the round.
Hank Vigil of Acequia Capital said in a statement: “Yaprak and David are inspired and deeply connected with the fast-paced energy of the gaming movement, especially with the newer generation of gamers who are digital and social from day one. We share their vision and enthusiasm and look forward to helping them make Game Jolt the No. 1 community platform for gamers. “
SoftBank gave the company its first round of funding through an accelerator program for underrepresented founders. And the company was able to raise its latest round of funding in a matter of weeks.
The company has beta versions of its iOS and Android platforms, and plans to officially release them later this year. But the mobile versions are already accumulating many users. The company has 10 employees.
“We are definitely on cloud nine,” Yaprak DeCarmine said. “This is no longer just our favorite project. This is crazy. “
Women-run gaming companies
I took a minute to think about today’s gaming companies founded or run by women. I came up with Team17, Kabam, AviaGames, Romero Games, Elodie Games, Kongregate, Game Jolt, Double Loop Games, Byju’s, DMarket, Carry1st, Glass Bottom Games, XEO Design, Media Molecule, 343 Industries, Kitfox, Funomena, Arkadium, Maestro Games and Transmission Gaming. (I’m sure I’ve missed a few. Let me know more on social media. Glad to hear we’ve written about many of these companies.)
“The games industry has also grown, as a $ 175 billion industry and three billion gamers in the world,” said Yaprak DeCarmine. “I really want us to become the audience for the entire games industry. That’s a crazy goal, but I’m excited for it. “
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