CrowdStar is in the midst of a growth spurt as it expands its presence in the Japanese social games market and keeps growing on Facebook.
Japan is one of the world's biggest social game markets. Users there have shown a high propensity not only to try free social games but to buy virtual goods within them as well, said Peter Relan, executive chairman of CrowdStar, in an interview.
Spurred by the success of Happy Aquarium on Facebook a year ago, the Burlingame, Calif.-based company has now grown to nearly 100 employees, adding about 75 so far this year. With the launch of two new Facebook games in September, CrowdStar has passed Electronic Arts (Playfish) and moved into a solid No. 2 position, Relan said.
What's remarkable is that CrowdStar has become the No. 2 company behind Zynga on Facebook without taking any funding except its initial investment from incubator YouWeb, headed by Relan. The private company doesn't disclose revenue, but it said that its third-quarter revenue was the highest in the company's history.
According to market researcher AppData, CrowdStar has 57 million monthly active users, compared to 222 million for Zynga and 48 million for No. 3-ranked Electronic Arts. (LOLapps contends it has more than 100 million users, since its quiz and gift apps aren't counted; but Relan says his company's quiz games are also not counted).
The company plans to hire more developers, artists and product managers as it scales up for more releases in the fourth quarter. And CrowdStar plans to release mobile versions of its Facebook games through YouWeb incubator partnerships.
Among CrowdStar's new hires is Pete Hawley, vice president of production and former vice president at Electronic Arts where he led EA's internal social gaming efforts.
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