JAM Fund, the venture capital firm launched by former Tinder chief marketing officer Justin Mateen, secured nearly a quarter of a billion dollars over the summer for a new fund.
Mateen, who co-founded the dating app that brought the world "swipe right" and countless unwelcome sexual solicitations, locked down his first investment for the recent fund on July 16. Since then he's raised at least $247.5 million from 15 undisclosed limited partners, a recent regulatory filing reveals.
The offering described in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing suggests that JAM Fund may raise yet more capital for its second fund. Under his principal place of business, the disclosure lists the Bel Air mansion that Mateen bought from "Full House" star Lori Loughlin and designer Mossimo Giannulli, after the couple became a key focal point in the college admissions scandal.
Mateen did not respond to a request for comment on his plans for the fund.
In addition to his personal deals, Mateen's firm has made 36 investments since August 2018, per CrunchBase, counting at least five startups this past summer. Recent deals include funding for Menlo Park-based restaurant delivery services company Owner.com and Brazil-based Kovi, which rents cars to people who drive for ride apps.
The former CMO was suspended from Tinder in 2014 after co-founder Whitney Wolfe Herd filed a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit against the company, describing Mateen as "verbally controlling and abusive." The suit was settled for "just over $1 million," without admission of wrongdoing, per multiple reports. Mateen was fired from the dating app company that year, a Tinder spokesperson told dot.LA. After this story was published, a spokesperson for Mateen described the nature of his departure differently. "Justin resigned; he was not fired," the spokesperson said. Wolfe went on to create Bumble.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Whitney Wolfe Herd sued Tinder, not Mateen.
Game development can be a grueling task, with designers and engineers working inhumanly long hours to ship games on tight deadlines.
The process is known as crunch, and up until recently, it's been accepted as a necessary evil in the gaming industry -- with triple-A studios justifying the workload with high-selling titles, like Treyarch's "Call of Duty" series or Naughty Dog's "The Last of Us II," which saw employees working more than 12 hours per day.
After years of working at EA Games and its subsidiary DICE, the founders of FuzzyBot Games decided the industry needed to do away with crunch for good.
FuzzyBot Games raised a $3.5 million seed round largely from European investors, it said this week. The funds will be used to begin making its first game, this time with as little crunch as possible.
CEO Tatyana Dyshlova said in a statement that FuzzyBot is trying to do away with the "inflexible high-crunch culture" that most big-name game studios have.
Dyshlova's co-founder and creative director Max Spielberg, worked with her at DICE. FuzzyBot is a team of ten now, and Dyshlova said it'll use most of the funding to hire new developers and grow its team by at least five people.
Sensor Tower analyst Craig Chapple said the pandemic prompted many companies to re-evaluate work-life balance as people began working from home, and that included game developers.
"Development crunch has long been a topic of intense scrutiny in the games industry," Chapple said. "More developers have begun reflecting on best work practices as a result of an unforeseen shift to remote work, since the already complex process of creating games was suddenly upended and new wrinkles were introduced."
Chapple added that employees are more likely to stay in a job where their personal time is valued.
"The increased discourse this has created around crunch will hopefully be to the benefit of hardworking employees, but will also ultimately help companies retain talent," Chapple said.
FuzzyBot wouldn't disclose the title of its upcoming game or when it might release. The company did say it'll be a "long-lasting" title that will mix the combat and repetitive levels of a typical roguelike dungeon crawler game with the typical open-ended choices and progression of a life simulator game, like "Stardew Valley."
Berlin and San Francisco-based BITKRAFT Ventures led the seed round. Finnish investors Sisu Game Ventures and 1Up Ventures, based in Washington, also participated.
Sisu Ventures also backed Finnish company Small Giant Games, which was acquired by San Francisco-based mobile gaming firm Zynga in January 2019.
FuzzyBot is trying to blend two game genres to create a new one, which could either be a risky gamble or very rewarding bet. BITKRAFT Ventures partner Malte Barth told dot.LA he invested because he thinks the former EA team has the chops to shake up the industry.
"FuzzyBot's ambition is to synthesize a new games genre," Barth said. "When a games development company can succeed with such an attempt, it has the potential for significant revenue growth."
Isolation during the pandemic has caused gamers to look increasingly to multiplayer games that heavily feature a social component.
While there's no data for the new genre of games FuzzyBot is targeting, Chapple said subsets of it are gaining steam. Chapple said Sensor Tower measured a roughly 34% increase in players using simulation games on mobile devices during the first half of this year, making it the fifth fastest-growing genre by revenue.
During the first half of 2021, games like "Fortnite" "Roblox," where players can create collaborative worlds, drove spending. On iOS and Android users paid roughly $1.1 billion, driven by in-game purchases in the game.
BITKRAFT wants to go deeper into simulation. It's already backed other social-focused game startups including Manticore Games and Pocket Worlds. It also was an early funder of "Fortnite" developer Epic Games.
FuzzyBot chose European investors because the region values a healthy work-life balance, more than North America. EA is partly based in Sweden, and while working there Dyshlova realized that there could be a better way to make games than endless all-nighters, because the company focused on a no-crunch culture.
"There's a lot of game companies that came out of Sweden, it's a really creative country, but they have this really great balance between leaving work, and then being dedicated to their family, their friends and their hobbies," Dyshlova said. "We happened to connect really well to investors that are based out of Europe and share some of those values."
Fifth Wall, the fast-growing real estate tech venture firm, revealed Monday that it has scored $140 million for its Early-Stage Climate Technology Fund. That's up from $116.8 million earlier this month, when the firm last disclosed its fundraising efforts for the climate investment vehicle in an amended SEC filing.
In December, Fifth Wall announced it had brought in prolific clean-tech investor Greg Smithies to head its efforts to "decarbonize the built world." That's when the firm went public about its plan to raise at least $200 million to invest in climate tech. The firm said today that it has brought in another partner to co-lead its climate team: Peter Gajdoš, the San Francisco-based former head of venture investments for wealth management group IPM.
Last year, Fifth Wall co-founder Brendan Wallace predicted that the real estate industry would one day become "the biggest spender on climate tech for no other reason than its contribution to the carbon problem."
Fifth Wall declined to comment publicly on the fund when reached for comment last week by dot.LA.
With backing from Montreal-based Ivanhoé Cambridge, which holds tens of billions of dollars in real-estate assets, Fifth Wall's climate fund led a $16 million investment in Sealed earlier this year alongside actor Robert Downey Jr's climate fund. Other real estate investors in Fifth Wall's climate fund include Equity Residential, Hudson Pacific Properties, Invitation Homes and Kimco Realty Corporation, Fifth Wall announced Monday.
New York-based Sealed is on "a quest to retrofit the U.S.' existing residential building stock and help them run more efficiently," Smithies wrote in June. Part of that equation involves getting homeowners aboard the heat pump train.
The technology could help American households considerably slash carbon emissions by 142 million metric tons annually, according to research released by Carbon Switch.Sealed is one of at least three startups backed by Smithies in recent months, per the investor's LinkedIn. Others include Austin-based 3D-printed buildings startup Icon, which announced a $207 million late-August raise, and Emeryville-based pea milk company Ripple Foods. It disclosed a more than $57 million raise around the same time.
This story has been updated to include the latest fundraising figures from Fifth Wall.
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