• L.A.-based Artie, which began in 2018 as a platform to help game publishers build AI-enhanced video game characters but shifted its focus to enabling a distribution method that allows game publishers to circumvent app stores, has reopened its seed round.
  • The company plans to go to market later this year with celebrity and IP partnerships, then start attracting third-party game publishers and players to its platform with its distribution technology. In the long run it hopes to grow its user base with its original focus of AI-for-gaming features.
  • Artie has raised $8 million from investors, including the founders of Zynga, Shutterstock and YouTube; Warner Music Group; Jeffrey Katzenberg's WndrCo; and three L.A.-based venture firms including Scooter Braun's Raised In Space.

In late 2018, Ryan Horrigan and Armando Kirwin set out to bring to life video game characters who could see and understand and interact with the gamers on the other side of the screen. They quickly recognized a problem that has now taken the tech world by storm: App stores create friction.

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Carbonated, Inc., an El Segundo-based mobile gaming studio, announced Friday it raised $8.5 million in a seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz, Golden Ventures and Bitkraft Esports Ventures Management.

Founded in 2015, the company develops competitive multiplayer games for cell phones using AI and a live-ops platform they've built called "Carbyne." The technology, its CEO said, makes mobile the gaming experience easier — even when using one hand.

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A teenage boy holed up in his basement may be the image most people associate with gamers, but lifelong game-player Jill Wilson thinks the new face may be women on their cell phones looking to release a little stress.

Wilson, the company's founder, is trying to build a new genre called "lifestyle gaming" and she just got a big boost having raised $7 million in an oversubscribed seed round led by LVP along with backers from 1Up Ventures, Alpha Edison, Everblue Management, firstminute Capital, Greycroft Tracker Fund, Hearst Ventures and Third Kind Venture Capital.

"The concept itself is actually a new category of digital entertainment because it's not squarely in mobile gaming and it's not squarely in existing lifestyle content," Wilson said. "It's Pinterest meets mobile gaming."

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