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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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April 30, 2008 5:05 PM

SF game startup taps Jeff Bezos

Posted by Brier Dudley

Apparently Amazon.com's not going to start its own casual games network anytime soon.

At least that's one way to read the news that Jeff Bezos is personally investing $3 million in Kongregate, a San Francisco online gaming network tailored to young and mostly male gamers. The money from his investment outfit,Bezos Expeditions, is on top of $6 million the company raised earlier from angel investors, including LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, who made the connection with Bezos.

Bezos is careful to be sure his personal ventures don't overlap with Amazon's, and Kongregate had to be sure it wouldn't be doing anything with the company before taking the funding, according to Jim Greer, the startup's co-founder and chief executive officer.

Greer worked at casual games giant Pogo before starting Kongregate in June 2006. The site is ad-funded but it's exploring microtransactions and hosted multiplayer games as new ways to make money. It's also preparing to launch several Facebook applications.

Kongregate's site is growing 25 percent a month and draws more than 3 million visitors a month to play games mostly submitted by amateur developers. Its 15 employees are mostly in San Francisco, but it also has a five-person engineering team in Portland.

Here's a screenshot of its upcoming Facebook application:

kongregate lost image.png

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.