Raptr Inc. has 46 million gamers using its technology to optimize graphics and processing speeds on their PCs. It has partnerships with Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. to ensure its software leverages the newest chip technologies. And it has revenue from advertisers, to the tune of several million dollars last year.
Now, the eight-year-old company has raised $14 million in a round led by Accel Partners with participation from the venture arm of longtime strategic partner AMD to do much more. The financing valued Raptr at more than $170 million, VentureWire has learned.
Raptr’s goal is to create an Instagram of sorts for its users, enabling them to record, edit and share key moments of their game play with fellow gamers on a new network called Plays.tv.
Although the Mountain View, Calif.-based startup has enabled users to record gaming highlights for nearly a year now, it officially launched Plays.tv on Tuesday and announced the fresh funding to support its expansion.
While the premise is hardly new–fan-generated gaming content represents 98% of all gaming content on YouTube while sites like Twitch and Kamcord were created specifically for gamers to share their content–Raptr has something different in mind.
It is only focused on PC gaming, a platform that is expected to grow 33% to reach $35 billion in 2018, according to data released in March by the industry nonprofit Open Gaming Alliance. Kamcord is focused exclusively on mobile games.
And unlike Twitch, which specializes in live-streaming experienced gamers with large followings, Raptr is targeting amateur gamers to record and share their top moments.
“This allows everyone to be a pro gamer. Everyone has at least one or two good moves,” said Ping Li, a partner at Accel, which has backing Raptr since 2008.
Mr. Li said Raptr has already done much of the hard technical work. Seeing recent rapid adoption–users have more than doubled from 19 million a year ago–continuing to support the startup was logical, he said.
Gamers download Raptr’s software which ensures the latest drivers for AMD and Nvidia hardware are installed and the game settings are adjusted for every PC configuration. The goal is to optimize the PC settings for each game for the best playing experience.
The Raptr software, as well as the lighter-weight Plays.tv software, enables users to retroactively record their gaming highlights for up to 20 minutes. Players can then edit and share those moments via Twitter, Facebook , YouTube and Plays.tv. Degraded graphics and latency, both major concerns in “League of Legends,” “Battlefield 4” and others that require quick reaction times to succeed, isn’t an issue when Raptr is recording, according to Raptr co-founder and Chief Executive Dennis Fong.
Mr. Fong, a passionate PC gamer who won a Ferrari for his work playing “Quake” at the age of 19, founded Raptr because he believed optimizing PC settings for each game should be automatic and painless. Raptr is free to users and generates revenue from ads.
Now adding new users at the rate of 2 million a month, his startup is at what Mr. Fong says could be a major inflection point. He should know, considering he previously co-founded social enterprise software company Lithium Technologies Inc., online gaming tool Xfire, and games portal Gamers.com.
Mr. Fong says he’s confident that amateur gamers are hungry for a dedicated place such as Plays.tv where they can share their triumphs and fails with like-minded people. What he is less sure of, is the scope and specific setbacks still in store.
“Ideas are a dime a dozen. We’re launching a new service and there’s no guarantee,” Mr. Fong said. “I don’t take anything for granted. Everything is hard.”
New investor AMD Ventures joined prior backers Accel Partners, DAG Ventures and Tenaya Capital in the Series D infusion, boosts total outside funding to $41 million.
Along with expanding the new Plays.tv service, Raptr will use the funds to expand its staff to 75 or so from the existing 50 by the end of 2015.