OUYA update: launch delayed, Bing Gordon joins the board, and a new $15 million investment

May 9, 2013
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OUYA

There’s been some good news and bad news today for fans of the $99 OUYA Android gaming console. The good news: venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has led an investment drive worth $15 million for the project. As part of the deal ex-Chief Creative Officer of EA Bing Gordon will be joining the company’s board of directors.

The bad news: the console’s launch date will be pushed back from its scheduled June 4 retail release until June 25. It’s not a total disaster, just more of a mild irritation for those itching to get their hands on their OUYA.

Three weeks isn’t too long to wait, but surprisingly the decision to delay the entire launch doesn’t appear to be caused by a technical issue or problems with the console. Instead, it turns out that they simply can’t make enough of them. Here’s the statement from OUYA regarding the delay:

in order to meet their greater than expected demand, we decided to shift the launch date by a couple of weeks – three weeks – which will allow us to create more units and, basically, have more units on store shelves in June.

An interesting business decision if you ask me, and I can’t help but wonder whether or not the real issue lies in the defective controllers. Early adopters have been reporting that some of the controller’s buttons can become stuck underneath the faceplate. Fortunately, the problem has already been addressed, and all the new units will ship with the new fixed controllers.

OUYA controller

The new controller keeps the existing design, the button holes have just been made larger to prevent them from sticking.

But that’s enough of the bad news, let’s look at what this new $15 million investment means for the up and coming console manufacturer. The investment firm KPCB, of which Bing Gordon is a member, along with participation from the Mayfield Fund, NVIDIA, Shasta Ventures, and Occam Partners, has put together a fund designed to support game development on OUYA. As well as the $8.5 million raised by Kickstarter backers, Julie Urhman, OUYA’s co-founder, confirmed that the investment would be used to bring exclusive titles to the console and to support small developers.

As already mentioned, the addition of Bing Gordon to the board of directors will no doubt bring a wealth of important connections to OUYA, thanks to his years of experience in the industry. This will be essential for capturing developer interest and securing distribution deals with retailers.

You’ll probably have also noted that NVIDIA continues to lend support to the project, which could prove to be a big opportunity for the company considering that it failed to secure hardware contracts for the next-generation PlayStation, and is rumoured to be missing out on the new Xbox console as well.

Waiting a little longer is sure to irritate eager fans a little, and that’s understandable. But ensuring that the launch goes well, making the right connections with retailers, and supporting developers is what’s going to determine OUYA’s long term success, and that’s surely worth the extra wait.

Show Press Release

OUYA RAISES $15 MILLION IN NEW FUNDING; KLEINER PERKINS PARTNER AND
VIDEOGAME EXECUTIVE BING GORDON JOINS BOARD
Funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Mayfield Fund, and Others Will Support OUYA’s
Video Game Developer Ecosystem and Expand Production
LOS ANGELES – May 09, 2013 – Video game startup OUYA today announced $15 million in new funding led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), with participation from the Mayfield Fund, NVIDIA, Shasta Ventures, and Occam Partners. The company intends to use the additional funding to support OUYA’s growing game development community, and meet increased demand for the upcoming retail launch. KPCB General Partner Bing Gordon will join the company’s board of directors, which also includes Julie Uhrman, OUYA founder and CEO, and Roy Bahat, chairman of the Board.

OUYA’s vision for a new kind of game console, open to all game developers, was brought to life through the support of early backers who crowdfunded the initial product development on Kickstarter. The crowdfunding effort set Kickstarter records, and delivered $8.6 million –almost nine times the target raise — signaling strong consumer demand for the console. Venture funding validates the business strategy.

“We want OUYA to be here for a long time to come,” said Uhrman. “The message is clear: people want OUYA. We first heard this from Kickstarter backers who provided more than $8 million to help us build

OUYA, then from over 12,000 developers who have registered to make an OUYA game, next from retailers who are carrying OUYA online and soon on store shelves, and now from top pioneering investors.”

Before joining KPCB where Gordon is focused on digital investments, he was a long-time executive at Electronic Arts, beginning with EA’s founding in 1982 which had initial funding from KPCB. As an OUYA board member, Gordon will advise the company as it scales its development community and executes its retail strategy and product development plans. Gordon also serves on the board of directors of Amazon, Klout, Lockerz, MEVIO, Zazzle and Zynga.

“OUYA’s open source platform creates a new world of opportunity for established and emerging independent game creators and gamers alike,” said Gordon. “There are some types of games that can only be experienced on a TV, and OUYA is squarely focused on bringing back the living room gaming experience. OUYA will allow game developers to unleash their most creative ideas and satisfy gamers craving a new kind of experience.”

OUYA’s appeal lies in its unique philosophy within the console market. On OUYA, every game is free to try, and any developer can publish a game. OUYA is powerful enough to run 3D games in beautiful 1080p HD with its NVIDIA Tegra-3 processor, and open enough to invite game developers to bring their most creative inventions back to the television. More than 12,000 game creators worldwide have registered to make an OUYA game, from AAA studios to new entrants, including Square Enix, Inc., Double Fine Productions, Tripwire Interactive, Vlambeer, Kim Swift’s Airtight Games, Mighty Rabbit Studios, nWay, Polytron Corporation, and many others.

OUYA is now shipping exclusively to early backers as part of a preview program. On June 25th, OUYA will be available for purchase in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. through retailers Amazon, Best Buy, GAME, GameStop, and Target, and on OUYA.tv for $99.99. Additional controllers will retail for $49.99. Through these retailers, consumers can pre-order OUYA today.

About OUYA
OUYA is building a new kind of video game experience for the television. Created in 2012 by video game industry veteran Julie Uhrman, OUYA is bringing the most exciting, creative, and inventive free-to-try game play experiences to life – in 1080p HD – for $99. Uhrman and an initial team of game developers and industry advisors brought the concept to life with the help of award-winning designer Yves Behar.

OUYA is currently available for pre-order at retailers in the U.S., U.K. and Canada, and will be on store shelves on June 25, 2013. Visit ouya.tv for more information.

About Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) has backed entrepreneurs in more than 700 ventures leading to nearly 200 IPOs, over 375,000 jobs and a deep strategic network. The firm has helped build pioneering companies like Align, Amazon, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Genomic Health, Google, Intuit, Juniper Networks, Netscape, Symantec, VeriSign and WebMD. KPCB partners serve on the boards of Amazon, Apple, Bloom Energy, Flipboard, Foundation Medicine, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Nest, Square, Tesaro and Zynga, among others. KPCB accelerates the success of entrepreneurs with a team of partners delivering company-building services including strategy, operational scaling, recruiting, business development, product delivery and marketing communications. The firm invests in all stages from seed and incubation to growth companies. KPCB operates from offices in Menlo Park, San Francisco, Shanghai and Beijing. http://www.kpcb.com

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