Gizmoz Raises $6.5 Million

Mon Mar 17, 2008 12:00pm GMT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

DoCoMo Capital Leads Series B Round, with Investments from ngi capital, inc.,
Benchmark Capital and Columbia Capital

SAN FRANCISCO, March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Gizmoz, http://www.gizmoz.com, a
social expression and user-generated media service, today announced that the
company raised $6.5 million in Series B financing. The investment was led by
DoCoMo Capital, Inc., a subsidiary of Japan's largest cellular phone service
operator, with additional funding from ngi capital, inc., a subsidiary of ngi
group, inc., and a leading venture capital firm in Japan. Series A investors
Benchmark Capital and Columbia Capital also participated in the round. Gizmoz
will use its strategic round to fund expansion into Asia starting with Japan,
a market that leads the world in mobile Internet adoption.
    "Gizmoz has done an excellent job of creating a social media platform for
user-generated content that is unlike anything that exists in the world
today," said Nobuyuki Akimoto, president and chief executive officer of DoCoMo
Capital. "As it begins its next phase of growth, with an increased emphasis on
cross platform development, Japan represents a large and strategic market for
the company. Gizmoz's offerings come at an opportune time in the development
of Japan's extensive mobile ecosystem, and they should feed the strong desire
of Japanese consumers to embrace innovative content enhanced by Gizmoz's
technology."
    Early last year Gizmoz launched a free online service that allows
consumers to express themselves across a range of digital communications. Key
accomplishments to date include:
    -- AOL Partnership to Introduce Gizmoz Characters to Millions of New Users

       Effective today, consumers using AOL's AIM service, the largest instant
       messaging community in the U.S., can now create AIM Gizmoz Expressions.
       These 3D, talking Gizmoz characters can be used to better personalize
       chat communications. (See separate release, "Gizmoz Delivers 3D Gizmoz
       Characters to AOL's AIM Users.")

    -- Expanded Offerings to Allow Creative Character Deployment

       In November, the company expanded its popular 3D photorealistic service
       by allowing consumers to embed Gizmoz characters into movie clips. Its
       Be a Star service lets users enjoy the fun and fame of sharing the Big
       Screen with their favorite actors. More recently, Gizmoz launched In
       Your Face, a Facebook application that sends highly-interactive,
       animated voice messages to members of the popular social networking
       community, allowing them to visually poke, egg, beautify or vanish
       their friends in a fun and hilarious way. Additionally, the
       distribution of Gizmoz characters via email, and throughout Bebo,
       MySpace, Orkut, Hi5, and other online communities, continues to grow
       rapidly.

    -- Innovative User-Generated Campaigns That Capture Elusive Youth

       In September, Gizmoz took consumer-generated TV advertising to a new
       level by partnering with Taco Bell to allow consumers to try out for,
       and star in, a nationally-broadcast commercial aired during the MTV
       video music award. In less than two weeks, consumers created more than
       17,000 Gizmoz clips, which were viewed more than one million times.
       Last month Gizmoz teamed up with ad agency Gringo to develop a new Coca
       Cola Zero online campaign in Brazil. Consumers are invited into the
       Coca Cola Zero Rest Home where crazy things happen to their Gizmoz
       characters, http://cocacolazero.com.br. Gizmoz is actively working with
       advertising agencies and leading consumer goods companies throughout
       the world to develop breakthrough branded campaigns that speak to the
       increasingly hard-to-reach youth audience.


    "Gizmoz has enjoyed widespread adoption by consumers, advertisers and
media partners over the last year, and with a number of exciting new products,
programs and partnerships underway, the company is poised for significant
expansion in 2008," said Eyal Gever, chief executive officer and founder of
Gizmoz. "As we move forward on a number of key initiatives, building cross
platform synergies into our service is at the top of the list. To pursue our
strategy, Asia will be key. This financing will play an important role in
helping us develop unique offerings for this market."
    About DoCoMo Capital
    DoCoMo Capital, Inc. is a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary of NTT DoCoMo, Inc.
(NYSE: DCM), the leading wireless network operator based in Japan. Working
closely with NTT DoCoMo's business and R&D divisions, DoCoMo Capital is in
charge of NTT DoCoMo's strategic investments in mobile communications related
start-up companies mainly in the United States. For more information, visit
http://www.docomo-capital.com.
    About ngi capital, inc.
    ngi capital, inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of ngi group, inc. (Tokyo
Stock Exchange Mothers: 2497), a leading investor in and operator of Internet
and mobile phone companies, including mixi, inc., the largest social network
in Japan. ngi capital invests in early to seed stage companies both
domestically and internationally. For more information, visit
http://www.ngicapital.com.
    About Gizmoz
    Founded in 2003, Gizmoz offers consumers a new generation of
character-based visual expression for use across their digital lives. The
Gizmoz service makes it easy to create, customize, animate and share
photorealistic 3D talking characters and videos that allow consumers to
communicate and express themselves in more realistic and imaginative ways.
Gizmoz is funded by Benchmark Capital, Columbia Capital, DoCoMo Capital, ngi
capital, inc., and Jagen, with offices in Menlo Park, CA and Israel. For more
information, visit http://www.gizmoz.com.
SOURCE  Gizmoz

Stephanie Gnibus of GMK Communications, +1-408-776-9727,
stephanie@gmkcommunications.com, for Gizmoz
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.