Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO), Google Inc (GOOG): Marissa Mayer & Gaming Acquisitions

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To paraphrase 50 Cent, Marissa Mayer loves acquisitions like a fat kid loves cake. Before the financial gurus finished breaking down Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO)’s Tumblr acquisition, Mayer went ahead and snatched up the cross-platform gaming backend PlayerScale – the company’s sixth acquisition in May.

yahoo-tumblrThe acquisition gives Yahoo! a foothold in mobile gaming helping fill a gaping hole in Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO)’s mobile portfolio. At the same time, the data the company gains access to integrates nicely with the Tumblr platform it just bought.

150 million users

PlayerScale, founded in 2011, provides tools and analytics to help some 2,600 game developers scale their games across multiple platforms such as iOS, Android, and the web. It also offers tools to manage an entire game ecosystem from profiles to payments to multiplayer matching.

So far, the service has 4,000 titles in its portfolio played by more than 150 million users. In the last four months, the company has increased its daily growth rate by more than 60%, and is adding an average of 400,000 new gamers every day.

Interestingly, this acquisition came just a week after Google announced better tools for Android game developers. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) announced new game-save utilities that allow users to save on one device, and resume on another (a feature previously seen in PlayerScale). Additionally, it added multiplayer, leaderboard, and profile tools to its developer platform.

While Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is, surprisingly, late to the game in adding these features, it benefits from the massive scale of its Android ecosystem. Google claims to have 900 million activated Android devices around the world.

Still, PlayerScale has accelerated its growth even in the face of similar features from Apple and Amazon’s gaming platforms. It remains ahead of the curve, and well ahead of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), in providing its developers with the most innovative features and important data.

Data, data, data

PlayerScale collects loads of data to provide to its clients. It has tools that help developers analyze user behaviors and track monetization strategies. These data are invaluable to the developers as it allows them to make their games more profitable, but also develop new engaging games more quickly.

As a result, PlayerScale’s portfolio of games is quickly expanding, which leads to more people playing the games it helps facilitate. That’s why Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) is leaving PlayerScale alone, adopting the same “We promise not to screw it up” approach it took with Tumblr. Shutting it down and fully integrating the company into Yahoo! would stymie its growth, just as its starting to accelerate.

The value Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) can unlock from PlayerScale, though, is in the same data it provides to developers. The data give Yahoo! feedback on in-game purchases and effective advertisements. As a company that generates its revenue through advertising, not just in games and apps, but throughout the web, Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) can use these data to better target viewers of its online content as well.

Integration with Tumblr

The average age of mobile gamers and Tumblr users correspond quite nicely. Both skew toward younger audiences aged 25 and under.

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