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Games Site Lands VC Funding, Aims To Expand Brand

Games Site Lands VC Funding, Aims To Expand Brand

By TRAVIS PURSER

Staff Reporter

Zorik Gordon wants to build the next eBay.

While he won’t be going head to head with the online auction behemoth, he sees its business model as one worth emulating in his three-year-old Internet games site, WorldWinner Inc.

WorldWinner.com, where for a fee players play against other users for cash and merchandise prizes, has just landed $9.2 million in its third round of venture financing, led by Benchmark Capital of Menlo Park.

Benchmark, which has backed an array of technology businesses including eBay, Palm Inc. and RedHat Software, has a 35 percent stake in the company and installed partner Robert Kagle on WorldWinner’s board.

Gordon, president of the Marina del Rey-based company, said the new round of financing brings the amount raised this year to $17.5 million and $20 million since its inception in 1999. The money will be used to market the WorldWinner name and round out its technical and management team, he said.

Alex Saidakovsky, Daniil Utin and Alex Ganelis developed the idea while students at Brandeis University. Ganelis and Saidakovsky remain on the board.

Gordon, who co-founded Jackpot.com prior to joining WorldWinner, wants to attract more visitors directly to the Web site as opposed to distributing the service through portals like Lycos. “Partnerships got us to where we are today, but partners can only do so much for you,” he said.

WorldWinner’s site offers a smorgasbord of games of skill, including solitaire, word games and mah-jongg.

Benchmark contributed $8 million to the third round of financing, with the remaining $1.2 million coming from Zero Stage Capital, HarbourVest Partners and CommonAngels.

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