Written On 5/19/11 :
The news that former 888.com chief executive Gigi Levy is among the investors in the Israeli internet social gaming start-up Playtika continues to make headlines in industry media.
Harrah's buy-in for 51 percent of the company, representing value of some $80-$90 million, is reportedly the largest acquisition yet of an Israeli online gambling firm, and a multi-million dollar bet on an internet start-up that has yet to prove itself.
The founders of the company are young entrepreneurs with influence, among them Uri Shahak, son of former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak. He co-founded Playtika with Robert Antokol, who previously founded Cmate SA, which he sold to Oberon Media Inc. six years ago, according to the Israeli business journal Globes..
Perhaps more pertinently, Shahak previously served as senior games manager at 888 Holding plc.
Antokol is Playteka CEO and Shahak is its COO.
The Globe report reveals that Shahak is the main mover and shaker who persuaded online gambling leaders like Levi to invest in the Playtika project. Levi was joined by 888 investor Ofer Lezovsky, and former Empire Online VP marketing Avner Yasur, as well as real estate developer Igal Ahouvi, Yariv Gilat, Dafna Weiss, and Domaine du Castel winery founder Eli Ben-Zaken.
Playtika reportedly raised about $1 million in investment capital, but the company has yet to prove itself. It was incorporated a year ago, and began marketing its products six months later.
Globe reporters claim that unidentified sources have revealed a monthly turnover of around $100,000, or $1.2 million a year, and the company does not yet have a positive cash flow from operations.
Marketing has thus far been minimal, and the potential for expansion on the back of a solid marketing effort is therefore considerable.
"Playtika does not call itself an online gambling company, but an online games company that develops games for use on social websites, such as Facebook and its Russian counterpart Vkontakte," Globe reports. "The company has grown rapidly thanks to the burgeoning popularity of social networks."