Cape's ChessCube gets $1,25m capital injection from InVenFin
A CAPE Town company that operates an online chess site has received $1,25m in venture capital from InVenFin.
ChessCube.com already has more than 650000 registered users in 207 countries, making it one of the world's most popular online chess sites. Its site teaches people chess and pits experienced players against others around the world.
CEO and founder Mark Levitt said he was delighted to have InVenFin as partner, but would not disclose the size of the minority stake InVenFin took in return for its investment.
As well as the cash injection, InVenFin would give ChessCube access to an international business network, and its experts in branding, product strategy, intellectual property management and corporate structuring. "This investment allows ChessCube to focus on establishing itself as the world leader in online chess."
InVenFin is a subsidiary of VenFin, and invests in start-ups that develop their own intellectual property with a potential for global sales. InVenFin's Stuart Gast said he was impressed by ChessCube's innovative product and strong company team .
"The social gaming space is growing rapidly worldwide, and we believe ChessCube represents an excellent entrance for us into this world. We look forward to assisting ChessCube achieve its aspirations," Gast said.
The website features interactive chess videos written by international grandmasters. Unlike DVDs, the videos offer users some personalised instruction, in a technical innovation that saw ChessCube named as a semi- finalist in last year's Adobe Max Awards in San Francisco.
ChessCube sponsored this year's South African Chess Open in Cape Town, and its technology allowed three grandmasters to take part from Australia over the internet.
It was launched in May 2007 and its total funding to date has been 1,8m, the bulk from InVenFin. Initial funding came from Cape Town entrepreneur Vinny Lingham, who is now the CEO of San Francisco-based Yola.com. Lingham said: "This investment by InVenFin further highlights the potential of Cape Town as the technology hub of Africa - which I like to dub Silicon Cape."
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