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Gamesville founder Steve Kane raising money for new game start-up, LuckyLabs

Posted by Scott Kirsner  May 16, 2011 12:17 PM

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Steve Kane, the Brookline entrepreneur who built and sold one of the pioneers of online "casual" gaming back in the dot-com heyday, has a new venture: LuckyLabs. He's currently raising about $1 million in funding for the start-up, and while he wouldn't talk specifically about who has committed to invest, the Cambridge company is already listed as part of Atlas Venture's portfolio.

LuckyLabs' clever motto is, "If you're going to squander your life, please, do it with us."

"For the vast majority of the last 17 years, I've been in digital games," Kane says. "I'm kind of a one-trick pony, but it's a pretty good trick." After selling Gamesville to Lycos for $207 million in 1999, Kane started GameLogic, which built casino-style online games intended to help generate revenue for casino operators. It was acquired for an undisclosed sum last year, by Scientific Games, after raising north of $26 million in venture capital funding.

Kane's co-founder at LuckyLabs is Noah Jessop, formerly an associate at the Cambridge venture capital firm IncTANK Ventures. The start-up has just two other employees.

Kane says the company is set up to develop multiple games, with various business models. "We're business model agnostic," he says. "Virtual goods, advertising, database marketing — they're all interesting." The company will develop games for mobile phones, tablets, and the Web, but will stay away from console games. "We want to make bite-sized entertainment, not games that require a big time investment," Kane says. "You need to look at it and start playing it immediately, or we've failed."

Among the games Kane says he has been enjoying lately: Angry Birds, Zynga Poker, Words With Friends, and GSN's Games app on Facebook.

LuckyLabs' Web site suggests that the company's first game will be called "Poke Roulette," for the iPhone. The description: "Missing the good old days of the poke wars? Wish you could poke anywhere anytime? Love the thrill of interacting with random strangers? Try PokeRoulette."

Kane is on Twitter as @stevenkane.

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Innovation and technology news that matters, on a new website from the Boston Globe, featuring Scott Kirsner and other original reporting.

About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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