Yet another target of Google's shopping list has been revealed , this time Jambool , the producer of Social Gold, a payment product that allows developers to build a payment system directly into their applications. The purchase price is a rumored $55 million dollars, with an additional sum on earnout.
Founded in 2006, San Francisco-based Jambool is the brainchild of Vikas Gupta , a former Amazon employee whose creations include the Send Good Karma and Hug Me apps. Jambool's Social Gold provides three APIs: Virtual Currency, with which developers can create virtual currencies for transactions and payments in virtual economies; Payments, which handles virtual transactions; and Subscriptions, which provides functionality for allowing users to subscribe to an application or website. Social Gold does not sell its product, but leases it, taking 6-10% of transactions in fees. Current clients of Social Gold include Playdom, Games2Win, Tagged, and Avatar Reality. Earlier this year the company was an AlwaysOn Global 250 winner in the "Enabling Tools and Devices" category.
The purchase reveals something of what Google sees as important for the future. Currently many gaming companies are seeing significant revenue from the sale of virtual goods, and Google's invested or bought into some of the major players, such as Zynga and Slide.
Virtual goods usually fall into one of three categories: gifts that can be sent to other users, decorative goods that allow a user to personalize a virtual space, and functional goods, which provide enhanced functionality such as a power-up in a game. Jeremy Liew of Lightspeed Venture Partners estimated Zynga's 2010 revenue will be $240 million in 2010 - most of it from selling virtual goods.
Google's been on a buying spree lately, signaling a major push into the social network space. What's next on their list? Given the rate at which purchases are being made, we don't have long to wait to find out.