This will see the company make a major commitment to develop proprietary game content, with online elements as a key part of the gaming experience across next-generation consoles and PC. Codemasters will also target new distribution formats, such as mobile applications, Internet and massively multiplayer online [MMO] products.
The investment will also be used to strengthen the company's sales and marketing activities and for acquiring third party licenses and game titles. Additionally, Codemasters will continue its expansion into new territories for its international publishing operations.
"Benchmark is a great partner for Codemasters," says David Darling, Codemasters' Chairman & CEO, "The Benchmark team shares our ambition for quality, innovation and making online a major element of the gaming experience. We are very pleased to welcome Benchmark to this business and the exciting world of video games. Codemasters has grown organically to become the largest privately owned video games publisher in Europe. Benchmark's investment and also importantly the involvement of Benchmark's highly talented team, will now provide the perfect opportunity for Codemasters' next growth phase."
The 40% acquisition of Codemasters is the first for Benchmark Europe partner Ynon Kreiz since his joining the firm earlier this year.
Ynon Kreiz of Benchmark Capital Europe, comments:
"Codemasters has consistently demonstrated for over 18 years that it has the skill and capacity to produce very high quality interactive entertainment and successfully operate as an independent player in a very competitive and dynamic landscape. We were attracted to the company by its heritage of great management, creativity, innovation and ambition to push boundaries. Benchmark is proud to have an active role in Codemasters' future success."
Codemasters has a successful track record with more than 60 No.1 hits and a distribution network covering over 70 countries worldwide. The company earned a reputation for delivering quality interactive entertainment product through such major blockbusting gaming brands as Colin McRae RallyTM, TOCA / DTM / V8 Race DriverTM, LMA ManagerTM, Operation FlashpointTM and Brian Lara CricketTM. Codemasters employs 400 people and is headquartered in Warwickshire, UK. The company also maintains European operations in Germany, France, Spain, and Benelux and has its US headquarters in New York.
Benchmark Capital was founded in 1995. With more than $2.7 billion in committed venture capital, Benchmark Capital's aim is to help talented entrepreneurs build great technology companies focused on long-term growth.
Benchmark's portfolio includes franchise companies such as Alphyra (the leading pan European electronic payments provider), Betfair (the world's largest online betting company), eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY), Juniper Networks (Nasdaq: JNPR), Sulake (the "Habbo Hotel" leading online games community, founded in Finland), Red Hat (Nasdaq: RHAT) and Zopa (the online exchange for direct loans between lenders and borrowers). Since setting up a European operation in May 2000, Benchmark has made more than 30 investments across a variety of market sectors and geographies. Benchmark Capital Europe manages two funds of $500 million and $375 million.