Playing the game Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2009
Finalist
Emerging

It was 12-year-old Arjun Mehta who inspired his father, Karl Mehta, to found PlaySpan Inc.

Arjun, an avid gamer in online multiplayer games, was a strong player in several games, and those in his online community bought virtual goods and currencies from him in the games. Mehta saw the need for a cross-game global commerce and payment platform. Instead of trying to sell $60 games in the online gaming world, his idea was to convince publishers to create free online games, in which he would sell products such as virtual coins, clothing, weapons and other items to use in the game.

With no prior history in gaming and the radical idea of allowing gamers to buy and sell virtual goods, Mehta, PlaySpan’s CEO, initially faced resistance. After 65 venture capitalists turned him down, he invested the seed capital himself to develop a team to build a complete platform from the ground up.

After it was built and three major game publishers agreed to use it, the venture capital poured in. Today, industry players recognize PlaySpan as the most innovative business model in a multibillion-dollar market.

Following that success, Mehta took it a step further. Many gamers are under 18 and, without credit cards, had no way to pay. So he acquired PayByCash, which allows customers to spend cash to buy his virtual items. In addition, parents can buy prepaid cards for their children to make purchases on gaming Web sites.

With its position in the market, PlaySpan is continuing to grow at a rate of more than 100 percent a year, with plans to double its employee base as more developers, publishers and games use its platform to conduct transactions.

In addition, its strong cash position will allow it to grow through acquisitions and take advantage of tough economic conditions.

How to reach: PlaySpan Inc., (408) 617-9155 or www.playspan.com