Kiip Poaches Zynga Exec to Grow Beyond Games

Manny Anekal, former Global Director of Brand Advertising at Zynga, is leaving the social gaming giant to step into a COO role at rewards startup Kiip. Kiip, which got its start rewarding gamers with real-world goods, told us that Anekal will be instrumental in helping Kiip expand its business model beyond gaming.

Anekal has a track record that speaks for itself: he helped pioneer in-game ads at advertising network Massive prior to its acquisition in 2006 by Microsoft, headed up the lucrative ads division at Electronic Arts, and helped make in-game rewards for clicking on ads a go-to method for mobile advertising incentivization. Kiip raised $4 million in funding last April in a round that included Path’s Dave Morin and True Ventures, among others.

Anekal is a great fit for Kiip, CEO and founder Brian Wong told us in an interview. “It’s almost as if it was meant to be,” Wong said. “When you look at his experience… he helped showcase that advertising really is a meaningful revenue stream for massive gaming or activity-generating audience like a social games company.” Wong said that his company is at the intersection of where the next major monetizing opportunity for large audiences will be, and he believes Anekal will be instrumental in helping Kiip make meaningful partnerships with brands to help them reach those audiences.

“We’ve created a platform, a layer that enables rewards for any type of achievement, any type of action, any type of behavior,” Wong said, but he suggested that besides though they’ve started with games, that’s not where they plan to stop. “Achievements obviously don’t just exist in games. It would be a huge mistake for us not to be as ubiquitous as we could possibly be.”

Wong wouldn’t comment about specific areas where Kiip plans to expand next, but he did agree that Anekal is definitely a big part of that expansion strategy.

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