Digital Chocolate’s Trip Hawkins dials into iPhone, Facebook social games

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Trip Hawkins, who founded the video game giant Electronic Arts in 1982, got a busy signal with players on his first try with Digital Chocolate, a mobile game company that he founded in 2003.

Until last year, Hawkins’ San Mateo start-up struggled to grow. Now, with dozens of games on Facebook and iPhones, Digital Chocolate has connected with players in a big way. The company launched 100 apps on Apple’s iTunes last year, garnering more than 50 million downloads. Six of those titles were, at different times, the top-selling app.

On Facebook, the company’s seven games attract more than 2 million players a day. Its top game, Millionaire City, gets about 1.8 million players a day, according to AppData, a site that tracks traffic of Facebook apps.

That’s still a far cry from Zynga’s Farmville, which gets 17 million players a day and is the No. 1 game on Facebook. But for Digital Chocolate, those numbers are translating into real money -- Hawkins is projecting $50 million in revenue this year for the privately held developer, much of it from selling virtual items used in the company’s games.


And he’s hoping to supercharge that even more by dialing into Hollywood brands that want to use his company’s expertise to launch their own properties on social networks and mobile appplications.

Hawkins made the pitch to Hollywood executives Tuesday morning at the OnHollywood Entertainment Venture Summit at the University of Southern California, where his company was selected as one of the conference’s top 100 private companies.

‘We’re entering an era where you need to have content on all the platforms out there,’ Hawkins told the audience.

-- Alex Pham