Eying the growing popularity of social games, casual gaming company PopCap Games has raised $22.5 million in late-stage funding from Meritech Capital Partners; private investors Larry Bowman (formerly of *Apple* and Fidelity) and John McCaw also participated. The company plans to use the new money for potential acquisitions in the social gaming space. The new funding round represents a minority stake; a first for outside investors, PopCap says.
Founded in 2000, Seattle-based PopCap has grown into one of the largest casual gaming companies, with mobile and iPhone divisions, as well as deals that bundled its games suite onto new PCs from HP and Lenovo. It offers both pay-to-play and and ad-supported games; it turned over ad sales to rival WildTangent last year. Some of its games, like Bejeweled, have even gained popularity with more “hardcore” gamers (a version of Bejeweled was featured as side activity in World of Warcraft earlier this year). The company says it has “maintained profitability” since its inception; it now has over 240 employees, with offices in Dublin and Shanghai. Release.