E-publisher secures €750,000

11th November 2011

An INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT publisher Ideal Binary has closed a €750,000 investment round which will see games industry veteran Barry O’Neill assume the role of chief executive.

Ideal Binary produces and publishes games and interactive books and, to date, has published a series of 3D pop-up books based on the Brothers Grimm fairytales for Apple devices.

The AIB Seed Capital Fund, managed by Enterprise Equity, has invested €500,000 with Enterprise Ireland putting in the balance.

Ideal Binary was founded in 2008 by brothers Aidan and Kevin Doolan. Mr O’Neill said the free and paid-for versions of its titles based on the stories of Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Rumpelstiltskin have been downloaded more than 600,000 times.

Although the interactive books have been published for Apple products such as the iPad, iPhone and Macintosh, the company’s proprietary PopIris 3D book engine and toolset means developers can write the product once and run it anywhere, according to Mr O’Neill.

The Doolans were the “key engineering team” at Upstart Games, the Irish mobile game publisher Mr O’Neill co-founded in 2002 and sold to China’s Sun 3C Media for €11.5 million four years later.

While Mr O’Neill runs his own investment fund Other Ventures, he said his investment in Ideal Binary had primarily been in the form of “sweat equity”. He has been acting as chairman of the company but has now taken on the full-time role as chief executive.

Mr O’Neill said Ideal Binary has huge potential and, with the new investment, could become one of the top five publishers of content for tablet devices. He said the company was considering creating content for the Amazon Kindle Fire.

“I don’t see it as competitive to the iPad but rather complementary. It’s opening up a whole new market of people who would not buy an iPad.”

Mr O’Neill said the decision to publish only to Apple’s platforms to date, was purely an economic one. “Android has great potential and outsells Apple, but it only generates 10 per cent of the revenues of Apple,” he said.

Ideal Binary employs five staff and is seeking to recruit at least 10 more. “We will hire as many good people as we can get,” said Mr O’Neill.

Frank Walsh, a partner in Enterprise Equity Venture Capital, said his firm was “excited at the prospect of working closely with games visionaries Aidan and Kevin Doolan”.

Other firms Enterprise Equity has backed through the AIB fund include Swrve, an online games optimisation software company and Assembly Point, which builds online HR software and which is run by John Dennehy, Mr O’Neill’s co-founder at Upstart.