Why Jam City canceled its $1.2B SPAC

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Mobile game publisher Jam City decided to call off its plan to go public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) because of “current market conditions.” Under that plan, Jam City would have been valued at $1.2 billion.

Jam City didn’t offer further comment. The Los Angeles publisher of games such as Cookie Jam and Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery had announced in May that it planned to go public through a SPAC operating under the name DPCM Capital. Both companies announced Friday they were terminating their merger agreement because of the market conditions (that is, volatility), and DPCM will evaluate other merger targets.

As part of the deal, Jam City said it was going to acquire Montreal-based game publisher Ludia for $175 million. Ludia makes games based on the Jurassic World film and other titles. I hear that Jam City still wants to acquire Ludia, but it will now have to come up with alternative financing for that deal.

When Jam City announced the SPAC in May, the stock price for DPCM stayed flat, rather than rising. That was an early indicator that Wall Street was cool to the terms of the deal. And the stock market’s general volatility hasn’t helped matters. Other companies like Roblox have seen strong performance in the stock market. But there are other game-related SPACs that are still waiting for a market window.

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The game market has been hot all year long, with the value of deals hitting $60 billion in the first six months of the year, according to Drake Star Partners. One of the big questions is whether the market window is closing or not.

Chris DeWolfe (left) and Josh Yguado are the cofounders of Jam City.

Above: Chris DeWolfe (left) and Josh Yguado are the cofounders of Jam City.

Image Credit: Jam City

Josh Yguado and MySpace founder Chris DeWolfe started Jam City in 2010, and they have guided it to become one of the biggest mobile game companies with close ties to Hollywood.

Amid a sea of competition on mobile devices, Jam City has thrived on casual games that people play for short amounts of time. Hit titles include Cookie Jam, Panda Pop, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Disney Emoji Blitz, and Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff. Jam City’s games have 1.3 billion downloads, and the company has 31 million monthly active users, as it reported in May.

Jam City had more than 825 employees and nine studios at the end of the first quarter. If it succeeds in acquiring Ludia, that will add nearly 400 employees.

Jam City history

DeWolfe joined forces with Yguado, a former 20th Century Fox executive, and cofounders Aber Whitcomb and Colin Digiaro to start the company in 2010. They raised $28 million from Austin Ventures for Platform G, which then acquired MindJolt, a social gaming platform that Richard Fields started.

MindJolt grew bigger by acquiring SGN and Hallpass Media in 2011, and it renamed itself SGN in 2012. In 2013, the company acquired MobScience. In 2013, it launched Panda Pop and the match-3 puzzle game Cookie Jam. Both were big hits, with Panda Pop generating $375 million in lifetime bookings and Cookie Jam generating $790 million in lifetime bookings, as of December 2020.

In July 2015, South Korea’s Netmarble invested $130 million in SGN, becoming its largest shareholder. SGN bought Fat Rascal Games and Kiwi in late 2015, and it bought TinyCo, the creator of Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff, in July 2016.

It rebranded as Jam City in September 2016 and hit $1 billion in aggregate lifetime bookings in 2017. In April 2018, Jam City released Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery. It bought Uken Games’ studio in Toronto with Bingo Pop in November 2018, and that year, it also cut a deal with Disney for a multiyear licensing agreement and it took over Disney Emoji Blitz. Jam City raised a further $145 million from JPMorgan Chase Bank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch in January 2019. It further bought 231 Play in Berlin in April 2019.

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