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Social Gaming Network Hi5 Acquired By Discovery Company Tagged

Social Gaming Network Hi5 Acquired By Discovery Company Tagged

December 14, 2011 | By Eric Caoili

December 14, 2011 | By Eric Caoili
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More: Social/Online, Business/Marketing

"Social discovery" site Tagged announced and completed its purchase of Hi5, the Alex St. John-led site that spent the past two years trying to position itself as a major social gaming network. The firm did not disclose financial terms for the deal.

With this acquisition, Tagged aims to "dominate the social discovery category" -- the network bills itself as an online community for meeting new people through social games, customizable profiles, virtual gifts, and other features.

Tagged is joining its 100 million registered users (10 million active) with Hi5's 230 million registered users (20 million active). The company claims that only 10 percent of its userbase overlaps with Hi5's, according to the Wall Street Journal.

It also points out that while 30 percent of Tagged's users are in the U.S., Hi5 has a very small Stateside presence. Hi5 is mostly popular in South America, Southeast Asia, and European countries like Spain, Portugal, and Romania.

The firm says that it will initially operate Tagged and Hi5 as "two independent and freestanding brands", continuing to update both products. Tagged hasn't disclosed when or if it will eventually merge the two sites into one network.

Hi5 spent the last two years attempting to transform itself into an alternative to Facebook for social gaming, bringing in Alex St. John, the outspoken founder and former CEO of WildTangent, to lead that charge as president and chief technology officer.

The company raised $14 million for this initiative and built up its social game offerings by acquiring developer Big Six, enticing developers with free marketing and access to viral channels, and building its upcoming SocioPath platform.

Though Tagged hasn't said if it's planning future staff changes with this acquisition, Hi5 did lay off 28 workers in September following infrastructure adjustments meant to "significantly reduce the number of positions required."

Tagged's headcount, however, has grown from some 50 workers at the beginning of 2011 to now 200 after purchasing social game discovery firm WeGame, and launching a new in-house game development studio earlier in the year.

"Hi5's global footprint complements Tagged's and instantly builds on our leadership position as the world's first, largest and best social network to meet new people," says Tagged cofounder and CEO Greg Tseng.

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