Watercooler Talk: Social Gamer Raises $5.5M

Anyone who messes around on Facebook or any other social networking site knows that VC-backed Zynga Game Network has captured a lot of participants. Not a day goes by that I don’t get hit up by another friend who wants me to play mafia boss or build a roller coaster, even though I’m already knee deep in farming.

Mountain View, Calif.-based startup Watercooler, a social networking site that connects fans of sports teams and TV shows, is looking to join the party and become a player in the social networking gaming scene.

Sunday night, the company announced it raised a $5.5 million Series B round. Investors included the online betting company Betfair and repeat entrepreneur Canaan Partners, which previously invested $4 million in the company.

I met with Watercooler CEO Kevin Chou earlier this year. Chou had previously been an associate for more than two years at Canaan Partners before joining the company.

At the time we chatted, Chou answered all my questions and we talked about a variety of topics, so I immediately had positive feelings for him and his company.

However, I wonder if the timing is right for Watercooler to make a play at social networking-based fantasy sports. In announcing the Series B round, Chou mentions that Watercooler will use the funding to boost its fantasy sports and social game offerings. Most recently, the company debuted FanSection Fantasy Football 2009, a fantasy football game on Facebook, which joins its popular college basketball game.

No doubt, Zynga and others are showing that there is no shortage of gaming options online, and there’s room for improvement, since I continue to see friends’ posts that they’re tired of farming or playing cafe owner. I haven’t given Watercooler much attention over the last few months, but the company boasts at having more than 26 million users across Facebook and other sites.

The inclusion of Betfair as an investor tells me the company is looking to find a way to add wagering to its games. I’m not sold yet, but I’m interested to see where Chou is taking the company.