Funds News

Goldman Sachs invests $200 mln in France's Voodoo -source

* Aims to double staff to 150 this year

* Fast growing demand for mobile games

* Will seek to better exploit data

PARIS, May 28 (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs’ private equity fund has invested about $200 million in French mobile video game maker Voodoo to speed-up its global growth, a source close to the matter said.

The Paris-based company, founded in 2013, aims to more than double its staff to 150 by the end of the year, hiring computer engineers and managers to develop new messaging tools for its users and make better use of the data it collects.

The video game industry is a fast-growing business that has reached $100 billion in worldwide revenue last year, market research firm DFC Intelligence said.

The greater use of smartphones, combined with increased access to high-speed mobile internet, is driving up demand for mobile video games.

Voodoo’s free-of-charge games are among the most-downloaded worldwide by smartphone users via Apple’s App Store and Google Play. It has about 150 million regular users per month and its games were downloaded about 300 million times last year.

One of its recent successes, Helix Jump, features a bouncing ball that has to progress through a helix tower labyrinth.

The terms of the deal with Goldman Sachs’ fund, West Street Capital Partners, were not disclosed. But the Voodoo’s two co-founders, Alexandre Yazdi and Laurent Ritter, will keep control over a majority of the shares, according to a statement.

“It’s clearly a change of scale for us,” Yazdi told Reuters.

“The challenge for us now will be to attract engineers and product managers who have artistic skills and a sensibility.”

The company, which only employs people in France, might build sales teams in the United States within two years to work more closely with Apple and Google, which both offer advertising and distribution tools, Yazdi said.

Voodoo competes head-to-to head with Ubisoft’s Ketchapp, bought by the France’s biggest video game maker in 2014. Other rivals include Vivendi’s Gameloft.

The company is profitable and makes money through ads shown to its users. Users can, however, avoid watching them by paying a premium.

Goldman Sachs’ investment vehicle is a new private equity fund that raised around $7 billion last year, people familiar with the matter have said. (Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gwenaelle Barzic, editing by David Evans)