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Hands-On Mobile projects USD 100 million in sales

New CEO dismisses Glu Mobile as "a wart on my ass"

Hands-On Mobile, formerly Mforma, is pushing towards massive growth in the global mobile entertainment market. The company's new CEO is confident of USD 100 million in sales in 2006 and has openly dismissed the firm's closest industry rival.

Speaking in a recent interview with the San Francisco Business Week, Hands-On Mobile's brash new CEO, Jonathan Sacks, detailed the company's ambitious strategy to transform the company from a mobile game start-up to a dominant force in wireless entertainment, openly dismissing the idea of any threat from rival mobile content publisher Glu Mobile.

Glu Mobile is roughly half the size of Hands-On in terms of revenue, but arguably on par in terms of its mobile games business, benefiting from a much stronger presence with mobile carriers, who tend to favour Glu's products at present.

Not afraid to throw the punches, Sacks scoffed: "Glu is like a wart on my ass. It's not even in my league."

Greg Ballard, Glu's CEO, took a slightly less abrasive stance on the situation, commenting: "Some day, both of us will have our 'locker room moment' where we'll see the real size of both companies. When that happens it'll be a lot easier to make those comparisons."

Following his promotion from president to CEO in September 2005, the former president of AOL interactive services began his drive for growth and change of the company, beginning with an HQ move from Washington to San Francisco and the securing of USD 30 million in third-round venture financing.

The funding, led by Institutional Venture Partners, brings the total to USD 94 million, and is being used in part for a major advertising push and a series of acquisitions in North America, Europe and Asia - forming key links with mobile carriers around the world in preparation for a slew of new brands, products and services Hands-On has planned.

"Verizon and Sprint don't want to deal with a hundred little players. That's the beauty of getting to scale," commented Todd Chaffee, managing director of Institutional Venture Partners.

Sacks then orchestrated the company name change, from Mforma to Hands-On Mobile, the straight talking CEO commenting: "Our name was unpronounceable. What in the name of God is Mforma?"

Hands-On is undergoing more than just a change of moniker however, and the newly named firm is being splintered into three distinct divisions - Hands-On Games, Hands-On Lifestyle and Hands-On Personalisation - with the intention of releasing a diverse range of products to target specific market segments, pushing beyond the 18-34 gamer and developing the company into much more than a wireless games publisher.

The company is also expanding its San Francisco headquarters and shifting some of its technical staff to a new 14,000-square-foot office, in an effort to accommodate the rapid growth. Hands-On is also preparing to raise further capital through an IPO, which Sacks hopes will happen by the end of 2006.

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