It is a bit unusual for a privately-held technology company to issue dividends to employees and shareholders. But that’s exactly what is going on at Big Fish Games, the Seattle maker of casual games.
We heard rumblings of the special payment last week, but couldn’t nail down particulars. Now, Tricia Duryee at All Things D has dug up more details, reporting that 75 percent of staffers received checks and some longtime employees pulled down more than $100,000.
It is unclear why a dividend would be issued at this juncture, but Duryee notes that it indicates that the company is “flush with cash.” (I was told that non-employee shareholders also were in line to get the dividend).
CEO Jeremy Lewis declined to comment. The company raised $83 million in venture capital just before the economic meltdown in 2008, and in more recent months it has been discussed as a possible candidate for an initial public offering. (Why the company would take cash off its books before an IPO is a bit perplexing, however, so if anyone has a clue please let me know).
Founded by former RealNetworks employee Paul Thelen in 2002, Big Fish now employs about 500 people.
Big Fish has not grown as quickly as social media gaming powerhouse Zynga, which boasts 232 million monthly users, more than 2,200 employees and revenue last year of $597 million. However, it is said to be bigger — at least in terms of revenue — than Seattle’s PopCap Games which was sold to Electronic Arts for up to $1.3 billion earlier this year.
In September, Big Fish appointed former Amazon.com executive David Stephenson as chief financial officer.
Curious, do you think the dividend signals something bigger at Big Fish?