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Bill Bryant

Z2Live, maker of the popular Trade Nations game for the iPhone and iPad, has scored a new round of funding and named two heavy hitters from the Seattle tech community to its board of directors. The amount of funding, provided by Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Madrona Venture Group, was not disclosed.

The new board members include Ed Fries, a well known former Microsoft game executive who co-founded the Xbox Project and established Microsoft’s Game Studios. Also joining the board is Draper Fisher Jurvetson’s Bill Bryant, a long-time Seattle investor whose previously helped companies such as Qpass, Medio Systems and Netbot get off the ground.

David Bluhm, the CEO of Z2Live, said that the company has already reached profitability. And the new funding will allow the startup to “accelerate globally” and build the team.

The size of the round was not disclosed, but Z2Live previously raised about $4 million from Madrona.

Like Bryant, Bluhm has been around the startup scene in Seattle for a number of years. He co-founded mobile search startup Medio Systems and mobile entertainment company Hands-on Mobile.

Now, with Z2Live, Bluhm sees a unique opportunity to create a new class of social games that take advantage of the advances on mobile devices such as the iPhone and the iPad.

Bryant too thinks there’s plenty of opportunity ahead. “Although mobile gaming is still nascent, early winners are already emerging and we’re convinced Z2Live is one of those winners,” he said.

Part of the early success has been driven by Trade Nations, a mobile game where players attempt to grow a small village into a full blown nation by acquiring key resources. (I’ve yet to play Trade Nations, though the game reminds me a bit of one of my all time favorite iPhone apps: Settlers of Catan).

Trade Nations, however, has a more social element where game players can trade with friends as they build new cities.

The app is free to download, with the company making money via in-app purchases of virtual goods. So far, the response has been overwhelming for the game, with the vast majority of players giving it a positive review in Apple’s app store.

UPDATE: Z2Live CEO David Bluhm tells GeekWire that Trade Nations has recorded 220 million game plays since its debut last November, making it “one of the best financially performing games on iOS.”

Bluhm declined to say how much money the company has raised. But he did say the startup, with 22 employees, is looking to nearly double its headcount this year.

Meanwhile, DFJ’s Bill Bryant tells GeekWire that Z2Live has the right team and strategy to succeed in the emerging industry of mobile games.

“Z2Live is one of the early innovators around developing a broad portfolio of free-to-play games.  And the market around mobile gaming is exploding – consumers are demonstrating a strong preference to play games on mobile over online,” said Bryant. “The company was solidly profitable and organically funded so we are thrilled to have the opportunity to invest to help them grow even faster.”

John Cook is co-founder of GeekWire, a tech news site in Seattle. Follow on Twitter: @geekwirenews.

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