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RockYou looks to Asia with new $17 million investment

A new joint venture with Asian telecoms SK and SoftBank will go toward the creation of both Web and mobile apps for Asia-Pacific markets.

Investments to the tune of $17 million are a rarity these days, but app-factory RockYou has done just that: the San Francisco-based company has announced that Japanese mobile giant SoftBank and Korean telecom investment company SK Telecom Ventures have invested $17 million to create a new joint venture to build apps for the Asia-Pacific market.

RockYou's Series C venture round, which pulled in $35 million, was in June--with the fresh $17 million, the company has raised $67 million so far.

This marks the entry of RockYou, which is best known for its Facebook and MySpace widgets, into the mobile space. "In Asia, over half the social networking occurs on mobile," CEO Lance Tokuda told CNET News. "It's both Web and mobile, and we think we'll get good penetration. The results on (Chinese social network) Xiaonei so far have been very good." RockYou says it is the first non-Chinese company to build apps on Xiaonei.

There will be a separate team handling RockYou's new Asia-Pacific operations, with operations coming from the new joint-venture investors as well. "In a lot of cases it's more cultural, where they'll take our assets and they'll port them and localize them," Tokuda said.

But there will be synergy as well, with mobile apps likely coming to the U.S. market after they're released in Asia. SoftBank is the Japanese carrier for Apple's iPhone, and iPhone apps created for it may eventually be converted to U.S. versions.

"We have no U.S. iPhone apps, and yes, we will port them back (from Asia)," Tokuda said.

So is the company giving up on Facebook's platform? No, Tokuda said, adding that they plan to keep building for it. Nor is the round specifically designed as recession padding, he added.

"There's still opportunity out there," he explained. "That said, it's good to raise a lot of money and have money in the bank, and this latest strategic round helps."