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Originally published Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 10:27 PM

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Interface

Free online puzzles to entice daily players

What: Puzzazz, based in Redmond Who: Roy Leban, 51, founder and chief technology officer Mission: Bring the puzzle market to electronic...

What: Puzzazz, based in Redmond

Who: Roy Leban, 51, founder and chief technology officer

Mission: Bring the puzzle market to electronic media.

Number crunch: The starting gun sounded with the release of three products on the Kindle, each with 100 interactive puzzles based on the Sudoku format. The puzzles use words and symbols as well as numbers. Crosswords will follow, as will products for the iPad.

Employees: 5

Financials: While the steady stream of online puzzles it plans will be free, the company hopes to generate revenue through sales of books on the Kindle platform. Leban said 700 new puzzle books are published each year. He doesn't foresee matching that, but "expects to be a significant player" before year's end.

Addictive fun: The free puzzles are "gateway" products, with players seemingly unable to get enough of them. Online use increases sharply at 5 a.m., Leban said, when users on the East Coast awaken and need their puzzle fix. Puzzazz hopes they spend $2.99 to get the puzzle books Puzzazz offers.

Balancing act: Leban describes a continuum with puzzles on one end and games on the other; the former requires intellect while the latter relies on dexterity. "Puzzle games," which are now in development, will be in the middle. "There are people who like cake and people who like ice cream, and sometimes they like them together," Leban said. "So there are people who both solve puzzles and play games, although presumably not at the same time."

Quote: "There is the suggestion that the earlier you start solving puzzles the stronger your brain will be," Leban said. "But we aren't trying to cure Alzheimer's; we are just out to create great content."

— Charles Bermant

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