Caught In The Webb
Instagram, Instagram, Instagram! Oooh fun times! OMGPOP was exciting enough, but this! So exciting! What does it mean! What does it mean! A few weeks ago I tweeted that I wanted a nice big juicy acquisition to get all excited about. Chaos! Excitement! Inspiration! Copy cats. Looks like I got my wish.
Another thing that strikes me looking at Instagram and OMGPOP, is that I think what we are seeing is that the new tech titans are vulnerable. The days of people jousting fruitlessly against the dominant tech titan—Google—are over.
Exit This Way
Before the sudden success of Draw Something, things weren’t looking so great for OMGPOP. Several developers got the ax. But an anonymous source tells Business Insider the story didn’t end there. As soon as the prospects looked good for a deal, CEO Dan Porter hired them all back:
Be Like the Virus
The App Store official charts for last week showed the new version of an old standby, Angry Birds in Space, at no. 1 and hometown heroes OMGPOP at no. 2 with Draw Something. But a look at the charts today shows Draw Something is now the no. 1 most downloaded paid app, beating out other popular games Angry Birds, Bejeweled, Where’s My Water and Fancy Pants as well as the app-ified Suess classic, The Lorax. The iPhone/iPad version has five stars with 94,481 ratings.
Exit This Way
The saga of the lone OMGPOP employee to say no to Zynga isn’t over just yet thanks to a couple of acerbic late night tweets from OMGPOP chief executive Dan Porter. Last week, Shay Pierce, a former OMGPOP game developer penned a rather explosive column for Gamasutra about turning down Zynga’s post-acquisition employment offer over a difference of “values.” (The gist: he had them, Zynga didn’t.)
Guess Mr. Porter, now VP of general management at Zynga New York, was not a fan of Mr. Pierce calling his new employer “evil.” Late Friday night, Mr. Porter tweeted: “The one OMGPOP employee who turned down joining Zynga was the weakest one on the whole team. Selfish people make bad games. Good riddance!” In case you weren’t sure who he was talking about, he later added, “What’s so interesting about success is the number of failures who try to ride on your back. Shay Pierce is just one of many . . .”
You Must Remember This
Too busy to check your daily Betabeat? Here are the highlights from last week, as selected by the editors.
Just Say No
On Shay Pierce’s Twitter bio, the Austin-based designer and developer identifies himself as the maker of the puzzle game Connectrode before concluding with, “I worked for OMGPOP until the Zynga buyout. True story.”
The last line is understandable. On the heels of what played out in the press as a startup fairy tale, with OMGPOP as the long-suffering Cinderella and Mark Pincus as the handsome prince, who would believe someone could resist getting swept up in the acquisitional romance?
Well on Gamasutra today, Mr. Pierce, who has been making games since he was 13-years-old, offers readers a peek into the decision process behind opting out. In the end, he writes, it came down to values.
Exit This Way
The New York Times got a ticket to OMGPOP’s after-acquisition party at the Bowery Hotel last week where they ran into the startup’s founder, Charles Forman, who was in such a daze over the $180 million deal with Zynga that he walked into traffic.
Mr. Forman, who left the company in 2011, but retained his stake, told the Times he made “way more” than $22 million from the sale, adding, “It’s the kind of money where I’ll be wearing whatever I want when somebody invites me to a wedding.”
We never really thought to measure “fuck you” money in terms of prescribed wedding attire, but godspeed to any groom that wants Mr. Forman as his best man.
Exit This Way
As expected and reported in many places, today Zynga announced the purchase of New York’s own social game maker OMGPOP.
OMGPOP was founded six years ago, went through a session at Y Combinator, and wound its way through a series of challenges and leadership changes before coming out with the superhit game Draw Something six weeks ago. Draw Something is like Pictionary, except it’s played on a mobile phone and is apparently as addictive as crack. With 35 million downloads, it is by far the largest game OMGPOP has ever made.
“We’re excited to announce Zynga has acquired New York-based OMGPOP,” Dave Ko, Zynga’s chief mobile officer, said on a media call, before praising the “smash hit Draw Something.” “If you haven’t played it already, I highly suggest you check it out. It’s super fun.”
Old Dogs Learn New Tricks
OMGPOP, the New York-based casual gaming company founded all the way back in 2006, just had its first big breakout with Draw Something. In fact, according to the AppData leaderboard, which measures apps on the Facebook platform, Draw Something just surpassed Zynga’s Word with Friends in terms of daily active users.
Draw Something has 10.8 million daily active users logged in through Facebook, compared to Words with Friends 8.9 million. OMGPOP, which pivoted from its first concept, iminlikewithyou, in 2009, has released five Facebook games to date. But Draw Something is its first big hit. And how! A few days ago, the company told TechCrunch that Draw Something had passed 25 million registered users, was close to 1 billion ad impressions, and considering a TV show based on the game (which reminds us, where’s that Angry Birds movie, anyway?)
the startup rundown
WICKA WICKA. Turntable.fm is in the big leagues now as the young music based social platform signs deals with Sony BMG, Universal, EMI and Warner, TechCrunch reports. Turntable has over one million users now and a new mobile app since September.
HIPSTARTER. San Francisco based Indiegogo, a crowdfunding platform with offices in Soho that competes with Kickstarter, announced the perfection of their “gogofactor,” a proprietary algorithm that ranks projects based on popularity and viability. This makes Indiegogo the only crowdfunding platform with this type of merit-based ranking functionality. Your move, Kickstarter.