Alley vs. Valley
After a Southern-inspired lunch of sloppy joes, potato salad and cornbread, the attendees of TechCrunch Disrupt NYC filtered into the auditorium of a spacious pier building on the West Side Highway for another set of panels. Jason Kincaid, formerly of TechCrunch, took the stage with Foursquare’s Harry Heymann, OMGPOP’s Jason Pearlman and Facebook’s Serkan Piantino to discuss whether or not the East Coast is indeed the “best coast” for engineering.
“It’s sort of a silly name,” opened Mr. Kincaid, playing politely to both sides. “I think both coasts are very nice.”
He then asked the panelists whether hiring engineers in New York is particularly hard due to the fact that many of them are drawn to the glitz and cashmoney of the finance sector.
Be Like the Virus
Less than a month ago we reported that Draw Something had ousted Angry Birds from the highly coveted top paid app spot, but it would appear that success was really Draw Something’s plateau: just six weeks after Zynga acquired the New York-based app shop, its user numbers have dwindled considerably.
Make It Rain
MegaMillions isn’t the only game in town capable of inspiring a feeding frenzy. Not content merely to snap up OMGPOP at something like $180 million, Zynga is making it known they’ve still got IPO cash burning a hole in their corporate pockets. Merger chief Barry Cottle basically told Bloomberg that they are hungry, ready to move fast, and rich as hell:
The climate for Internet startups is heating up. Startups are closing rounds faster, getting popular more quickly, scoring higher valuations and getting acquired with increasing greediness. As local luminary and angel investor Chris Dixon notes, the preponderance of hockey stick growth among the top tier of startups is creating a heavy set of expectations that weighs upon the littler startups. These A-list startups are like the impossibly pretty cheerleaders or the improbably studly jocks who discourage the rest of the high school with their sheer existence. They’re the “it” startups, and they can do no wrong. In other words: they’re hot.
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.