Zynga buys OMGPOP for $183M. In bidding war vs Disney and EA.
Draw Something doing $250,000/day AFTER Apple’s commission. http://allthingsd.com/20120321/looks-like-zynga-just-bought-omgpop-for-200-…
That must be just upgrades and virtual currency revenue, because ads are outside of Apple’s control. That’d be $350,000/day revenue total for upgrades and virtual currency. If CRO telling truth on March 8, then 1/3 is virtual currency ($116,000/day) and 2/3 is paid upgrades ($234,000/day). That means 234,000 pro users per day (1-2M installs/day = 12%-25% pro upgrade conversion rate). The least virtual currency package is $1.99 and next is $4.99, but if we estimate $5 per user, that is 1% of new installs and 23,200 virtual goods purchases per day (of $5 each, thus more likely 2-3 $1.99 purchases by buyers).
Last week marked the two-year anniversary of the sale of Draw Something (OMGPOP) to Zynga. Draw Something’s explosive 7-week ride in early 2012 culminated into a worldwide brand and was then acquired by Zynga for a rumored $183 million. In the past two years since that acquisition, QuizUp has been the next biggest asynchronous game to garner such attention, but not nearly to the degree that Draw Something did.
Draw Something was able to achieve 50 million installs in 50 days vs QuizUp’s 5 million users in 50 days¹. Based on smartphone growth over the past two years, if Draw Something launched today it may have been double what it was — 100 million installs in 50 days. That’s 20x what QuizUp did.
Draw Something was able to shatter what QuizUp did for three main reasons:
The kids appeal of Draw Something vs non-kids appeal of QuizUp. Draw Something was able to appeal to all demographics and locales, particularly the kids. QuizUp on the other hand is a trivia game, so younger kids are left out. Kids are a large audience for mobile games.
Draw Something released both a free and a paid “pro” app. These apps were identical, but the pro version removed ads and gave you additional coins to spend. In the metrics above, Draw Something’s numbers are based on “installs” vs QuizUp reporting “users”. There was likely overlap of some Draw Something users installing both the free and paid app, so this isn’t an equal comparison, but I can’t imagine it’s too far off.
Draw Something simultaneously launched on both Android and iOS from the start. QuizUp did not — they only launched their game on iOS. Herein lies the problem that QuizUp ran into: the word-of-mouth viral loop stopped at every single Android user — which now is a larger market share than iOS.
In my opinion, that last point is the biggest reason Draw Something became a worldwide brand overnight vs QuizUp.
Every instance that I spoke about QuizUp to friends, if they had an Android phone, they didn’t care about the game, because they couldn’t have it — and the message of QuizUp never carried to their circles of friends. Whereas when I spoke about Draw Something to friends, both my iPhone and Android friends would install the game, then tell their circles of friends about the game, who would tell their circles of friends, (etc) and the brand continued spreading like a weed through the world via talk, text, Twitter, Instagram, and other forms of social communication.
Now this isn’t to say that QuizUp messed up. How QuizUp launched is actually the norm these days for mobile startups — Draw Something was an anomaly. Without going into all the gory technical details, the fact is that simultaneously developing a native app for both iOS and Android essentially takes twice the amount of time and effort, which typically means twice the cost.
The technology that’s supposedly going to break down this walled garden of native app development is HTML5. Four years ago, Facebook was all-in on HTML5. A year and a half later they reversed course when Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook had relied too much on HTML5, rather than on native applications. Why? Three years ago, MG Seigler wrote a post outlining the HTML5 vs native applications debate and essentially concluded HTML5-based mobile apps were a joke to their native counterparts. HTML5-based mobile apps were always inferior to native apps. I emailed Dan Porter (former CEO of OMGPOP) and asked if they had considered HTML5 when they developed Draw Something two years ago:
“We never considered HTML5 as it’s solid for a news site, but at that time not for the real experience of a game — including drawing and drawing playback.”
Clearly an opportunity for QuizUp to gain many more users and revenue was missed by not launching on Android alongside iOS from the start when the media and user frenzy was at its’ peak. Due to the costly, time intensive and irritating process of building a native app on both iOS and Android, most app startups will continue to lean towards selecting and building for just one of these main mobile operating systems — particularly at the beginning when cash is king, time is of the essence, and you don’t even know if you have a hit on your hands (read: product-market fit). And if that’s the case, chances are that the next app startup to reach QuizUp stardom won’t reach Draw Something super-stardom.
Until an HTML5-based (hybrid) mobile app comes out that interfaces with a device’s native features (i.e. camera, accelerometer, etc.), functions and performs at the same level as a counterpart native app, AND blows the minds of the development community, companies will continue defaulting their mentality to building native apps. Despite the headaches and time it takes to build-out simultaneous native apps, developers are 100% confident they can make them do whatever they very well please. The same hasn’t been said for HTML5 over the years. With all the advances in the past four years, I think the pump is primed for someone to build a mind-blowing HTML5-based (hybrid) mobile app that will make us all think it’s a native app.
So who is going to be the superhero and show the world that it can be done?
¹Seven weeks after launch (November 7, 2013) QuizUp had 5-million users (December 26, 2013). Six weeks later they released on the iPad (February 6, 2014) and claimed 10 million users. That’s 10 million users in 90 days.
It is an excellent article and he conveys what I have been feeling for a couple years now, since Arrington was on his last legs at TechCrunch.
I have been bored by the whole scene. I want to feel like 1998 again, when I was excited for my Red Herring and Business 2.0 magazines to come in the mail to see what future was being built by kids in some distant city. Or I want to feel like 2006 again, when I would hit refresh on TechCrunch.com awaiting the next of the mere 5 posts they would publish daily about some futuristic startup that was being built then and now.
Interesting about Darcy, and probably widely known [but I didn’t know], the past 8 years of trade deadline eligibility (04-05 lockout)… he traded on the deadline day on 7 of those years (with 1 trade also happening the day prior to deadline in 2004, in addition to the trades on deadline in 2004 that interestingly enough included Brad Boyes in a 3-way deal from SJ to Bruins), and 1 of those years he only did one trade that was on the day before the deadline — that was last year.
2003-04: March 9th, 2004 deadline, they traded the day before:
From Wikipedia page… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006%E2%80%9307_Buffalo_Sabres_season “The Sabres were the last team to be involved in a trade in the 2006–07 season. On the day of the NHL trade deadline, though, they made four trades. Goaltender Martin Biron, who had been the longest-tenured Sabre, was sent to Philadelphia for Philadelphia’s second-round pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Buffalo’s fifth-round pick in that draft was sent to Columbus in exchange for another backup goalie, Ty Conklin. Jiri Novotny was sent along with Buffalo’s 2007 first-round pick to Washington in exchange for Dainius Zubrus and Timo Helbling. Finally, the Sabres sent their fourth-round pick in 2007 to Nashville for Mikko Lehtonen, a minor league defenseman.”. Sidenote: Vanek was a +47 on the season. (best in entire NHL). Unreal. He had Briere.
2007-08: Feb 26th, 2008 deadline, they traded that day:
It turns out not to be as awesome as I had hoped. I had really hoped I’d never have to plug my camera in again — or slide the memory card out, and put it back into my computer. But after some miserable failings, that’s not apparently going to happen.
In addition, Eye-Fi wrecked a few photos of mine (see screenshot)… I don’t know whether the memory card itself (Eye-Fi) just isn’t great for photos, or if it was too busy trying to upload photos at the same time to my iPhone or my computer.. but none-the-less, I can’t risk losing that perfect shot.
I also can’t believe how exhausting the process is, and how it doesn’t really communicate to me what’s happening. When connecting to my computer, it seems to show me the photos — but over the last couple hours, it had failed to put the most recent photos onto my computer…. or onto my iPhone.
The software on the desktop tells me it’s uploading to my iPhone, yet my iPhone app says “Idle”, and the pictures never appeared on my iPhone.
So I turned on iCloud’s Photostream from Apple. I think this will help me. I liked the idea of getting photos from my SLR onto my iPhone, so that I could Instagram them. I could do that with iPhoto, but Photostream enabled just always makes my latest photos on my desktop available on my iPhone. Pretty sweet.
Still would love to remove the friction of having to take the memory card out of the SLR and putting it into my computer. Maybe someday.
MG (@parislemon) has a good write-up on TechCrunch about why Siri is a big deal. Apple is shying away from marketing the hell out of this feature because it’s in “beta” — aka, it’s not fully ready. It’ll be fully ready in a year or whatever, likely once the software learns so many words from the millions of users that will be using it daily with their iPhone 4S’s. And once it is fully baked, the thing no one is talking about is the obvious game changer here: The desktop computer.
I can type lots of words per minute, but I watch my parents and other struggle to type fast. It’s a serious pain point.
When a Mac comes out (I’m going to guess before Christmas 2012) with full Siri integration, watch out world. Although users will likely still use voice commands of “Google for ……..”, if they were to use voice commands of “Search the web for ………”, then Google should be put on notice.
I’m writing this post with the intentions of telling you about the idea, sharing the debates that occurred with how the app should operate and be used, share mockups with you, share documents/spreadsheets of tasks/bugs/features/timelines, and simply give a glimpse into this failure. It was a failure because I called quits on it — I ultimately couldn’t keep funding it myself and the team was losing interest in working on this app that I kept going back-and-forth on how the user experience should play out — when we hadn’t even had any users using it yet.
My initial pitch for MyFavorites was “Show + Tell Your Favorites”. That pitch eventually became: “The Like button for everything.” Nick came up with that one and it was solid gold — would have made a great TechCrunch post title… we discussed possibly using it as our tagline, knowing it might be controversial and Facebook might sue — but any press is good press 🙂 We weren’t going to do that though. [Quick shout-out to Buffalo-native Chris Sacca, whose portfolio list has a one-liner that sums up every single company. If you can’t do that for your startup, then you’re likely too broad and not simple enough. Remember, if you can’t explain your solution to your Mom so she can understand it, then most people won’t understand it and they especially can’t explain it to their friends]
The problem we tried to solve — wouldn’t it be great to know the favorite books of your friends (and celebs), so you know what book you should be buying to read this weekend? Facebook has interests, but have you ever updated those since you signed up for Facebook? Wouldn’t it be great to know your friend’s favorite … anythings? You’d be looking at a feed of just favorites — blog posts, beers, sneakers, drinks at Starbucks, things to do in Baltimore, apps for iPhone, tree cutting services locally, meals at a restaurant, etc.
Wouldn’t it be cool to see all of Ashton’s favorites? Or Britney Spears, or any celebrity?
We were tackling the “interest graph”. You can find lots of my notes and findings at the MyFavorites blog.
I’ll tell you my grandiose billion-dollar idea for MyFavorites — imagine 50k people that took pictures of themselves with their love for Starbucks (or any brand). Sure, Starbucks currently can show a Facebook widget that shows profile pics of their Facebook fans… but imagine just replacing their homepage with 50,000 people showing their absolute love for Starbucks? That’d be amazing — Starbucks doesn’t even need to say anything about their products, because here’s people that vouch for us. Imagine Gary Vaynerchuk when selling his next book to just show tons of pictures of people with his last book, showing creatively how much they love garyvee?
With all of these pictures, a new ad network could be created — per the one I wrote about back in 2007 (“Ads with Personal Endorsements“) — this is the future, there’s no doubt about that. The problem is how do you get people to take pics of themselves with brands/products that they absolutely love and personally vouch for?
In the feed, our plan was to always have a #dickbar at the top of the screen. That would be asking the user for their favorites. At first, these would all be some default categories that we ask everyone, but as the user gets friends and follows people, anytime those users are asking people for favorites in a category, that user’s profile pic and name would show in the #dickbar with category they want favorites for. Meanwhile, there’d be sponsored favorite questions — such as, if you favorited Doritos, then Doritos could ask you “What’s your favorite Doritos flavor?”, or if you favorited Starbucks, it could be asked “What’s your favorite drink at Starbucks?”, etc. It just keeps going and going. [Here’s a spreadsheet of some more sub-question examples]
As a user favorites something, there would be sub-questions to those categories. If you favorited ‘NFL’, then we could ask the question, “What’s your favorite NFL team?”. The plan was to allow multiple favorites for any category, for every user… so that everytime you were drinking a beer you loved, we wanted you to whip out your phone and favorite it. Then you’d have a ranking of your favorite beers — with # of times you favorited each one. You’d also be able to see the favorite beer tally of all your friends combined, or individually… so then you would know the most popular beer amongst your friends. With us knowing where you live and where you’re favoriting this stuff, we could also figure out the most popular ANYTHING in every city — that’s powerful. We could basically show a map of the world and show Gibson vs Fender and which guitar brand is the leader in every city, every state, and every country.
I used 99designs. I know that basically every designer out there loathes this service and anyone that uses it, but I beg to differ. If you’re awesome, you aren’t going to be replaced by 99designs. I think it’s a great opportunity for college kids and international designers that don’t have access to design work. It’s a great platform for learning as a designer — understanding a client’s needs/requirements/vision and trying to design for that. The designer gets feedback from not only the client, but other designers — and can see feedback on other designer’s work by the client [and others]. As a designer you need to go into knowing you’re basically paying for education — you pay by doing work for free and likely not going to get paid for that work. You go to school and pay for that education. Education and experience costs money and time. 99designs is disruptive and I understand the controversy. Various designers in the world will continue using it and so will various people — but it’s not going to become the defacto for the entire design world.
With the MyFavorites logo, I wanted something that could eventually be placed on blog posts like the Twitter ‘tweet’ button and the Facebook ‘like’ button.
We went back and forth on this so many times I can’t count them all. Granted, I was the one changing my mind a lot. We initially started with a sentence strategy — you would say “My Favorite beer is Duvel” — so basically “My Favorite (category) is (item)”. The problem you run into is pluralization — is vs are. I can’t even speak to all the issues with this, but our language is a mess 🙂 [Here’s a screenshot of an old sentence structure process for our app]
The other problem with the sentence structure is that it seems a bit lengthy. We all went to SXSW 2011 and were almost ready to launch the app (this was after weeks of tons of late nights trying to cram this app to be ready) … and then we all saw Pete Cashmore’s interview of Dennis Crowley … where Dens talks about making the checkin process as easy as possible.. and I realized we needed to simplify our favoriting process. Nick had mentioned many weeks prior that we should start the process by showing like 10 default categories, with the ability for user to choose ‘other’ and input their own category. This would help guide our users and make the process slicker. So that was our final strategy on this focal UX point of the app.
We also originally allowed the user to input multiple categories for a favorite — this seemed to like it would make the user have to “think” too much. We found ourselves wondering what categories/tags to use.
Our other strategy was to focus on the ability for users to add tips to Foursquare. Initially we thought that when someone favorites something, they’d be able to checkin at Foursquare, post it to Twitter and Facebook. That doesn’t really make sense though — I use the Foursquare app — I opened that as soon as I walk into a venue — that’s when I think to use that app. The idea with MyFavorites is to use it when you are loving something — so likely, you’re already checked-into a Foursquare venue, and so this would be an ability to add more tips into Foursquare…. which hasn’t been done yet. No other apps are focused on getting more tips into Foursquare — and to me, tips are the most valuable aspect of Foursquare.
The big problem we just never knew how to answer until the app started getting used, was we didn’t know what to give the user after they favorited something. Foursquare gives points, random badges… should MyFavorites being doing game mechanics like this? Leaderboard seemed pertinent to us — but specifically showing the user what other favorites exist in the category they just favorited in — and where their current favorite item ranks in relation to other items they have favorited in that same category (i.e. ‘Pabst Blue Ribbon is your 3rd favorite beer!’). [Here’s an old leaderboard mockup and another one specific to a user] [Here’s a spreadsheet of tons of possible messages we could have delivered to the user after they favorited something]
MOBILE APP vs WEB APP
Initially we were building both an iPhone & Android app (after establishing our dev platform as Titanium Appcelerator), as well as a website where you could favorite things as well. It was all too much. Even with Titanium’s ability to “write once, and push out an iPhone and Android app” — that’s false; it takes a lot of work to manipulate features for iPhone and Android — there’s no scroll wheel function in Android; there’s no menu button on iPhone as there is on Android.
Having a web app being created at the same time was ridiculous too — especially since we still hadn’t nailed down the favoriting process or tried it with any users. I was blowing cash — at a ridiculous pace. I had 7 guys working on this thing at once, as we were hustling for SXSW launch deadline. We decided to focus on the iPhone app, which sucked for me and Dan the backend programmer, because we both couldn’t even use the app — we both have Droid X phones.
Focus on one platform. Get it out there — let people use it — nail down the UX with user input.
I looked at Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare — then wrote a post called the “Metrics of me, me, me!” — basically the conscious and subconscious interactions/metrics we make with these services. I also blogged about the “usage psychology” of those services to better understand how we could hook MyFavorites users. Our social interactions were the following:
favorite [default action; like a tweet or checkin]
‘me too’ [trying to get users to add more favorites easier]
‘reply’ [ability for users to reply to someone’s favorite with their own favorite — i.e. your favorite car is a Nissan Altima, well mine is a Mattel. We found a lot of humor came from this action]
ask for favorites [ability for user to ask friends for their favorites in a category — i.e. if I were going to Ireland for vacation, what are things to do there?] [users would simply ‘reply’ with their favorite]
Eventually we wanted to open an API that allowed you to have favorites auto-imported — such as Twitter favorites, who uses that feature on Twitter anyway? Our site would give you a reason to use favoriting on Twitter. For YouTube, we’d auto-import stuff you favorite in there. Lots of apps out there have a like or favorite ability, and it seems like an opportunity exists for aggregating all of that.
MOCKUPS OF FUNCTIONALITY
These obviously took tons of hours of our lives nailing these. We looked at lots of apps for help/ideas.
This was up for serious debate all the time. Basically, I wanted this. I wanted to be able to ask my friends what their favorite things to do in Ireland were. Or Hawaii, where I’m going for my honeymoon. Or I am looking for someone to take down this tree in my backyard — Yelp sucks in Buffalo, so how can I find a friend that can recommend a tree cutting service? So the ‘where’ was a big issue — I didn’t want just a ‘tree cutting service’, I wanted a ‘tree cutting service in Buffalo, NY, USA’. So we had this ‘Where?’ optional field, which then would either take a Foursquare venue, or you could select a city or country from a DB we had. It was a complete mess — it was confusing to users [especially when we had this on the Favoriting process] — and the rest of my team didn’t think we needed this functionality at all anyhow.
Profile Settings and Adding Friends:
Favorite page on web — we ultimately decided to do the Instagram thing, which was have a non-interactive website initially and simply have a webpage for every favorite that occurs by users, so that these could be shared. I think this minimal design was great and we planned to build out feed/category/profile pages on the web this way too:
Search / Discovery – nearby and everywhere. By the people you follow, or everyone. Too many options and thus too cluttered IMO:
Documents / Spreadsheets
Sharing to Facebook and Twitter and Foursquare — get new users! Here’s a spreadsheet of all the possible copy (tweets, etc) that could have been used.
URL examples of our website as a spreadsheet (more ideas of our future plans).
Here is a spreadsheet of our final team push towards a launch. These were the remaining features to finish and some hours estimates on completing them.
Here is a monster feature / task list, which clearly was just out of control. I didn’t know how to tame my beastly instincts for “we could do this, and this, and this, and..”
Meanwhile at SXSW is when I first learned that Kevin Rose was gathering some troops (including Daniel Burka, whose design work I have been following for years in awe) to create Milk Inc., which was going to be an incubator of app ideas. One of those app ideas that possibly was going to be their focus (OINK), was dabbling in similar territory of MyFavorites. We had about 6 months on them, but still — that’s some competition.
I still want to use an app like MyFavorites — and I hope OINK can nail it. Ultimately, I wasn’t the guy to push this idea through. Being a non-technical founder, I just can’t throw money at this thing in the hopes of nailing it. I believe we were definitely at a point where we could have raised some funding around SXSW timeframe — we had the team, the focus, and an app that was working … but ultimately when we came back from SXSW, we all started losing interest, the team was all wondering where this was eventually going, and I was wondering if I even wanted to run a startup, have investors, have the responsibility of employees and answering to a board of investors, etc.
Moving forward I’m looking to help the OINK guys or anyone working on this problem in any way I can. There’s a solid 6 months of problems, solutions, strategy, userflow, monetization, and everything else under the sun… that went down. And there’s still a massive opportunity out there to nail.
Want to read more of my startup failures? Read here
Want to read the 100+ web startup ideas I’ve written about? Read here
In closing, I’ll leave you with some Jay-Z that pretty much sums my future up…
I don’t know much about psychology, but below I have brainstormed my own quick thoughts on aspects of why users are using these various services. These services allow you to broadcast what you are doing. This is a follow-up to my post about the metrics of ‘me, me, me!’ on these services.
easy to tweet
hope for a retweet
hope for a reply
people include URLs and wasn’t til last release that twitter embedded videos, photos, etc
3rd-party apps allow easy input to twitter
celebrities to follow
follow/stay up-to-date on friends
unstructured data input
my life history and interesting stuff
600 million users
easty to update status
3rd-party apps make easy to update your status
hope for likes and comments
stay up-to-date on friends
unstructured data input
my life history
connect your account to 3rd-party services to easily find friends in those services
easy to checkin
focus on location
my travel history
‘tips’ are useful
see where friends are; what they are doing
game/leaderboard; points (7-days)
surprise factor: random badges
tips nearby are useful
discovery: explore around where you are to find stuff to do
easy to share via twitter/facebook to tell my friends that aren’t on foursquare
structured data input
see who else is where you are… or aren’t
friends (both users follow each other), and followers
3rd-party apps help get check-ins
there are comments, but seem rarely used
no ‘like’ buttons — user can get that on facebook/twitter if wanted. Replaced with game mechanics
Some notes on GetGlue (an app for checking-in to movies, tv shows, music you’re listening to, etc)
Personal note: my friends aren’t there
Personal note: If I was more into TV, maybe I’d use it more?
Personal note: my friends wouldn’t be jealous of me watching a movie or show — they are out living life; the game of life is doing as much as possible, not being a couch potato
“Guru” is like foursquare’s “Mayor”
show details, no tips; ‘Guru’, ‘Superfans’, ‘Fans’