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Here’s your program.
Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. How do you build a successful mobile software company? Well joining me today is a man who did it twice. In 2000, Scott Lahman co-founded JAMDAT, a mobile game company that he took public, then sold six years later to Electronic Arts for $680 million. In 2007, Scott followed it up with GOGII, which makes textPlus, the insanely popular text messaging system and the heavyweight in the group messaging space.
Scott, welcome to Mixergy.
Scott: Thank you, Andrew. How are you?
Andrew: Good. Good to see you.
Scott: And so you.
Andrew: I said that you are insanely successful, I said you’re the heavyweight, but I didn’t include what I love, which are numbers. So fill it in with numbers. How many active users to you have now?
Scott: Well, generally on a monthly basis we’re about eight million active users.
Andrew: That means eight million people are doing things like what?
Scott: Like sending messages, have profiles, joining and creating communities, which are kind of our name ‘super group’. They are almost like little social networks. If I was to throw out my vanity stats, which is something that once in a while I will talk about, we’re over 40 million users, but to us the vanity stat is not as useful as those that are engaged very often through products.
Andrew: What’s the difference between the 40 and the 8? What’s left out of the 8?
Scott: I don’t necessarily feel confident enough that those 40 are our users. They’ve tried the app. They’ve used it from time to time. Maybe we’ve lost them. Maybe we never had them, right. But those eight million are ours. They’re engaged in the app in ways, that we know as we look at our funnel, that they’ll come back and they’ll continue to use it. And for us it’s all about making that delta, between that have tried it and people that use it actively, smaller and smaller.
Andrew: All right. I want to go back in the interview and find out how you launched JAMDAT, how you grow it, why you sold it, what you learned from it, and then go on into GOGII and do the same there, but first I want to make sure that I understand what you do today. Can you describe a typical user and a typical use case for GOGII?
Scott: Yeah. At the heart of it, textPlus is a replacement client for the text client that comes on your phone. In a lot of ways maybe the simplest analogy is, think of us as you might have thought about hotmail or Gmail years ago. Oh, I don’t have use the email card that comes with Verizon or Prodigy, I can download one that’s better, richer, has more features. So once you understand that, then you realize that us as their text client. Not only do we give them a free phone number to text unlimited, but we also give them group texting, we give them a profile, we give the ability to create little social networks over text, and we give them the ability to discover other users. So all of these features are beyond what you might find on the embedded text client.
Andrew: All right. We’ll come back to it and find out how it evolved and how you added all those features and I especially want to talk about the one feature that according to my research doubled your usage. We’ll hold that out as a little teaser and I also want to dig into it where it’s appropriate, so it’s a teaser that actually makes sense to hold off on. But let’s go back now. Year 2000, you’re still working at Activision, what were you doing at Activision back then?
Scott: Yeah, it’s interesting. I was at Activision for six years from around the time there were 50 people. I was at the restart of Activision, let’s be clear, Activision has two eras, if you will, the original invent the videogame era and then Bobby Kotick’s restart. And I joined Bobby Kotick’s restart and around 1999 we actually decided that what I had been doing, which was running our large internal videogame studios was necessarily the model that would be going forward. So instead of doing that, I tried to build a new business, which would become significant in my career.
They did something transformative there. They put a production executive, which was me, together with a marketing executive, which was a woman named Trisha Buttaro, to build a casual games division and enter a new market. And because we were in casual game which kind of had this wide net and anything that didn’t fit into Play Station, Sega, whatever it was at the time, hardcore PC shooters, they would throw my way. And one day the licensing director calls me, he’s is very good guy named Dave Anderson, calls me and says, ‘Hey, I have Nokia coming in and I want you to come to the meeting and see if there’s anything to this.’
So I got to the meeting and within about five minutes of hearing Nokia pitch a licensing deal, where licensed some of Activison’s properties, I had kind of my Malcolm Gladwell Blink moment and I knew beyond any kind of rational thought that this would work. And that this was going to be big. So that was an important meeting. And I walked out of that and started turning more and more of my attention at Activision to the mobile market.
Andrew: Let’s pause right there for a moment. One of the things the Malcolm Gladwell says in “Blink” is that these instincts happen to you in a moment, but if you really dissect them and understand them you can see that there’ lots of different data points that are being analyzed by the experienced person, who can in that moment respond and come up with an understanding that we wouldn’t understand. What were those data points that suddenly hit you like a bolt of lightning, all at once?
Scott: Yeah, it’s interesting because I think at the end of the day, because if you really dissect the mobile market at the time, there was some problems in terms of thinking about games being played on mobile devices. There were no operating systems, I mean there were no application environments, there were no color screens, there weren’t even really screens that could play graphics, so all the data was against. So to your point, what really struck me, I think, as the moment of Blink was that the relationship between people I knew and their phone was changing. It was clear to me that that device was becoming more an implant, if you will, more of a sidekick as somebody called it, if you will, that it had ever been before. And think that was the overriding intuition, that is was that relationship.
So that was one key piece and then what I had been trained by Intel, who Activision had a marvelous partnership, was the virtuous software cycle, which is better hardware needs better software to show off the hardware. So as these phone devices became computers they’re not going to sell voice on a minicomputer, they’re going to go through the same thought process that Intel would go through, which is I need 3D graphics to show off my 3D chip.
Andrew: Wasn’t Motorola at the time thinking things like, I forget the name of the company that they acquired, but they acquired a contact management company, that the thinking was, “How do we contact the phone to the computer or make the phone some other way more productive.” Why games for you? Why did you think that people were going to play games on their phones?
Scott: Well, if you look at my career, there’s a very graceful through line in every step. So from where I start in the movie business going to games, we don’t have to get into that story, but games had a through line to how I made that transition. Going to mobile, I thought that games was the entry point and that was a natural step for my point of view, for what I thought about games and for what I had a skill set in, which is also helpful to explore your assets as an entrepreneur.
However, you’re absolutely correct, we had a lot of trouble convincing people that games would be ‘it’ on phones. Obviously Nokia came in with a point of view, but that was rare. And people thought it would be enterprise or they thought it would be more of say, more voice or more contact management.
Andrew: So you are saying that if you happened to have been in enterprise at the time, you would have created enterprise software for the mobile?
Scott: It’s possible. I would’ve had more of a bias. You know, we think of it as swinging from vine to vine. So the vine from games on play stations to games on phones, it’s not the big a swing. Enterprise to phones to enterprise to games, that’s a big swing. In fact I would not necessarily bet on the enterprise to games crowd.
Andrew: Okay. So the opportunity hit you, you knew the people who were open to it and you were still working at Activision, and you said that you were starting to shift your attention toward it. At what point did you say, ‘I’ve got to start a company here. This is a whole other entity.’?
Scott: Well so at that moment I left Blink mode and I went into research mode.
Andrew: Oh, okay.
Scott: Which is fun for me, I love doing research. And I looked and I found that in Europe this is already happening, of course, and that’s part of what Nokia was reacting to. More importantly, in Japan it was already happening with Docomo i-mode. I’m six, seven years in the videogame business I’m of the mind that what happens in Japan is incredibly relevant to what’s going to happen in this country.
Now jumping ahead a little when I went out to fund raise that was the opposite view that most VCs had. They would say things like, “Well what’s true in Japan is not relevant to what happens.” And again, I’m like, “Nintendo, Sony, these names mean something to me.” Except for one guy, Bill Gulrey, who is a savant. And I think in 1999 he came out with an important article, one of his usual think piece, roadmaps pieces, where he said, “I-mode’s it. Look at i-mode. Look what they did. It is going to be so relevant,” which is why Bill Gurely went to the top of our list of VCs that we wanted. We weren’t able to land him for four more rounds, but that was the start of that.
So I went into research mode and I had a lot of data that suggested that yes indeed this was going to happen.
Andrew: So you knew that the market was going to be big. In this research mode, did you sit down and plan how you were going to get your foot in the door, where you were going to get the content, who you were going to sell it to?
Scott: Yeah. Well, at first, obviously I’m still working for Activision, so my first thinking is that how do we build a mobile team at Activision. And as the research came on, as I got more excited about it, I started to think that maybe we weren’t going to be able to be successful building within Activision. It’s just not a big enough opportunity in a short enough time.
So I called my friend Austin Murray who at the time was director of strategy at eCompanies and we had worked together before at Activision, we were good friends. And I asked him to go to dinner and I wanted to talk him about an idea. So this was an important dinner in our history, we went to dinner at Bombay Cafe on Pico here in Los Angeles and at that dinner we both started to talk about an idea we were having. And I don’t remember which one of us went first, but we pitched each other the same idea, mobile games. He was looking at the space, I was looking at the space and Austin said, “You know what? I have a million dollars to give away to start a company and that’s why I wanted to have this dinner with you and you can come start this company at eCompanies.”
And so that changed my mind set to startup. I went to talk to Bobby Kotick and I said, “Look here, Bobby, I can do this for you or I can do this as a startup.” And I’ll never forget this because Bobby said, “You got to do it for us. We’re going to do that, we’re going to dominate.” And I said, “Okay. Really?” And he looked at me, he took the longest pause and he goes, “No. We’re not going to do it. It’ll be good for you. Go do it.” And it was a great thing that he did for me because of course you need a little nudge out of a cushy job, which I had at the time.
Andrew: Why wasn’t Activision going to do it? You hinted at it earlier when you said that it wasn’t big enough, short enough time. Help me understand that.
Scott: Well, Bobby’s got a great strategy. He’s interested in billion dollar brands and billion dollar franchises and platforms that are at mass market. So I think he likes to approach markets like mobile through licensing strategy for many years. And then when it’s a key market that’s proven, he’ll do something like merge with Blizzard and go to the Internet space. So that’s more of his model, which I respect and I think is right for Activision. I think sometimes they lose a little innovation, but for the most part they’ve been able to build value for the last 15 years very steadily.
Andrew: So they don’t want to be the idea labs of their industry?
Scott: That’s not their thing.
Andrew: That’s the thing. I see, I understand. Now, even if he knew that you ended up selling for 680 within six years. If he knew that it was going to be that big in that period of time, would that have been interesting or is that also just not his size?
Scott: Yeah, that would have been interesting.
Scott: But I think he knows it would have been tough in his environment. It’s tough in any big company. This is something that entrepreneurs hear all the time and we heard it at JAMDAT, EA’s going to kill you. Activision’s going to kill you. How are you going to compete with Google? How are you going to compete with Facebook? All right, this is one of the biggest things you’ll hear as an entrepreneur. I what I have to say to that is, ‘You’re not competing with Google, or Facebook, or Activision, or EA. You’re competing with an executive on an understaffed team who’s desperately trying to win a battle with the core business at that company, and who is trying desperately convince somebody, that in Activision’s case, “Oh, we’re not going to spend this money on ‘Call to Duty’ or hire these 20 heads for ‘Call of Duty.’ We’re going to hire them on this mobile business which we can make tens of thousands of dollars this and next year we’ll make hundreds of thousands of dollars.” It’s just an impossible task at a large company. And you can’t underestimate the meaning of that. And I think Bobby knew that about his company and knew that that wouldn’t be a good environment for us.
Andrew: All right. So you had your funding, you had your blessing, what’s the first thing you did after that?
Scott: Well I walked down to Zach Norman’s office, Zach was the first guy I hired at Activision as an consultant in 1994 and I think in 2000 Zach was spending his time at Activision really learning about the MP3 download market and downloading as much music as he could, let’s just say he was underutilized, and I said, “Zach, we’re going to go build this mobile game company.” And he goes, “Okay.” And so the two of us gave notice to Bobby, well I’d already done it, and we went over to eCompanies a few weeks later.
Andrew: What was it about Zach that made you say, “I want to be married this guy,” essentially, ‘in business?’
Scott: It’s been 16 years that I’ve worked side by side with him, so that beats my wife by three years. We, tongue in cheek, we complete each other. We are very complementary as is Austin our third partner who I mentioned came on and founded the company with us. So we’re very complementary and we disagree very constructively and generally come to the right decisions.
Andrew: What is a constructive disagreement? Give an example, what does it look like? Do you have an example?
Scott: Well, at the end you still like and respect and want to work with each other. That you can show passion or creative tension anywhere along the line, “Oh, I kind of disagree with you,” all the way up to, “You’re an idiot,” and it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to be creatively passionate and anywhere along that continuum is OK between three founders who deep down trust and respect each other, and are in it for the long haul, and watch each other’s back. So Zach has my back creatively, he’s much better than I am creatively. Austin has our back on deals, very important deals that he’s done. And I kind of keep watch over, generally, all the pots on the stove.
Andrew: And when you started out, was that the agreement that you had about where each one of you would fit in?
Scott: No. It evolved very organically. We just kind of knew and respected, this is what I do, this is what you do. There’s never been more than three or four conversations about it in our history, it’s just how we approach it, which I think is, you know. I didn’t even realize as I’ve gotten through the business more, I’ve had VCs tell us that it’s very unusual for founders to get along so well, which is actually a shame as I hear that. I’ve had VCs tell me that they spend a lot of time refereeing between founders which it is a shame. We’ve been very lucky.
Andrew: Yeah, actually I don’t really do interviews with entrepreneurs who’ve been with their cofounders this long. Employees, yes, maybe assistants, but not cofounders and I can see why. All right. So you had your team, what’s next?
Scott: We had the start of the team so it was sitting in a room at eCompanies with a blank screen. That’s one of the fondest memories of my career is that day of looking at a blank screen. So it really is, how do you start building momentum? And starting a company is about just getting that wheel spinning and starting momentum. So for me it was about putting together a 30 day plan, a 60 day plan, how are we going to start to validate it? We were already at eCompanies so we did have overlords, if you will.
By the way, eCompanies is an incredible story that hasn’t really been told, but that’s probably for another day.
Andrew: Can you tell us a little bit about just what you have in mind and then I’d love to ask you for an introduction to do an interview about them?
Scott: Well, I don’t think Sky gets enough credit for what happened at eCompanies back in the day because it happened at the end of the Dot Com boom, but when I joined eCompanies it was, Austin Beutner was there running Everycore and he’s potentially the next mayor of Los Angeles, and Jake Winebaum was there, and Scott Painter with his new company, TrueCar will be his most successful company ever, and Mitch Glasky ended up joining there, and a lot of the key executives of JAMDAT joined there, it was really a remarkable time and place in Los Angeles entrepreneurialism. And actually a lot of companies have some sort of a touch point back to eCompanies, back in the day.
Scott: So we got there and it was a tough time. The market has just crashed, March of 2000, it was nuclear winter. We had spent a lot energy on proof points because obviously the sky was falling. And so I did, I said, “Yeah, I played ball.” I set up the first 30, 60 days to think about here’s how can prove this and here’s how we could prove this out, but like most companies it never really comes down to this power point or this rational argument that you can make.
Andrew: What did you say you were going to do in the first 30 days to prove that you were on the right track?
Scott: Yeah, it’s a good question because at the end of the day you really have a tough time on that timeframe to go from scratch to some kind of proof point. But we did do is we started building out a team, a little team, get some engineering talent, get some more design talent, and we started building out a few game concepts and a few games because that’s our bread and butter. And we kind of did a little scatter shot approach, we did a game for Coca Cola to sort of take this marketing approach. So frozen coke was an initiative of theirs, we tried a little game on that.
By the time that eCompanies got the whole mobile thing rolling, they got co-investment from Sprint so that eCompanies wireless incubator was with Sprint. And we spent time with a Sprint executive, who they embedded with us, and we started to build value towards Sprint.
Andrew: So you were going to create a game for Pepsi to launch on Sprint, I see, and Sprint would ensure that you’d be on-deck as they said on the carrier deck. I gotcha.
Scott: That’s right. So I everyone had skin in the game and that would have created a little bit of traction, but like all great moments in startups it wasn’t the plan that did it. I think it was really, one day Sky called me and he said, “Hey, do you want to go down to Qualcomm and meet the guys at Qualcomm, and we’re going to pitch the whole wireless portfolio, 15 company concepts and we want you to pitch your company.”
And I went down there and we met the Jacobs brothers, Paul and Jeff Jacobs. And I’ve got to be honest, I had no idea who they were. I don’t come from the wireless business, so I don’t know that these guys are the sons of the founder of Qualcomm and Paul Jacobs would be taking over. So we just sat in a room talked and they pitched all the companies and then I pitched, at the time we called it “Athens”, it’s a code name for JAMDAT, and I pitched the company and they nodded. And at the end of the meeting they said, “The only company we want to talk about it is the game company because,” Paul Jacobs is saying this, “I think games is going to be it and we’re going to be building a platform games and we want to be involved in this company.” So that was it. That was the most important meeting of the company and we built a relationship.
Andrew: And because you partnered up with them and they had a platform, an operating system I guess, that needed games like yours, your software they rolled you out to everyone that they were working with.
Scott: We just got an early start on what would become JAMDAT’s number source, which was BREW and Verizon and that was the day that it started in the concept phase, as to just talked across the table.
Andrew: It was who and Verizon?
Scott: BREW was the platform that Verizon used to power Get it Now originally.
Andrew: Right. Okay, I see.
Scott: And that was far and away JAMDAT’s number one revenue source for years. And again, it starts that day. It wasn’t about Frozen Coke, it wasn’t about the power point or the proof points, it was about this opportunistic meeting that came out of the blue because of Sky, I think Sky asked me to go because he couldn’t go. And those are the things that really matter and just being ready for those moments is what matters.
Andrew: What did you do to make yourself ready for that moment? Why were you ready, beyond the fact that you worked in the game industry for so long? You were running a new company. What was it about the new company that, by then, was ready?
Scott: In that meeting I have to say I was ready because I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know who the Jacobs brothers were so I was very informal and casual and chatty. And Paul and I got along on engineering ideas and he talked about games that he had developed secretly that people didn’t know about and some other things. So it was really more about my passion for our vision and just about how we both believe that this is going to be something that would revolutionized mobile.
Andrew: I see. You know what though? Even though Sprint didn’t end up being that home run the relationship with Sprint seemed to give you an entry that other entrepreneurs, who I’ve talked to here, had to fight a long time to get. How did you get a relationship with Sprint and the opportunity then to show your games to so many people?
Scott: Well, interestingly Sprint was JAMDAT’s number two revenue source forever.
Andrew: I see, okay.
Scott: So it was good, it was an important number two.
Yeah, it was interesting, this is something that Sky provided on eCompanies Wireless. This is a model I do believe in, incubators with real good domain expertise. So the model of bringing in a carrier who was willing to embed a really talented executive named Tom Ellsworth, who became JAMDAT’s CMO, and really teach a team. Tom taught us how to speak carrier. So he would literally sit with us and say, ‘No, no, you’re not going to tell them that. Let me tell you how a carrier really thinks. ‘
Andrew: Can you tell me how a carrier really thinks? What did you learn from him back then that you didn’t know?
Scott: Right. So we would say, what every off the slide says to a carrier pitch in 2000 is, ‘We’re going to raise your ARPU, we’re going to drive more minutes of use and we’re going to raise your revenue.’ Well, Tom was pointing out that, even then, you’ll dealing with someone with limited plans, and unlimited data is starting to creep into the lexicon, and using over you plan or under you plan. And he started to teach us that actually yield was important as raising ARPU or raising utilization, actually raising utilization. So a user that was using more of their plan, up to 100%, was less attractive to a carrier, at the point, than someone was using less of their paid for plan or going over and paying overage fees.
Andrew: How do you influence that as a game maker?
Scott: Well, we’re driving data and we’re driving minute. I’m not sure how many people remember this but, the first game we did for Sprint was a multiplayer WAP game called ‘Gladiator’ that went through the roof. It was doing something like seven million monthly actives on Sprint, within a few months. It was just a massive hit.
Andrew: Seven million?
Andrew: I didn’t even know seven million people at the time knew that they could install anything on their phone.
Scott: It was the biggest thing, I think I heard that it was showing up on Sprint overall network utilization reports. And those are being billed as minutes, which was interesting because we’d see our highest peaks at 9:00 p.m. at night when free nights and weekends would come on because people were aware that I got to do this at night. So it was very interesting, we were in a minutes. So understanding their mindset was important to just not going in, and I see this all the time, “Oh, I’m just going to pitch, we’re going to raise your ARPU, we’re going to raise your utilization.” Well people don’t realize they’re saying the exact opposite thing. So you need this domain expertise.
And I imagine that this is something that Y Combinator brings and this is something that VCs bring, and this is something that Kleiner’s trying to do with the iFund and the sFund. I’m a big believer in that domain expertise really providing important guidance, I’ve seen companies successfully come out of it.
Andrew: I see. All right. I can understand too that if you were just an entrepreneur starting off on your own and wanted to have that kind of connection, that bond with Sprint, you wouldn’t have been able to do it and at the same time build your business and find your team and do everything else that goes with it.
Scott: My partner Austin likes to joke that, it’s a true story but we have to chuckle about it, it still took us seven months to do our revenue share deal with Sprint and they were an investor. So I would hate to think what was going on for non investor at the time. That was white-glove service I think.
Andrew: And not that we shouldn’t, but today we get frustrated when we can’t on the iPhone within a week because it’s taking them so long. I’m not saying that that’s the right to go, but still I can’t imagine seven months in comparison.
Scott: I do come at the iPhone thing with a little different perspective on some of these issues.
Andrew: I can imagine.
Scott: As well as Nintendo all those years and some of these other providers.
Andrew: Let’s see what else. Data mining, I looked at, I think it was GOGII’s website and I clicked this it said, ‘When you were at JAMDAT you built, scaled, and managed JAMDAT’s technology, community, data mining and industry leading deployment, and OEM efforts.’ Data mining just stood out for me. I wanted to ask you, what kind of data mining were you doing?
Scott: Yeah, in the first two years of JAMDAT, again, we were trying to think of strategies to make us a little more relevant to the carriers than just somebody trying to come early days and sell games. So we built across ‘Gladiator’, and some of our other games, a really leading data mining platform, which was so, I think, more advanced than some of the carrier platforms for applications that we decided it was a business that we could actually sell to carriers. So Austin actually went out and started doing deals to sell our data mining for application usage to carriers.
Andrew: What kind of data could you mine from a game?
Scott: Everything. We were doing what basically Zynga says today, A/B testing, looking at different funnels across our products, looking at what behavior a user would do, which would then turn them into a power user.
Andrew: I could see that would be useful for you as the game maker, but who else would that be useful for?
Scott: Carriers in a way are sometimes slave to their big technology providers. Commerce, I think, is still a big building platform provider. They’ve got all these big, historically, billing providers who if they ask them for a customer report on something it’s three months and $3 million to do it. And you know these guys are interested, ‘Well how are people consuming these new products? How are people using them? What handsets,’ and this is an important one, ‘What handsets are downloading the most gigs?’ And so they’d call us, ‘Hey, guys, JAMDAT, what’s the number one handset for ‘Gladiator’? Oh, that handset. Yeah, we might spin that a little bit towards gamers. We might do some marketing because we understand that that particular handset now.’
This is a business that segments their audience. They sell to everyone. So for them it’s important to know what handset is for their early adopters, what handset is for their casual game players. These are big decisions for them.
Andrew: So when we see a commercial from a carrier with a phone that’s being pitched as a game device, it’s because they knew it was a game device based on your data?
Scott: Back then that might have been the case. Now they’ll position, of course, they’ll position a device towards a certain segment.
Andrew: Now, they could get that themselves? Verizon couldn’t just look at their data and say, “Ah, look.” No?
Scott: No, because we’re hosting the application.
Scott: So back then it was very hard to get data back. So at the end of the day we decided not to sell the data. We decided that maybe a way to get more cozy with the carriers was to give them any data they asked for, for free.
Andrew: I see.
Scott: And then use the data ourselves competitively to be better. So an example is, in “Gladiator” we switch a quick play mode in the menu. It used to be multiplayer and quick play, and we switched the order and we saw it increase in usage. Another key insight, back in the day, what that . . .
Andrew: What was it? I love that. Tell me that again, I’m sorry, it [inaudible] to play?
Scott: In mobile every kind of click you have to take or every kind of scroll you have to do just bleeds audience. It’s really a very sensitive medium. So even in ‘Gladiator’ were the menu was literally, I think it was ‘Click on multiplayer and then quick play, ‘which was single player, we swapped those and usage went way up.
Andrew: Oh, wow. You were going to give me another one of those. I love insight like that.
Scott: Every business likes to discover, if a user does this we’ve got them, or if the user does this, they’ll pay. For us in “Gladiator,” if somebody took the time to enter a war crime, we called it, which is basically a shout out that everybody sees when that person wins, then they were likely to play x times per day and in our significant heavy load. So these were just some of the insights that we played with at the time. It’s very forward thinking, I think.
Andrew: You know what? The reason that I love that, I want to explain it so it doesn’t come across like I love to just study the text on a button. It’s that little distinctions like that have so much impact that if you’re a building a great product, for example, but your copywriting stinks, so the way you explain it is confusing, you might as well have not built a great product in the first place. And if you know the opposite that a great description or a useful description can increase sells, sometimes you want to focus on that more than you’d realize otherwise.
Scott: Yep. Subtle differences can make huge impact in product.
Andrew: I talk to entrepreneurs today, in fact I talked to web app maker Jason Fried of 37signals who said he’s just now starting to fully appreciate that. And just recently at 37signals they hired a data guy to do this for them. You, even back then even with restricted technology, you were able to do these tests. How did you know? How were you able to do it?
Scott: Yeah, I’ll give credit to, at the time, our CTO Shumeet Baluja who was chief scientist at Lycos before he joined our team. A heavyweight and went on from JAMDAT to, I think, Google in the early 2000s. So he brought that perspective with him and converted us very easily on the power of, in fact it’s kind of a drug once you get this data you’re like, “I need more of this data.” I mean, every executive has to make decisions dozens of times a day and to have something where you can literally say, “Oh, yeah that worked,” or, “that didn’t work or we can focus on this and make a difference,” is so positive.
Andrew: Yeah, it doesn’t seem like it would be fun and maybe outside of my audience that’s the dullest thing that anyone can do, study data like that, but man, I get high on that too. I love it.
Scott: It’s great. I think people worry about, especially in games, “Well how do you coexist data and vision? And is one at odds with the other?” And the truth is, I think they can coexist very nicely. At the end of the day I always tell people, and again it’s a little tongue in cheek but, “If you’re A/B testing A and B both have to be pretty good for that to be an effective test.” And that’s were vision starts to play in.
Andrew: I see.
Scott: We were able to switch to menu items and see success, but they were the right menu items. So you had to go there and vision still has very much a roll to play with data, they can coexist.
Andrew: Let’s see what else I’ve got here. I’m just looking at my notes to see that I’ve covered everything. You had an original bowling game, I remember that. Tetris, Lord of the Rings, let’s see what else. IPO, how did life change after you went public.
Scott: It was good that I was at Activision as an officer for so many quarters because I was used to public company life, although we were definitely not in a Sarbanes era when I was at Activision and JAMDAT was public in the Sarbanes-Oxley era, so that’s different. But I’m not sure that at the end of the day that I’m a fan of what the marketplace does to a company in terms of really narrowing your horizon a little bit and starting to put you into short term thinking, and starting to have to spend so much time respond to market information that isn’t perceived correctly or may not even be the best thing for the company.
Andrew: Do you remember an example of that?
Scott: Well, one thing we looked back on at JAMDAT, and it’s worked out, EA Mobile just had a $70 million mobile quarter it was great, I’m very proud of those guys, and a $230 million year so they’re still the market leader, but back in the day, we worry about and we think, ‘Should we have been so profitable?’ We really told story about our business throwing off so much margin, which was great and everybody loves that and that’s the point of business, isn’t it? But at the end of the day that was at a sacrifice to future investment. And we may have been able to build a bigger business had we invested a little more aggressively during that time.
Andrew: I see.
Scott: But once you’re at a certain margin level, going back to Wall Street and saying, “Yeah, we’re going to be throwing off 6% instead of 20%.” That’s a tough story to tell, it takes a lot of courage to do that and a lot of finesse to pull it off successfully.
Andrew: When your margins were public did the carriers try to squeeze you or reduce your margins in their favor?
Scott: One did, but it I don’t think our margins were related. Sometimes carriers are not as sensitive to ecosystem economics, I think, as they could be. And a carrier model on occasion, this is a generalization, for driving more revenue for themselves would be to cut splits, rather than thinking, ‘How do we grow this ecosystem?’ So it wasn’t really driven by that, but I will say that there was a real polarity between the JAMDAT team in terms of their net worth and a lot of other people in the ecosystem, whether they be carriers or other providers, and that did change the dynamic a little bit.
Andrew: Oh, you’re saying that when you’re talking to an executive at a carrier and you or one of your guys just had IPO shares that made them wealthy it creates an imbalance in the relationship. And how does it affect the conversation?
Scott: Well, it came up more than you might think.
Andrew: What do you mean? How does it come up in conversation?
Scott: “Ah, I’m making you guys rich,” is a typical thing.
Andrew: Oh, I see. I see.
Scott: This is something that you have to deal with and again it goes back to kind of an ecosystem. At the end of the day we’re all tied together and really what should have happened was that JAMDAT was just the tip of the iceberg for everybody as this . . .
Andrew: They should have said, “How do we get more people like JAMDAT and use their story to excite more developers, the way that Apple did.”
Scott: And how do we, more importantly, excite the stakeholders, the Motorolas, the Verizons, the Sprints, to now double down on this business and say, “Oh, there’s value creation here. There’s something special. How do we take this to the next level?”
Andrew: I’ve had customers say, ‘Andrew, I’m making you rich. And we’ve all had situations like that. How do we respond to that?
Scott: I think you have to go back to how do we get this imbalance? How do we all succeed? I mean, listen to what Apple, I’m not sure that we’ve gotten there yet, but listen to what Apple say, ‘We’re doing this for our developers. We’re trying to build this ecosystem together. We’re making this decision because it’s not fair across the ecosystem. How do we build this?’ And if you’re really building a ecosystem, in a healthy ecosystem all parties are looking at each other probably saying, “Wow, we made each other rich.’ I certainly think that that was the case when I was in the videogame business and we were meeting with Nintendo or PlayStation executives, there was much more of like, “This is great.” And Best Buy, “More games, let’s get more games. How do we do more of this? How do we protect this?’
Andrew: I see. So if a guy is giving me a multimillion dollar check and saying, “Andrew, I’m making you rich with this.” And feeling a since of resentment towards the person he’s paying. I should tell them story of Best Buy and Apple and say, “No, the goal is how do we get more people like me so that you can become the king pin here, or whatever.”
Scott: How do we get this ecosystem to be all are boats are rising.
Andrew: In this Sunday’s New York Times, Tina Brown said, and I actually pulled it out in my little quote notebook here, she says, “There’s nobody more boring than the undefeated.” So far up until now we’ve talked about success, success, success. Tell me about one of the setbacks?
Scott: Okay, well JAMDAT was I think a relatively straight forward business for us. I’ll tell you a story to offset JAMDAT just a little bit. “Gladiator” I told you was this monster hit in terms of usage, but we didn’t make a dime, not a dime. It was just a terrible engine for creating revenue. So there was a real disconnect. So at the one hand there was a lot of pride in the fact that we created this monster hit, the first of its kind, we were way ahead and on the other hand there was a lot of consternation about the fact that we weren’t seeing any return on it.
And I’ll give Mitch Lasky, our CEO at the time, credit for this decision. He took us out of that business. We were probably the leading WAP company in the world and on a Wednesday in 2002 probably he said, “We’re never spending another dime the WAP business and none of you are allowed to work on the WAP business anymore, and it’s done.” And he went as far as to give interview in the press, he said, “WAP is F-ing dead.” So Mitch’s style at the time was really, “We’re going to burn the boats on this.”
So it was a real defeat for the company. We’d spent so much time on it, our data mining tools were tied to it and we really didn’t necessarily have a lot of prospects that we were sure about moving forward.
Andrew: I’m sorry. I don’t understand why it wasn’t profitable considering how many millions of people played. Were you charging for the game or was the carrier charging?
Scott: No, we had a revenue share with the carriers.
Andrew: The revenue was coming from users paying per minute?
Andrew: So then why wouldn’t you see a share of that?
Scott: At the end of the day it was too complicated a revenue share, again, based on profitable minutes of usage and based on overages.
Andrew: I see. And even though you had an inside guy and you understood what was profitable minutes and what was not, it was such a complicated agreement that you didn’t end up seeing much from it. It was kind of like being a musician for the record industry.
Scott: That’s right.
Andrew: I see.
Scott: So does that make it a little less boring?
Andrew: I think Tina Brown would approve.
Final question about JAMDAT and then I want to move on to GOGII then, the follow up project that you’re working on right now. You sell the business. I gave the number out. What does it feel like the day after you sell or right after your signature is on the paper?
Scott: It was good. As I tell people we spent a year or two being laughed at, literally, by people who thought that this would never be a business, it would never be an industry, it would never take off. There’s a lot of doubt in an entrepreneur’s mind it was a real roller coaster so I think that day I kind of thought, “Wow, this really happened, we really did this. Or little vision that day where we were sitting in front of a blank and five years later this happens.” And that’s that feeling of momentum. And every day you’re building it you’re spinning that wheel a little stronger.
I’ll tell you two things. One is, I’m so glad I did it. And I’d felt that way before with the IPO and I felt that way, but I really remember that day talking to Bobby and that doubt in my mind about whether I should really do this on my own or at Activision. And boy, for entrepreneurs I know who watch your program, I’ve never seen a successful company that wasn’t started. So it sound trite, but you’ve got to start the company. So I think that that day I really thought about how important it was that we actually did it. And that was the day to celebrate that.
Now, secondly, I’ll tell you that, as a culture we were never that big into celebration. So, a little time for reflection, a little excitement, a smile on your face, but we’re going to work for EA the next day and in fact we’d been working with them closely for three months. And our culture is kind of like, “We’re back at it.”
Andrew: Yeah, I see. You work for them for about, I think you worked for them for under a year and then within a year you started all whole new company.
Scott: The time line has not exactly worked out that way, but we took some time off after EA, but generally . . .
Andrew: So what did you do during that time off? You personally.
Scott: I spent time with my kids, did some travel.
Andrew: Where did you go?
Scott: I have young kids, so no place. I traveled around to see relatives.
Andrew: I see.
Scott: I booked some long overdue face time, my family’s on the east coast. So we spent time there. We spend time just around North America, Mexico, skiing, but really it was good. I got to see my three-year old son every day at the time and our relationship really benefited from that, even to this day.
And then after a few months Zach, and Austin, and I would meet once a week and talk about company ideas and that was the way we built that momentum again, which is all about . . .
Andrew: Can you tell me about some of the ideas that you discarded? Sometimes just seeing you go through that mental exercise is just as useful as knowing what you hit with.
Scott: Yeah. We have a list of about 50 companies that we came up with at that time and some of them were, I think immediately after JAMDAT and EA we were a little burnt out, which is why I took some time off to refill the batteries, and we were in a very funny mood. So something that Zach wanted to do, Zach doesn’t sleep so he watches all this late night TV. And all these 30 minute infomercials and he wanted to do one of those, he was convinced. And Zach can design anything. So he wanted us to build a barbeque tool that both basted and braised, wait it basted and, I don’t know. He called it the “Braster.” And it was a barbeque tool, we’d make it in China, he had a whole plan.
Andrew: So you don’t have to stand on the top of it and just keep hydrating your meat?
Scott: Yeah, that’ right. And so this is what entrepreneurs do when there a little burnt out on software. They have this fantasy about building stuff in China and selling it on TV. On the software side he wanted us to build like brain games, which were popular at the time and sell it on late-night TV. So those were ideas that we discounted very quickly.
But there was a lot of mobile ideas. We were very committed to mobile so about 80% of our ideas were related to mobile and we really focused on them.
Andrew: So you knew mobile because it was growing and because you knew the space. That would be it?
Scott: There’s that vine. There’s that easy jump from vine to vine.
Andrew: I see.
Scott: It didn’t have to be games, but we wanted it to be mobile, a0 because we were passionate and b) because now we brought a lot of assets to the table.
Andrew: Okay So I understand the reason for mobile. What else were you looking for? Were you looking for network effect companies? What criteria did you have?
Scott: So, I’ll tell you exactly what drove the idea for GOGII and GOGII is our short code 60611.
Andrew: Yes. If you look at it on the screen it actually looks like the word GOGII on capital letters, which is why GOGII is often represented in capital letters.
Scott: That’s right.
Andrew: I’m glad that you explained that.
Scott: So we kind of settled on messaging. And we settle on messaging for probably three or four reasons. One is, that we had come out of this JAMDAT experience, me particularly where I had run this deployment team and built JAMDAT’s deployment business, where we would need to do 5,000 ports to put a product out worldwide and we were doing that regularly. We were doing tens of thousands of versions of our software every quarter.
Andrew: I read that actually you said soon after JAMDAT, ‘I just got burned out on all the porting that has to happen to get games on worldwide distribution on a phone.’ You kept having to recreate the game on every different phone for every different carrier.
Scott: That’s right. So you’re spending a tremendous about of time, that could into creating something new, into reworking something old.
Andrew: I see. That’s why text messaging made so much sense.
Scott: That’s right.
Andrew: One standard. Okay. I get that, okay.
Scott: So we look at text messaging and that’s wow, standard, ubiquitous. Games 15% of the market, text messaging 80%, 90% of the people do that. So we’re trading up in terms of penetration and ubiquity.
Number two, and this is the same thing that I thought when Nokia came to pitch us that time, like they asked for the wrong games. So I didn’t like the mindset. Well text messaging, 20 to 25 years old, believe it or not, no innovation whatsoever. So when we see a product like that that’s a cash cow, that’s so ubiquitous and there’s not a lick of innovation, that’s what interest us as entertainment guys, game guys. Make it more fun. So the was an important part of the thesis.
Scott: And then, JAMDAT was all about feature phones. It was all about the first color screen phones coming online and replacing all those dumb phones. That was the business, that’s how we communicated our IPO to Wall Street. That in a way we were a proxy for investing in feature phone penetration. And we were facing the very same phenomena with the smart phones. And we thought there’s no way that text messaging survives smart phones as-is.
So those are probably the three most important. I guess the fourth one was that we were aware of who was using text messaging, which was teenagers and we were aware that that was their social life. So we also thought we would go young and work on innovating text messaging for teenagers and young adults.
Andrew: Okay. Today I know you as the app company not the short code company. In fact until I researched this interview, even though I have your software on my phone, I have textPlus, I had too because it kept popping up as a top selection on the App Store, I still didn’t know about the short code for text messaging. What was the original product built on top of it and then what happened to it?
Scott: Yeah, that’s a very interesting question. Maybe we got too smart for our own good. We thought that what we would is we use GOGII to create an almost alternate reality product where text messaging would be very disruptive to all these technologies that would have to be embedded in the handset, like looking through the viewer or QR codes. We thought, “Okay. Text messaging is there. It’s so much easier, it’s like a web URL for text. We’re going to build a company that does that as the revenue model.”
Now there is no way we could build that company from scratch. There’s no way you can convince somebody that that’s interesting or to do it. So we kind of took a page out of MySpace’s book and I think they deserve credit for this, they built a revenue model on top of social engagement. That’s something at their peak I think they were doing $600 million a year, and everything was fine and they let everything go and then one day they decided, “All right now you got to pay brands and you’re going to have to do this.”
So we thought about that backwards. We thought, “Let’s give all the social texting functionality away and then over time we’ll build this piece on top of it once we have a huge brand and huge market.” We’ll we never got past the social piece and after a few months we realized we’re never going to get past this, that’s the company it’s just too engaging. That’s why you don’t see the short cut stuff.
Andrew: You were thinking that if a user like me or a teenager would see a movie poster, instead of a URL or one of those QR codes that I would take a picture of to go to the website I would just go text 60611 and that’s what I would text to and then I would put whatever code you told you me to, and then boom, I’d get a link or some information about the movie, that’s the idea. And you said, “I can’t get all these movie companies to put me on their posters until I have a good community of texters. How do I get a good community of texters? Well, I’ll let them talk to each other.”
I get that thinking now. First of all I see exactly. That makes sense. That’s why I love to do these interviews, I love to see the way your mind works, how you think through what business to get into and how you think of how to penetrate it and then how you end up doing it. So you say, “I want to get this community of texters.” How do you initially get the community of texters?
Scott: Well you want to be credible. You want to be very genuine. First of all I walk into a market of texting, which sometimes you hear mixed things about, “Oh, young people are texting too much.” You know we don’t enter it with that mindset. We enter with the fact that, here’s a generation of people who’ve selected text as their voice. This is how they communicate. Now start there from a position of respect and that that’s happened and now let’s look at what’s not happening for them. They’re not able to text in groups.
Andrew: Was groups the first thing you did?
Scott: It was the first thing we did.
Andrew: I see. So how do you respond to that if they can’t talk in groups?
Scott: So two or three things we did initially, free texting, it’s add supported, group texting, and just a little nicer experience where you have an avatar picture, a nicer one.
Andrew: I see. So was the first thing free texting because they had to pay a ton of money in order to text each other?
Andrew: And then second thing, I can completely understand you about groups. It makes no sense that I when I go out with my friends or if I try to coordinate something, I have to text them both with one message and then get two messages back that I have to communicate to each of them to let them know what the other said. And that’s the way standard texting works.
Scott: Talk about an oversight. How did that happen? How did that happen for so long? We’re the email generation, right? Well, you’re younger than I am, but could you imagine not being able to cc somebody on an email, and that going on for 20 years?
Andrew: Okay. I actually for a long time didn’t see it as a problem. I just saw it as an inherent element of the product instead of seeing what you saw, which was the problem with it. Then if I would have seen the problem with it and known that this was a new way of communicating for a younger generation, I’d have brought up the problem that you addressed earlier, which is the carriers are going to see this, they have the system for texting, it’s the future for them along with data and less so with voice, what do we do when they come in? What was your answer to that?
Scott: Well, so for us we’re always moving. Our vision for the company would be, ‘We’ll do this core utility piece, free, groups, and then we’ll migrate through social very quickly.’ I do think group texting will become a utility off the shelf at some point, it has to. Now we know it would take a while because there are certain things that, we have an advantage when someone down loads our app to have interoperability where as the carriers, it requires a lot more work to do some of that interoperability outside of MMS. But we were always moving, we were always ready for the next thing. We always knew that where we would go from utility would be to make texting more social and really pioneer mobile social messaging. And that’s been the vision for the company for some time and that kind of leads you, I know you wanted to ask the question about doubling our traffic and all that.
Andrew: Yes, I was going to. What did you do to double your traffic?
Scott: We put in users search. It was that simple, we gave people profiles and over time we made those profiles richer and then we allowed people to search. And you can opt in or opt out of search, but you can search in our platform. So now it’s starting to become more of a destination for texters. And were as two years ago I would have said the problem is you can’t group text, you can’t group message. Today I say the problem is, you’re spending an hour a day in your messaging client and our users spend sometimes over an hour, on average, and you can’t meet and you can’t explore and you can’t discover. And so for the last year we’ve been doing a lot about search and discovery.
Andrew: Search meaning, I find my friend who has . . .
Scott: No, a new friend. So meeting someone new.
Andrew: And meeting someone new? Like if I’m into Justin Bieber, which apparently also have groups around the people including Justin Bieber, if I want to make someone else who’s a fan, I could do a search and find that fan.
Scott: You can go two ways. You can search for users by Justin Bieber or you can search for communities, I think we have tens of thousands of Justin Bieber communities, and look through descriptions and find one that fits.
A good example is horse lovers. I always love that one. We have a lot of horse lover communities. So people come in, they have horses, the look for horse lovers, they join a horse lover community, every day they post a picture of their horse, talk to their new friends, ‘Oh, this is what my horse did today,’ and it’s very interesting. Hot rods, Justin Bieber, and at the end of the day the conversation may leave the topic of the community, but you become friends virtually with these people.
Andrew: All right. I heard that also happened at MySpace too. I know we’re coming at the end of our time together so I want to make sure I hit everything that’s in my notes, or as much of it as I can get to including and especially revenue. You’ve said before that you can achieve high growth and be in that growth mode and at the same time monetize. How do you do that right?
Scott: Well, it’s always a balance. I think we’ve probably left behind users because of our monetization. But at the same time we’re probably much bigger because we’ve been able to do kind of passive monetization, like advertising and not put up purchase ads. So it’s a balance. Part of it’s cultural between L.A. and Silicon Valley. We have a lot of Silicon Valley investors and they’ve seen a lot of success by building companies with surface area, with users, so I love walking down that road a little bit and thinking about surface area, and thinking about users, and thinking about locking users in today, and worrying about revenue tomorrow. At the same time, I think, you don’t want to get users used to the fact that out of the gate this product is not worth my money or it has no value. So we’ve worked very hard to do the opposite, we’ve basically said to people, “Look, you know this has value. We’re the only reason you can do this in some cases. You know that specifically it has a monetary value.” Or to be very up front with users and say, “This advertising supports us giving you these features.” We try to be very up front.
Andrew: The ads and also the upgrades, which is things like get you own personal phone number, whatever area code you want and so on. I can see the down side of that. The down side of giving it all away for free without any ads is that you’re turning some people off, as you said, and giving some customers to your competitors. What’s the upside of seeing ad revenue and the freemium revenue?
Scott: Well, I’ll kind of conjure my inner Mark Pincus here and say, “Revenue gives you control for your company.”
Andrew: What do you mean?
Scott: If your company is profitable or achieving revenues, you’re not in storytelling mode about what the value is. This is a business, we’re in control. We can spend what we want to spend to build this business. We’re driving profits, there’s an obvious value. It’s give you tremendous piece of mind as an entrepreneur to know that what you’re producing is valuable to your users, they’re willing to pay you for it, and you’re able to build your business against that revenue.
Andrew: You mean, by using it to market your product?
Scott: Use it to hire engineers. If you’re not making revenue then your financing your company through venture capital.
Andrew: I see.
Scott: Which is great. That’s why they’re there, but venture capital goes through things like 2008 or March of 2000. It’s not completely in your control.
Andrew: I see.
Scott: Revenues are not in your control completely either, but I think if you ask any CEO, they’ll tell you, “Yeah, building products of value, users have proven they’ll pay you for that value, that feels like more control to me than thinking about a market or worrying about a market, or explaining how we’ll make value downstream.”
Andrew: I see. And I’ve heard you also in talking about revenue and growth talking about Twitter. If you were the CEO of Twitter you would have put in a monetization strategy, maybe not day one, but right from the beginning?
Scott: I’m not going to question anything those guys did.
Andrew: Right. Just about your personality in their shoes would’ve been.
Scott: They hired Adam Bain recently as their head of monetization. I think Adam’s terrific. That would have been a great move early on.
Andrew: I see.
Scott: And the DNA into to the company. We don’t need to do this now. Adam could be there and say, “We don’t need to do this now. We could still grow, but let’s put some abilities to turn this on. Let’s try a few things. Let’s give people a taste for where this might go so when it happens they won’t be so surprised.”
Andrew: And so you learn about it along the way you’re saying?
Scott: You learn about it along the way. We’ve learned a lot.
Andrew: For example?
Scott: Okay. We don’t put ads in our text messages. So that is, yesterday’s Mother’s Day, we did upwards of 50 million messages yesterday maybe more. It was a huge day. Glad to say American youth and young people are still texting their mothers or at least contacting their mothers, but not one of those had an advertisement in it and that’s because people are very sensitive about the scarring of that experience. We’ve learned that over time. We’ve learned where you can push that and where you can, you know.
Andrew: Because you’ve tested it before and you got the feedback?
Andrew: I see, okay.
Scott: And that doesn’t mean that we won’t do it in the future. We do a little taste of it here and there. We have a home takeover of our app and do advertising and we know where the right frequency is for how many times people would like see it maximum click through and then it become annoying. We know how long it should take for the app to load and nothing we should do in our advertising can interfere with that key milestone. So these are the things that you learn over time and what doesn’t work. We’ve tried this stuff now for three years. We’ve been in the market trying every piece of advertising and In-App and how to convert In-App and best practices. It’s a tremendous asset for our company.
Andrew: So I see, I see. And then if you would have instead followed the Silicon Valley of waiting ’til you had 15, 20 million people and then tested it, you wouldn’t have had the three years of experience and the audience wouldn’t have been trained for three years that this is part of the model, we’re trying to figure out how to make this profitable for both of us.
Scott: Yeah. That’s right. That’s what I believe. As I said, there’s certain people, Twitter, Facebook, I won’t doubt anything those guys do. They’re in a different league in terms of pushing that surface area model.
Andrew: What does surface area mean? Oh, covering the surface, I see.
Scott: Yeah, just getting it out there. It’s so important a product, I think textPlus is in that category. This is so important a product and so new of a concept that getting it out to users right now could be the whole strategy, but as I said I believe in learning along the way.
Andrew: So all right. Final question, I told you before this interview that for some reason I didn’t think of you guys as being a being as huge as you were and I kept focusing on these little guys who would raise money in the group chat system and I didn’t think of you until Mark Schuster said, “No one’s paying attention. These guys have over seven million.” The question is this, why are we paying attention to these small guys who get funding and who we think so much about them, when compared to you, they’re tiny, they don’t have traction, they don’t have anything but an idea, why don’t you get that kind of attention?
Scott: That’s a good question. (A) we’re a little broader. So for me I think group texting is an important feature. I don’t necessarily think it’s a company. I think companies in that space now will evolve to be a little broader themselves. But I think as broader company sometimes you don’t get thought of, as you said, “Oh, I’m going to do a story about these shards of features and oh, yeah, I didn’t think to bring in the one that does that and this other stuff.”
Andrew: I see.
Scott: I think mobile does in particular reward sharing and I think the app space does reward sharing, at least from that initial story. It is very to say, “Here’s the thing we’re focused on,” as a story, “this is what we’re doing.” Now what we’re doing is we’re pioneering mobile social messaging. So that’s not, “We’re the best group texting company out there,” that’s not the same message. So it’s a little diffuse. And so I think that’s part of it. Our strategy in PR has been consumer PR. And we are really going after our audience in cementing credibility with our users and driving user growth. And I think that’s a reason why we’re the number 36 app of all time, textPlus according to the Apple.
Andrew: Number 36 app in the App Store you said.
Scott: In the App Store.
Andrew: I didn’t know that.
Scott: And that’s on the free chart. So that’s I would say the 36 most downloaded app of all time according to Apple’s chart.
Andrew: The top 35 are all, what’s that game?
Andrew: Bluebirds, it’s seems like in different flavors.
Scott: Yeah, it’s nice Twitter’s up there, Google, and Facebook, it’s great to be in that spot.
So I think our PR strategy had been maybe not so geared a thought leader in the group texting space and I think we’ll have to change that. I mean, we’ll have to get out there and say, “You know what? It’s been three years we’ve been in this space. We can share some things we know and learned.” So that’s on me to do that.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah.
Scott: I think you’ll see me doing that more often.
Andrew: Well, I’m glad you did it here. I hope you come back because I’m still looking at, I do insane research here and I have a list of things that I was curious about. Like I’m curious about how you got to 7.5 million people. How do you even crack a million people considering all the competition? I didn’t get to ask you about, you said once about JAMDAT that it’s addictive to version. I curious about what it takes to create that addictive connection with the audience, but we already went an hour and 15 including our pre-interview.
Scott: Really. I flew, wow. Thanks.
Andrew: Well, I’d love to have you back. Thanks for doing the interview.
Scott: Any time. Thank you very much. It was a pleasure.
Andrew: All right. Thank you all for watching. Bye.