Great Hiring – Nothing is More Important

Link to my post at The Huffington Post See it there…. Or here it is in full below…

I remember back to when I started at Electronic Arts, in 1987, when the company was a small video game publisher no one had heard of. After several interviews (close to 10) I was then interviewed by the CEO, Trip Hawkins. The company at that time was around 100 people and the CEO was the last interview before anyone was hired. And he interviewed everyone. I remember that continued for several more years, until the company grew to hundreds of employees and started to have multiple offices around the world. I was starting at the bottom of the organization, and I will admit, at the time he interviewed me I thought it was odd. A CEO taking time out to interview EVERYONE the company hires? How could he have enough time? Doesn’t he have better things to do? Is he a control freak? But now having been involved as a CEO or board member in several early stage companies in the 30 to 200 employee size I can see the true value and dramatic impact of this strategy. Continue reading

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Consumer App Audiences; Here today, gone tomorrow…

I read these numbers in a blog post by Christina Cordova of Stripe. “The Biggest Problem in Mobile: Retention” (tweeted by my friend Peter Horan)

Socialcam: In June, Socialcam had 83.6M monthly active users connected to Facebook. Today, it has 4.3M. This is a decrease of 95% in 5 months.

Viddy: In June, Viddy had 20.9M monthly active users connected to Facebook. Today, it has 660K. This a decrease of 97% in 5 months.

Draw Something: In April, Draw Something had 36.5M monthly active users connected to Facebook. Today, it has 9.1M. This is a decrease of 75% in 7 months.

It got me thinking, how can anyone build a consumer business that lasts on Facebook or mobile? Are those examples more typical or abnormal? To me they seem more common than rare. It feels like we hear about declines like this all the time. Continue reading

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Massive Disruptions in Today’s Game Industry

Link to my post at The Huffington Post See it there…. Or here it is in full below…

When most people think of a market or an industry “disruption” they think of a single fundamental change in the business. Maybe the way products are distributed, or a significant reduction in the cost of a product, or a change in the way people buy the product (e.g. from a sale to a rental, or offline to online), or a variety of other issues that fundamentally change that market or industry. The point being is that they usually think of a single change that is disruptive….

But in the games business today, and over the last couple years, the changes that are occurring are happening on four fundamental pillars of the business; Distribution, Product, Marketing, and Pricing. And as if that was not challenging enough, because four elements of the business are changing at once it can be very hard to even decipher, let alone respond to, as the parts are so interconnected. So if a new strategy to react to the changing market only correctly addresses one or two parts that are changing in the business and doesn’t fully understand and address the others, the company will fail at navigating into the new era. Continue reading

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The Beginning of the End of the Game Console (As We Knew It)

My second blog post picked up by the Huffington Post. See it there…. Or here it is in full below…

Yesterday Sony Computer Entertainment, the division that runs PlayStation, announced that they are acquiring Gaikai , the game streaming company, for $380 million. Gaikai has created a platform that enables games to be run in the cloud and streamed to a consumer’s TV with no game console hardware required and no download or installation of the game application itself. The technology enables game players to get games without driving to a store, but more importantly it enable a wide range of new pricing and business models for both the game industry and consumers. For example, games can be experienced in a “try before you buy” model where gamers can play the game for say 10 minutes and then purchase if they like it. Or games can be packaged in subscription models in bundles or by the month. Or games can even be charged by the minute. There really is complete flexibility in how users could pay for and consume game play in this new delivery medium. Thus, assuming all other things equal (it does require a high bandwidth internet connection), making it a superior marketing and distribution platform relative to retail. Continue reading

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Advantage Now Goes to the “Designer” Entrepreneur

My first blog post picked up by the Huffington Post…. See it there…. Or here it is in full…

A significant shift is happening in the dynamic of both how most companies get started here in Silicon Valley and the dance between venture start-up investors and entrepreneurs.

In the traditional model, which less and less are holding on to, a start-up entrepreneur usually needed to have some credible business skills to get funded from a venture capitalist. I would get call after call from smart, creative, young and old, entrepreneurs that had a great idea for a product be it the web, mobile or what have you, and they would lament, “No VC will invest in me because they think I am just a product guy and I haven’t run a business, but my product idea is truly great… .” Not counting a rare exception, VCs were reticent to trust an investment of capital with someone who had never “run a business” and was just a “product designer.” And in all fairness this was quite reasonable because in the old model the first investment checks were bigger and thus the stakes much higher.

Two things changed, and it is interesting to think which one caused the other. First, or at least listed here first, is the trend of Angels, super Angels, and smaller first investments in start-ups (specifically software start-ups). In the old model, typically an investor would raise a series A investment of $3 million to $5 million (or more) and go and build a product and see if it gets traction. In the new model of smaller investments in software start-ups we typically now see a first investment of $300,000 to $800,000, a smaller team, and a much faster and cheaper time to market sprint. Continue reading

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