E064: with Susan Choe



about this episode

Jason Calacanis hosts This Week in Startups with guest Susan Choe, CEO and Founder of Outspark

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00:02:00 This Week In Startups Global Meetup, Tuesday July 20th at 11am PST

00:05:00 We have a tough time finding women CEOs that are Founders of very successful technology companies and and we are please to have Susan Choe of Outspark joining us

00:06:30 Outspark has been operation for 3.5 years and publishes free MMOs to play and people pay for elements and features, the concept has been widely used in Asia and they bring many games from that region.

00:09:30 The idea to actually start her own business came from her time at Yahoo trying to achieve the same thing but decided to go out on her own

00:11:30 How many employees and players do you have? 50 employees in San Francisco, 10 in Asia and have 6.5 million registered users

00:12:15 Are the games appealing to Americans? Outspark focuses on US, Canada, UK and Germany and appeal to everyone, revenue is in the double digit millions

00:13:45 What are the revenue expectations when you launch a new game? 10-15% pay $45-50 a month for 4 – 8 months and media companies are starting to approach them for virtual goods

00:15:30 Who is spending money on these games? Everyone, society is looking for something more interesting than movies

00:17:45 What is the record spending for one person? We have had one family spend $120,000

00:18:30 What is it like being a female CEO? Female CEOs should be judged the same as male CEOs it’s all about performance and execution, once guys get over it we all have fun achieving the same results, gender shouldn’t matter

00:20:00 Do you think less women want to be CEOs? Traditionally men do it but Susan finds it fun, people need to give women a chance

00:23:30 VC’s do profile and usually go on trends

00:24:00 What is the most important thing for social media games to focus on? Observation, they need to focus on what the players are doing what trends are occurring in game, you ust look at creative ways to engage and solve problems

00:27:00 Why are these games addictive? Online games allow you to live a life that maybe more fuller than your own. Player archetypes form in game and are necessary (alpha player, socialite, collector and observer) to create a community.

00:30:00 Will we see these on the iPad? The business is downloadable if the hardware meets the minimum spec people will be able to use it

00:31:15 Will HTML5 be robust enough as a gaming platform? Success isn’t about the format it’s about game design and keeping people engaged (look are some of the successful games graphically they aren’t appealing it’s about game play)

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00:33:45 ASK JASON – Adam Bunnell – Built a plan to incorporate videos and college recruitment with more detailed information than currently given. When a project gets out of control, what is the best way to proceed?

Answer – this happens to Jason at times, you feel like you are drowning in opportunity, knowing where you are in your career and what skills you posses will help an eliminate certain avenues and start off with the road of least resistance. How do you plan to monetize? Charge the students a subscription fee, colleges and student credit card companies are an opportunity. Buy some flip cams and start off with a YouTube channel and be the unauthorized real world version for 5 – 10 schools in your area, this will show a body of work when you seek funding. Give people the sense that you are showing people something the school doesn’t want you to see. Jason likes to use OneLook (as a reverse dictionary for naming) and just because someone else is in the space isn’t a reason not to go for it.

Soon  launching WebSpy Soho – Easily monitor Home & Small Network bandwidth usage, Internet  connection speed and much more – Test Alpha version

THE NEWS with Lon Harris

00:51:45 Apple Announcement – Steve Jobs this morning offered something of an apology to Apple fans about the iPhone 4’s now-infamous reception and antenna problems, which he called “Antennagate.” He said “We’re not perfect, phones aren’t perfect. But we want to make all our users happy” during this morning’s press briefing. Though he said that he thinks the issues have been blown out of proportion, and that only half of 1% of iPhone 4 users had actually complained (which is, when you think about it, a pretty high number), he also noted that he takes criticism of Apple personally and takes pains to communicate directly with users rather than farm out these kinds of issues to PR people. His proposed solution? iPhone users who have reception troubles will get free protective bumpers for their units.

The New York Times reported last night that Apple would not announce a recall this morning despite rumors all week to the contrary.

According to a report in Bloomberg, Ruben Caballero, a senior engineer at Apple and an antenna expert, informed senior management that the iPhone 4 design was flawed and could potentially hurt phone reception, though the source of this information was not revealed. Allegedly, a carrier partner also raised a red flag about the issue prior to the release.

Despite the issues, Apple broke sales records with iPhone 4, selling 1.7 devices in the first three days of its release.

Will this have any long term effects? Steve Jobs is the best CEO ever, he’s gangsta, the illness may have given him a new look and he just takes care of business. The battery of the iPhone 4 is 3 times better, camera is amazing, processor is snappier, great screen, however, no one app makes it better they just inproved on the base product

00:59:15 New MySpace Profile and Threadbox Acquisition – A big week for MySpace. First, the company announced that it was acquiring the team and assets of social messaging service ThreadBox, a Palo Alto-based firm that focused on melding e-mail and instant messaging into a collaboration tool. It’s expected that MySpace will use the acquisition to improve its own internal user communications system. No word on how much MySpace is paying for Threadbox’s team and assets, but the company had raised $2 million from angel investors after launching at the DEMO conference in 2009.

Then on Thursday night, ThisWeekIn host and MySpace VP Sean Percival tweeted out a new MySpace page, debuting what he called a “clean new profile.” The new profiles aren’t rolled out site-wide yet, and MySpace has confirmed that they are just meant as a test, and designed to encourage feedback from the community…

According to TheNextWeb, the Twitter response has been mixed, and it’s still unclear what exactly has changed and what hasn’t about features and options as of yet.

It’s certainly a lot easier on the eyes, and more organized, than the previous incarnation of MySpace, and it’s notable how much emphasis has been placed on integrating “Videos by Sean Percival” into the overall layout.

What do you think of the new MySpace profile? Will the public’s concern over Facebook privacy issues coupled with a slick new design be enough to put them back on top, or start earning MySpace some attention once more?

Yes, they have a chance at re-engaging people and bringing them back, people need to know they can trust the new management team to itterate when necessary. It’s the first thing that has been executed well with the new management team.

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01:06:00 FrontierVille Hits 20 Million Monthly Users – Social gaming champions Zynga have another massive hit on their hands, it seems. After about 5 weeks, their newest game, Frontier Ville, has hit 20 million monthly users, with around 6 million Daily Active users. Some other quick states:

6.3 million people have built a cabin
2.3 million people are married in the game
252 million snakes have been clobbered
128 million bears have been scared away

FrontierVille is currently the company’s third most popular game of all time, behind FarmVille and Poker.

Is this an indication that Zynga has real staying power, or are these users just jumping ship from FarmVille to FrontierVille. In other words, can Zynga continue to grow its audience by releasing new games? How significant is this milestone?

Probably a lot of crossover players, Has Zynga hit critical mass? No they have more platforms available like the iPad

01:09:30 Ze Frank Games – Video blogger and “performance artist” Ze Frank has received $500,000 from a group of VC’s and angel investors to start a stealth project known as “Ze Frank Games,” though the specific nature of the project remains shrouded in secrecy. Investors include Andressen Horowitz, Founder Collective, Ron Conway’s SV Angel, betaworks, Gary Vaynerchuk and more.

Frank has remained exceptionally vague about his plans, but told TechCrunch “the company is still in stealth mode, but it will involve social gaming and will be influenced heavily by what I’ve learned about play and participation over the last ten years with projects like The Show and Color Wars.” He’s also been hiring a front-end developer and a graphic designer.

Color Wars, you’ll recall, was a project Ze Frank took up on Twitter to organize people into groups and give them “challenges.” Gary V said he invested not so much because of the project but because he wanted to be involved with Ze himself. Chris Dixon of the Founder Collective said “Ze is a genius and he’s going to do amazing stuff.”

Would you give Ze Frank money on the basis of his reputation alone, without knowing exactly what he’s up to? What do you think Ze Frank Games will be?

No Jason would not invest without knowing the plan, he believes something has to be outlined it is big news that a video blogger is able to get a big investment however social gaming feels overdone

01:14:20 Metaweb Acquired by Google – Google announced on its official blog this morning that it has acquired semantic search startup Metaweb, though the terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Metaweb maintains Freebase, an “open shared database of the world’s knowledge,” which is sort of like the Wikipedia of data, and also develops semantic data storage. Obviously, on one level, owning Freebase will make Google’s search more intelligent, as it now has a massive almanac of data that’s readable by its software. Metaweb says it will continue to support existing partners, but won’t take on any new partners. The company had raised close to $60 million from investors including Benchmark Capital and Goldman Sachs.

How is owning Metaweb going to help Google, and how significant of a boost will it be? Isn’t this basically paying for what they already tried to accomplish with Google Base?

If it comes out that it was bought for less than $180 million this was a talent buy because Google should be able to do the same thing, the price will be the tell

01:22:30 END

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