MySpace founder looks to social games

Chris DeWolfe, best known for his founding role in MySpace participated in an on-stage conversation with veteran journalist Dean Takahashi at Casual Connect in Seattle. Takahashi began by asking DeWolfe what got him interested in social games.

He describes the process of having a start-up, and then working for a giant corporation. "As some point, you're ready to start over and do your own thing." The first step was asking what was working on the internet: games were the clear answer.
That leads to the question of building a start-up, or buying an existing company. "We didn't want to buy any of the social game companies, because they'd been through several rounds of financing." And that made them over-valued. Instead, DeWolfe wanted someone established. "We became kind of a platform on top of a platform," he says in retrospect.

After talking to a 150 companies, DeWolfe found a company called MildJolt. They'd done a great job building the company, says DeWolfe, but we saw a lot of potential. He continues to say that today, MindJold would never buy a big development studio, but if there were an amazing analytics company or an amazing payment-system company, it would be a potential purchase.

"You're not going to buy Zynga, are you?" asks Takahashi. "No," replies DeWolfe, "They're in a totally different realm."

At the moment, most of MindJolt's games are running on MySpace. "Its tough to be reliant on one platform for all your revenues," warns DeWolfe. "They can make a change, and your traffic is off by 40%."

DeWolfe tells an anecdote about going to China three years ago, meeting with China's largest social network, and being told all about this game called Happy Farm. His reaction at the time was, "This is stupid, it'll never work in the US," and then along came FarmVille.

And while everyone wants in on the gold-rush today, DeWolfe sees a corporate feeding-frenzy as good for gamers in the end. "I think the more competition the better -- it makes the products better."

"I think all games should be on all platforms," he concludes.

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