Archive for the ‘business’ category

Is $7.5 the average cost of install from Facebook mobile app ads?

May 2, 2013

Quick back of the envelope math:

Facebook results Q3/2012 (before mobile app install ads launch)

Facebook results Q1/2013 (investor call highlights success of mobile app install ads = big growth & revenue driver)

Assuming other mobile ads grow at the same rate as the size of mobile audience: $150M * (751/604) = $186.5 million, or 50% of mobile ad revenue. Update: to be clear, this is an assumption. Non-install mobile ads could be growing a lot faster, say 30% faster than MAU, that is, grow a total 67% from Q3/2012 to Q1/2013 ($150M to $242M).

Keeping the original assumption mobile install ads grossed $187 million.

FB mobile ad CPI high end estimate = $187 million / 25 million installs = $7.5 / install

If we assume non-install ads grew 30% faster than mobile MAUs, then mobile install ads grossed $131 million.

FB mobile ad CPI low end estimate = $131 million / 25 million installs = $5.2 / install

To put this into perspective, mobile CPI from video ads (nearest in quality to FB ads) go for about $3 at volume.

Updated above: the key assumption here is the growth rate of the other mobile ads. It is possible that my estimate of 67% growth of non-install mobile ad revenue in 6 months is low, but that would mean that brand advertisers suddenly decided to really get on board with mobile ads. Facebook itself has really only been vocal about the how good results mobile app install ads are providing, which leads me to believe that the growth on non-install ads is not as strong as the takeup of install ads.

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World changing entrepreneurs & companies start small

September 13, 2011

(not really back to blogging, but had a spare moment and thought to blog after a long time).

I was reading up today how Dustin Moskovitz (Facebook co-founder, now Asana founder), Peter Thiel & Max Levchin of Paypal fame et al were lamenting at Techcrunch Disrupt how the startups in the valley don’t do enough to “change the world”. I found myself nodding as well as shaking my head.

Sure, we’ve got enough of people trying to solve photo sharing. Like films (Deep Impact, Armageddon) there seems to be trends that follow-on entrepreneurs pile on. Cloning and iteration do benefit the industry, but you also want folks to working on something new and innovative. Agreed with these gentlemen there.

At the same time it boggles my mind that these awesome entrepreneurs are pooh-poohing companies that start small. Facebook started out as a hot-or-not clone called Facemash. Mark Zuckerberg gave an interview in 2005 that there probably wouldn’t be much more to be done outside of college & university audiences. Peter & Max started Paypal with a relatively small concept of beaming money from a Palm Pilot to another.

I believe world changing companies and entrepreneurs start small by necessity. When you find traction, you scale both as the company and as the entrepreneur. Dustin, Peter and Max have scaled and so have their ambitions and their point of view. I’m sure they remember exactly where they come from and how they started small, but they see “wider” now. I don’t think they are dishing the best kind of advice though. Yes, you need a vision for a big company that at best times will change the world for better, but you absolutely need to start small. Unless you already co-founded Facebook, Paypal, Genentech, AdMob, Google, … and can afford to short circuit the process (of scaling yourself as an entrepreneur & resources for your company).

Start small. Scale when you can. Work towards a big vision.

On Friends, Family and Funding

February 2, 2011

It’s hard to believe it’s been only just over 9 months from the launch of Applifier on April 25th 2010. I haven’t blogged at all during that time as I simply haven’t had the time or energy for it.

Mark Suster recently wrote an excellent article on the rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship. I’ve been through that rollercoaster ride amped up with a few jet engines strapped to my back in those nine months. When we launched Applifier together with fellow social game publishers, I had no idea that the idea would grow to became a successful service reaching over tens of millions monthly active users. I was only trying to survive.

Everyplay (as our company was known then) was at the brink of death with a only a few months of cashflow left. Out of that desperation came the idea to try cross-promotion across small and medium sized publishers. It was the opportune time and we executed. But it would have not worked without the trust and support of our launch members. I’m incredibly thankful for their support, guidance and help.

Thank you Nabeel, Daniel, Raph, Jason, Keith, James, Stan, Moo, Luke, Rex, Magnus and Johan.

Applifier was founded to work for publishers. It is a privilege to work for so many great companies and see their games succeed.

Come mid-summer 2010 we were running on fumes. Money was nearly gone. Applifier was taking off like a rocket. Kamu Town, our game, languished. I had an obvious, but a very difficult decision to make. The vision I had crafted and promised to our team had not realized. We weren’t going to make it with games. The hardest day arrived when I had to face the facts, stop all game development and layoff good friends from the company. We ended up drinking and being merry the same night and parted ways with a ton of respect for everybody. I didn’t stop working for my former employees until I found them new employment at great companies like Rovio and Digital Chocolate. Personally one of the coolest things that Applifier has made possible is that I was able recruit back one of the guys I had had to lay off. Makes me smile.

Thank you Matti, Jussi and Pekka for believing in my vision and going the extra mile. It was a privilege to work on Kamu Town with you.

At the same time Applifier was growing explosively, but were a total nobody. An unknown, obscure Finnish startup trying to raise money in the Valley and not even knowing who to talk to. I had some ideas of investors I should try and reach, but I didn’t know them. Fortunately many great friends believed in us and put their reputation on the line to introduce us to the right people.

Thank you Paul, Wili, Jyri, Brett, Frank, Pekka, Josh, Taneli, Jukka.

Those warm intros opened the doors and our traction kept the doors open. We were up to around 30M MAU in reach in just a few months, but at the same also nearly out of cash. Applifier was delivering great results to its publishers, so our graphs continued to go up and to the right. If anything, that moves things forward in a funding round. It sounds cliché, but it is absolutely true.

The saying is that a Valley investor won’t invest into a company to whose office he can’t drive to. To my surprise I found that to be untrue. We pitched nearly 40 seed investors and only one outright turned us down because we aren’t a Delaware corporation. Everybody else was ok as long as the legal & tax impact of investing into Finland were known and the CEO would move over to the valley. (yes, that’s were I’m headed)

Traction was definitely the thing that helped investor to get over the “Where in the world is Finland?” issue. The cross-promo model worked and our publishers got great results from using Applifier. The technology worked extremely well too, but only because Matti and Jalmari, our technical co-founders, totally outdelivered re-writing Applifier’s systems several times over and working days and nights to keep up with the amazing load.

Thank you Matti and Jalmari. I couldn’t have found more competent and outstanding technical co-founders.

We were fortunate to meet several great investors, many of whom went out of their way to help us. The decision who to bring on board was not a trivial one. We were “getting married”, but unlike a marriage, there would be no option for a divorce. In the end our decision came down to choosing investors who were entrepreneurs themselves and whose own investors were entrepreneurs.

It’s great to have MHS CapitalPROfounders and Lifeline on board. These seed funds’ own investors are all successful entrepreneurs. It’s been an absolute privilege for me to talk with Ali Partovi (who backs MHS Capital), one of the founders of Link Exchange, who were the true pioneers of the cross-promotion model in the pre-Google days. So much in common with the businesses even if they are separated by over 15 years. Jyri, David and Lars are all successful entrepreneurs with huge domain expertise. Mark at MHS Capital, Sean & Rogan at PROfounders, Petteri, Timo, Jarkko and Ilkka at Lifeline all think and act like entrepreneurs.

Tekes, the Finnish funding agency for technology and innovation, has supported our R&D efforts since day 1. We are thrilled to join their Young Innovative Companies and show that fast growth, international startups can be created in Finland just as well as anywhere in the world.

Thank you Mark, Sean, Rogan, Jyri, David, Lars and Pauli for backing our vision.

While I was galloping around the world and obsessing over Applifier’s offering, the one person that kept things going at Applifier HQ and provided a steady hand to everything was Pekka, our fourth co-founder. Pekka and I go ways back as we’ve together run ASSEMBLY the largest Finnish computer festival since early 1990s.

Thank you Pekka, for being a friend and a co-founder for close to 20 years now.

During the fall of 2010 we’ve built up our team and have had incredible success in recruiting awesome folks whose work is now starting show through our feature launches like retargeting, our new network for web games and several cool things that will launch in the near future.

Thank you Teemu, AT, Antti, Garo, Pekka, Tuomas, Mika, Eemu, Juho and Reina.

This rollercoaster ride has been a thrill, but combining it with a family of two young kids makes for a busier life than I could have ever imagined. The understanding, support and love my wife Eija has given me over these months is beyond words. That she would resign her own job and relocate to a foreign country that she has never been to is simply amazing and humbling to me.

Thank you Eija for your love and support.

I’m privileged to be on this journey and work with so many talented people, work for awesome publishers and have the advice and support of people I respect.

Applifier is the creation of everybody involved. Thank you.

Why we didn’t apply to Seedcamp or running a startup in your 30s

September 10, 2009

Seedcamp is an amazing program for European startups. The best and brightest of European startups compete for a spot in the Seedcamp week in London. The week is stock full of amazing workshops, tutorials, hands-on training and perhaps most importantly world class networking with European and US serial entrepreneurs, investors and deal makers. If you are chosen as a winner the Seedcamp organizers (The Accelerator Group) will invest €50 000 at a quite rational valuation.

Sounds perfect for any startup. So why didn’t Everyplay apply to Seedcamp? Double why as I even participated as a mentor in the Seedcamp Helsingborg event?

The truth is yes, I really wanted to apply because I love the concept, but it is was made impossible by the “extended Seedcamp concept“. The main use for that invested €50 000 is to bring the core members of the startup team to London for three months to take the company further. By applying to Seedcamp you agree to this.

Let’s just stop there for a moment. This works perfectly for 20-somethings that don’t have obligations to anybody but themselves and who can just pack a suitcase and go. It also requires that your core team is quite small, so that you can get your whole core team over to London.

The concept fails when you or any core member of your team is married, has kids or in general has a life outside of the company. It also fails if you can’t bring all core team members over to London as otherwise you are totally impairing your company’s progress at a very sensitive stage by splitting the team into two (one part staying at home base and another part in London).

Everyplay’s core team has several people who are over 30 year old, are married and have kids. Packing up our lives and moving to London for three months isn’t an option, so we had to pass on Seedcamp. To be fair, this is not dig on Seedcamp. They are just doing the same as Y Combinator is doing in the States.

However, it is interesting to think about this selection criteria in the light of research results reported by TechCrunch that the average founder of a high-growth company launched his venture at age 40. I believe Seedcamp is limiting itself unnecessarily with this “move to London for three months” requirement.

(CC) by tibchris on Flickr

(CC) by tibchris on Flickr

Seedcamp aside, the bigger question is how can one succeed as an entrepreneur in a high tech startup and have a family life. Steve Blank recently posted about how he and his wife managed to stick together and raise their kids while going thru a couple startups. My own experiences and arrangements are very much like his.

The reality is that it feels like running two startups in parallel. It is physically, mentally and emotionally taxing, but also immensely rewarding. At the risk of sounding corny, seeing things thru a child’s eyes is eye opening. Being a parent is a monumental, continous learning experience. It does sound just like running startup =) and I actually do think that having an entrepreneurial mindset really helps in parenting.

I like to compare running a startup to having kids as both bring with them higher emotional highs and lower lows at a lot faster pace than before. With that in mind, it is easy to justify Seedcamp’s and Y Combinator’s selection criteria  – less hassle, just focus on the startup. But with age comes victories, mistakes, experience, and possibly even expertise and insight. To quote a recent post on Both Sides of the Table, one of my favourite VC blogs:

Good judgment comes from experience,

but experience comes from bad judgment

The finalists for this year’s Seedcamp were announced today. Congratulations and best of luck to everyone!

I wish I could have been there too.

Why HeyZap Coins and Mochi Coins fall short

July 21, 2009

Recently both HeyZap and Mochi Media launched virtual goods platforms for Flash games. In short they allow players to purchase game items with hard currency. Want to kill zombies more effectively? Buy this $0,05/600 Mochi coins double-barrel shotgun! With virtual goods being the “new advertising” as far as internet business models go, why does this effort fall short? Jussi, we thought you loved virtual goods!

Oh yes, I still love virtual goods. There is nothing wrong with the basic premise of the service offered by HeyZap and Mochi Media, but plenty of issues with trying to monetize primarily single player Flash game experiences. It’s the classic “If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is there to see it, does it really fall” problem. I can buy a better shotgun, but without other players, my friends and my rivals , what is the point? Why would I bling out my virtual house if my friend’s can visit? Is there anybody to listen when I boast about my exploits? Is there anybody to best? Anybody to share this experience with?

Due to the nature of the games they serve HeyZap and Mochi Media are currently limited to effectively selling you “cheat codes“. It’s a hollow experience without the social context offered by persistent multiplayer games (e.g. MMOs or social games), and I don’t expect this to save Flash games developers. In HeyZap’s and Mochi Media’s shoes I’d be investing heavily into providing the tools to let Flash developers create these persistent multiplayer experiences (Nonoba is doing it). However, as a Flash developer I wouldn’t wait – I’d jump ship to social games this instant (massive & free distribution, social context, paying customers = the win).

Further reading

Mentoring at Mini-Seedcamp at Helsingborg on 5th of May

April 21, 2009

seedcamp

Seedcamp is a catalyst for European startups. The main event is a week long bootcamp for handful of pre-qualified European startups in London. Fellow Finnish start-up Scred was selected to participate last fall. I chatted with Kristoffer from Scred after the event and he was very impressed about the learnings they were able to take away from the event.

So I was definitely excited when I got invited to act as a mentor at one of the Mini-Seedcamps being held across Europe. Karri and the crew at the ever-so-fantastic Arctic Startup blog recommended me to the Swedish organizers of the Helsingborg event held on 5th of May and I jumped at the chance to participate.

The Mini-Seedcamp mentors are VCs and serial entrepreneurs including Daniel Blomquist from Creandum, Hjalmar Winbladh from Rebtel and Thomas Weilby Knudsen from Northcap Partners.  And yours truly. It’s an interesting situation to be a mentor when we are down in the trenches at Everyplay (with nothing public to show yet). I can’t offer recent “here’s how I’ve succeeded” type of lessons. Instead I can offer “here ‘s what I think works” and “this is how we are doing it”. There are definitely war stories and lessons learned in how Everyplay got off the ground, the 17+ years spent as entrepreneur in running ASSEMBLY (6000+ participants every year, over 200 person volunteer workforce) and the parallels between pitching video games to game publishers and pitching startups to VCs.

I expect to learn at least as much from being a mentor as the startups can learn from the successes and follies I’ve encountered on my road to Mini-Seedcamp at Helsingborg.

Twitter for the geographically-challenged outsiders

March 18, 2009

twitter_logo

To continue on my previous post on how to survive 8727km from the Silicon Valley, here are a couple of practical tips on how to get the most out of Twitter.

Search for relevant keywords

Twitter’s Advanced Search is great tool for finding interesting people and topics serendipitously. Define the keywords you are interested in, run the search  and subscribe to the RSS feed. My search terms are “Jussi Laakkonen”, “social games”, “casual games”, “funware” and “virtual goods”. See who tweet about the topics you are interested in and what the discussion is.

Trawl thru the following lists

This tip comes from @mitch_olson of Small Worlds, who trawled thru my following list to find new people to follow. If you find an interesting person to follow, check out who they follow to find more interesting folks.

Add yourself to WeFollow

Simply tweet “@wefollow #yourtag #yourtag #yourtag” to classify yourself to make yourself more foundable. First, checkout the most popular tags on WeFollow. To find more interesting people to follow check the WeFollow lists on the tags you classify yourself with.

Re-tweet and see who re-tweet you

Re-tweeting is about sharing something valuable. You are doing a service to the person who you are retweeting as well as to the people who follow you. See who re-tweet you for more interesting people.

See who they are conversing with

Often you follow a particular person, and they are chatting away with @ replies with  somebody you are not yet following . See who that other is, perhaps she will be worth a follow.

Establish a tweeting style & reinforce it at your profile

I personally use Twitter for business and tend not to share personal stuff or tweet funny jokes. Your followers will expect consistentency, so when they check your profile, they’ll decide at an instant if they want to follow you or not.  Your latest ten tweets and secondarily your 160 char description play a huge role on who follow you.

Check before you follow

The corollary to the above is to check the profile before you follow someone. I’m picky about who I follow people to avoid cluttering my stream (if only Tweetdeck had a longer backlog of tweets ;-)).

Hashtags

Hashtags make some sense out of Twitter, especially during conferences like SXSW. Tweetdeck nicely supports hashtags by integrating to the Twitter Search. It’s a godsend for tracking topics especially when I’m 7-10 timezones away and top discussions take place in the middle of the night (for me).

Tweetdeck

Some prefer Thwirl, but Tweetdeck is the way to go ;-)

Read Guy’s advice

Guy Kawasaki has further advice on How to use twitter as twool.

If you have more advice for geographically-challenged Twitter users, please share it in the comments!