Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tenuki: Changing Direction

For all of you tracking the progress of Tenuki, you'll notice that I've been mute on the subject. I've always been cagey about what exactly we're doing, mainly out of typical startup paranoia.

Well, I hate doing things out of fear. I think it's stupid and short-sighted, and results in bad decisions. So I'm vowing to be more forthright about what we're doing.

What We Were Doing

First of all, we abandoned our original plan to build a MMO centered around casual gaming. We still think it's a great opportunity, and we wish the other companies in the space all the best, especially Three Rings who we like and respect immensely.

Why? We couldn't do it without raising lots of money. We were looking at eight million dollars in funding before we saw the first dollar of revenue. In the current funding environment, that's a ridiculous sum. Everybody else is out raising $250,000 to $500,00 in their first round. We were shooting for 1 million-1.5 million to get to private beta. And since neither John nor I ever was a Senior VP at an online games company, it was going to be a long, hard road to raise that money.

So instead of playing salmon and fighting upstream, we took the advice of the many others who've been down this road before and we scaled back our ambitions. And as a result, we've unearthed many other tasty opportunities. Our current focus is the first of those opportunities, one we know we can launch for zero dollars and within a month or so. Fortunately, much of the technology we had been building was already suited to this purpose.

What We Are Doing

We're building a cross-site multi-player flash game platform. We're enabling players on any gaming site to play against players on any other gaming site. Why? Because it's annoying to find a multi-player game on some site that only has three active players. It's why I stopped playing multi-player flash games on miniclip. You could never find anyone with whom to play.

We're solving that problem. And we'll see where that goes.

One thing I've learned about startups is that the only thing you get from making plans is plans. Make the product, then figure it out. If that one doesn't work, build another one. Repeat as necessary. If that sounds like good advice, I'm sure I stole it from Paul Graham or Marc Andreessen.

The philosophy behind Tenuki has always been make it easy for people to play games together online. It's the reason John and I started down the startup path, and we're elated to still be on it. It's a great path to be on, and if you haven't got on it yet, you should. You won't regret it.