Dan Porter hired me at Virgin, and has been subletting me space in various OMGPOP offices since I founded Voxy in 2010. He is also on the advisory board of Voxy.Here’s what I learned while working alongside him.
1. Investing is personal; build incredible relationships with your VCs. Business is about people, and the people who extended OMGPOP a lifeline last year (when it seemed almost illogical) were betting on the team and a CEO who had built up trust.
2. Trust your gut when it comes to Cupcakes and Puppies. These were the central focus of some of OMGPOP’s previous games, and, while they were developed based on user feedback, they were also just intuitively lame. Cupcakes and Puppies were never going to become the cultural phenomenon of Draw Something.
3. React fast, and take control of the process. The ability to manage explosive growth so effectively is almost as rare a skill as making the game of a lifetime. From all-nighters by the dev team (huge props to CWH and Jason), to talks with Ghostface Killah, to rumours of a potential movie in the works, Dan rallied the team and executed flawlessly.
4. Metrics matter. While Dan knows numbers better than most, intuition is what drives him. But Draw Something was the first OMGPOP game to publicly display its analytics and usage data to the team throughout its meteoric rise. For a data junkie like me, who openly shares every number to my entire team, this is not a coincidence. Watching the Drawings per Download ratio creep from 10-12 one day and from 12-14 the next was early proof that this product had found a market, and that Draw Something was going to
5. Collaboration trumps competition in games. I’m not necessarily the authority on gaming here, and this point has been made many times before. But as Draw Something’s DAUs grow beyond 25 million, and as the game amazingly takes root in non-English speaking markets like China, it should be pointed out that people want to play with each other rather than against each other.
6. Let everyone around enjoy the success. Make big moments special for everyone. From free iPads for everyone on the team, to minimum bonuses for each employee and a total office re-design including new iMacs and acoustic guitars everywhere, everybody at OMGPOP was along for the ride. The celebration spread through every team member, from the interns on up.
7. Never, ever, ever give up. Watching Dan and OMGPOP’s incredible, “bottom of the 9th, two outs” Cinderella story has been the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in business. There were some dark days at OMGPOP over the last four years, and it was hard to watch my friend and mentor struggle. But even when board meetings got bleak, he never stopped believing in the team, in their collective knowledge and lessons learned, and in himself.