Dan Porter was the CEO of OMGPOP (the company that made Draw Something) when it sold to Zynga for nearly $US200 million in early 2012.
Last spring, he left Zynga and the New York City office full of former OMGPOP employees closed.
Now, Business Insider has learned he’s working on a mobile entertainment startup and he’s in talks to partner with star talent agent, Ari Emanuel.
The source we spoke with is “100% sure” of Porter’s entrepreneurial plans, although Porter declined to comment on the matter.
The source says no deal between Emanuel and Porter has been finalised, but Emanuel and other movie industry executives would be the likely founders of Porter’s project, not traditional venture capitalists. The startup is being held up, says the source, due to pending employment contracts that are expected to go through around September.
Porter and Emanuel apparently met at a party and the pair hit it off. The opportunity will allow Porter to “hobnob with A-listers and build stuff with a pretty able team,” says the source.
Porter has poached some of the youngest, most talented engineers from OMGPOP for his startup, including Ferose Babu and Will Chen.
Babu, Chen, and Emanuel have not responded to requests for comment.
The mobile entertainment company will run a lot like Betaworks, a company that creates other companies, says this person.
“People in the company will dream up and build prototypes of stuff, then they’ll launch it,” Business Insider was told. “The process will be to create something really fast, put it out there, and if it has any legs, the employees that were working on that particular product are going to spin it off into its own company.”
All of this ties into recent news about OMGPOP employees wanting to re-acquire their former domain, omgpop.com from Zynga. Omgpop.com generates roughly 2 million monthly uniques and could generate a few million dollars in advertising revenue if properly maintained. As the reports go, OMGPOP executives asked for it back and were willing to pay for it, but Zynga gave them the runaround.
While Porter hasn’t been named as one of the people who wanted to buy it back from Zynga, Business Insider has reviewed written online conversations where Porter seemed to be the brains behind the operation.
The source says Porter wanted to own the domain to send traffic to his new startup.
“Dan wanted to use the highly engaged audience of 2 million from OMGPOP to get the kids to download the new apps he’s creating to create an immediate feeling of a hit,” this person says.
Porter disputes the allegation.
“The goal was to keep it alive,” Porter says. “If we had gotten it back, it wouldn’t redirect to anyone’s new business. If Zynga called and said I could have it for free I’d say no. I’m not interested in running it.”
As for his next venture, Porter merely states:
“I’m excited about returning to my entrepreneurial roots and doing stuff in the future.”