Garrett Peek, a lead designer behind the hit mobile game Draw Something, has a new startup.
Draw Something was a viral success and it helped its parent company, OMGPOP, get acquired by Zynga for $US180 million. OMGPOP was a struggling company before the hit game launched with only 20 million users across its entire game portfolio. Draw Something quickly lapped that and amassed 30 million users in about one month.
Peek is bootstrapping a new startup called Sneeky in New York. Sneeky combines two of today’s hottest consumer trends, anonymity and photos.
It lets people share images with friends, but the friends don’t know who sent the photo, only that it was someone in their contact list.
We caught up with Peek about life after Zynga and what he’s working on now. Here’s our lightly-edited Q&A with Peek.
BUSINESS INSIDER: What hand did you have in Draw Something’s success?
GARRETT PEEK: We had a small team lead by Dan Porter for the original Draw Something. I was the only designer and created everything from the wireframes and full UI/UX to the art direction, animations, illustrations, app icons, and production assets. Basically everything you could see and touch.
It was a ton of work. We were all spread across at least three new IPs at the time too. I even created the launch site and all of Dan’s Draw Something presentations. But it was fun. I love problem solving and working on small teams. Everyone at OMGPOP was so sincere and talented. Which is why I’m excited about Sneeky. That same great energy and excitement is in what we’re working on now and we hope everyone has as much fun using it as we have had making it.
BI: When and why did you leave Zynga after the acquisition?
GP: After the acquisition I was excited to work with Zynga and came onboard to lead the design on some cool new experimental games. Unfortunately I was part of the mass layoffs that shuttered the NY office last year. I know how the industry works and am always positive about creating something new so I quickly picked myself up and kept going.
BI: What have you done since leaving Zynga?
GP: The tech community in NY is really inspirational and highly motivated. I’ve attended a lot of local tech events and have met with many companies and entrepreneurs. Chieh Huang, Boxed CEO, and the old AstroApe team host a great tech meet up here in NYC. During their event at the AOL offices Philip Golbraikh, Sneeky co-founder and biz lead, was introduced to David Alson, who eventually came onboard as our third co-founder and tech lead.
BI: What is Sneeky? Why did you decide to make yet another app that focuses on both anonymity and photo sharing? Those are two of the most saturated spaces in consumer tech right now.
GP: The new startup is called Sneeky. We started working on Sneeky before the space became really hot because we saw great potential in it. Specifically, Sneeky is an app that allows users to anonymously share photos directly with friends from their contact lists. It seems simple, but it’s incredibly powerful. Sharing anonymous photos directly with friends means the content is more personal. Instead of larger circles upon which content is disseminated, we’ve tightened and strengthened the connection between related tribes of friends.
The idea is that you feel a stronger connection with the people you are close to and it makes the content even more valuable. This also reduces the amount of inappropriate, abusive, and harmful behaviour. Actually, we have yet to see any content of that type. Ultimately, the worth of any app is in its ability to capture and engage its users in a meaningful way and there are few things more meaningful and engaging than the relationship between close friends.
BI: When did Sneeky launch? Who’s working on it with you?
GP: Sneeky launched last Thursday. My other co-founders are David Alson who’s our tech lead, and Philip Golbraikh who’s our business lead.
BI: How is Sneeky funded?
GP: Right now we are bootstrapped.
BI: How are you going to to get it to catch on? Are people already using it?
GP: It’s already starting to spread and we’re seeing great traction and even greater engagement, which is very promising. We’re attempting to fuel organic growth by reaching out to influencers who fit our target audience. We foresee a lot of use in environments where people come together at some point during the day, such as classrooms and offices. These environments are great for viral organic growth.
BI: What did you learn from Draw Something’s virality and exit that you’re using this time around?
GP: I’ve dedicated my life to creating things that people will love. Regardless of how the chips fall, I’ll always be here doing what I do best.
Here are some screengrabs that explain how Sneeky works: