Max Levchin Is Bored With Silicon Valley Startups


Slide founder Max Levchin — the guy who sold PayPal to eBay for $1.5 billion — stopped by SAI world headquarters the other day. We learned:

  • Slide’s already opened its New York office, staffed by an 8-person sales force. Max hasn’t seen it yet.
  • Max expects Slide to get even more into developing deeply branded channels within Slide’s FunSpace app like Katalyst, the project it just finished up with Ashton Kutcher and Cheetos. “Something you can’t get anywhere else,” he said.
  • Max is unimpressed with the level of innovation in Silicon Valley these days. Twitter and Facebook are great, but otherwise there are too many copy-cats constrained by Web 2.0 conventions: status updating, comments, friend lists, fans, gradient icons, and feeds.

In fact, Max told his three favourite startups aren’t based in Silicon Valley or even the US. They’re Japanese. They are:

  • Mobage-town. It’s a mobile social network owned by DeNA Global, Inc. 22-year-old bestselling novelist Yume-Hotaru uploaded his first novel to the service sentence-by-sentence.
  • Max described Ameba by CyberAgent as the “Blogger of Japan.”
  • Geisha Tokyo Entertainment makes something called Dennoh Figure ARis or Cyber Figure Alice. Max described it as an “augmented reality doll.” It’s a Web cam that’s built into a doll. You hook it to your computer and software adds animation to the video. Here’s a demo:

Photo: Robert Scoble