Charles Forman, the founder of gaming company OMGPOP, wanted to be like Bebo founder Michael Birch.
He was part of a team of former OMGPOP employees who wanted to buy their initial site, OMGPOP.com, back from its acquirer, Zynga. Birch was successful in his mission to buy back Bebo for significantly less than he sold it for ($US1 million and $US850 million respectively). Forman and his team were not.
According to sources familiar with the discussions, Forman and a group of OMGPOP’s former executives including its CTOs Jason Pearlman and EJ Mablekos, were hoping Zynga might give back the domain rather than shut it down altogether. The attempted buyback was first reported by TechCrunch.
If Zynga wasn’t willing to give it back for free, they were also willing to raise money — roughly $US500,000 — to pay for it. With OMGPOP.com back in their control, they’d have rebranded to avoid confusion with Zynga and volunteered to maintain it. The site is pulling in nearly 2 million monthly uniques and thus, could be turned into a few million in annual revenue, which is enough to sustain the community with minimal work. With that kind of traffic, gameplays per month are likely in the tens of millions. There are about 20 games running on OMGPOP.com.
Despite multiple attempts to discuss a buyback with Zynga, the team’s requests were “ignored.” Essentially, they were given the run-around. Then news broke that the domain would be shut down at the end of September. Zynga had made its decision.
“The hope was that it’d be a gesture of good faith that Zynga would sell or give it back,” says a source. “It kind of runs itself and the kids are passionate about it. The team was disappointed.”
Zynga did not respond to a request for comment.