OMGPOP founder Charles Forman has raised some money for his new venture Picturelife. The startup, which is focused on backing up, storing, and providing access to all of your photos in the cloud, closed $4 million in new funding.
Picturelife has built apps for the Mac, as well as mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad, which provides a way to backup and store all your digital photos in one place. (There’s also a Windows client coming soon.) The app works by syncing photos from multiple devices and giving users the ability to access them from anywhere. Users can also import and sync photos from a number of other social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and others.
The app automatically organizes photos, while getting rid of duplicates. And of course, there’s a way to share your photo stream with friends and family. It operates on a freemium model, with the first 5 GB of storage free. Users who want to use more than that have the option of upgrading to a Premium plan, which provides 100 GB of storage for $7 a month or $70 a year, or its Premium Plus plan, which provides 300 GB of storage for $15 a month or $150 a year.
Forman, of course, is best known for founding New York City-based social gaming startup OMGPOP, and for generally being a badass on the NY startup scene. OMGPOP famously sold to Zynga for $180 million after the success of its mobile app Draw Something earlier this year. Forman was not part of the management team at the time of the sale, but he still retained a stake in the company.
Much of the investment comes from previous OMGPOP investors. Spark Capital led the round, and other investors include Crunchfund, Founder Collective, Lerer Ventures, Highline Venture Partners, Betaworks, David Karp, SV Angel, and Chris Dixon, with Forman putting in some of his own money as well. Along with the funding, Spark Venture Partner Nabeel Hyatt, former CEO of Conduit Labs and GM at Zynga, has also joined the company’s board of directors.
In addition to Forman, the founding team is made up of former AnyClip EVP and NY Tech Meetup Executive Director Nate Westheimer, as well as Threadless co-founder Jacob DeHart. The company is based in Chicago, with eight full-time employees.
Zynga founder and CEO Mark Pincus spoke at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference this morning, where he addressed some of the negative talk about the social gaming giant.
First of all, Pincus said he didn’t regret the timing of Zynga’s IPO, even though the company’s stock is now trading at well below its IPO price. However, Pincus said it’s hard to think of a big consumer brand that was able to stay private, so he knew he’d have to go public at some point. In fact, he said that with so many employees and stakeholders, Zynga started trying to act like a public company well before the actual IPO.
“We didn’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out the timing,” Pincus said — instead, the timing was decided by when it could “organically” fit in with the company’s other plans, while also meeting the deadline imposed by by SEC disclosure rules. “I don’t think about regret for things that were always on my path and not really in my control.”
Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky, who was interviewing Pincus, asked if morale was suffering because employee stock options are currently underwater. Pincus first countered by saying that since Zynga uses restricted stock options, they’re not technically underwater. More generally, he said that what keeps people at a company should be an attraction to the mission, so if there are employees who are unhappy because they’re not getting a quick financial return, “You hope they find another opportunity.” That doesn’t mean Pincus doesn’t care about morale, but he said raising morale is more about connecting that larger mission with “what you’re doing next week.”
The company’s dependence on Facebook is widely seen as one of the big reasons for investor antipathy, so Pincus talked about broadening to other platforms and also widening its revenue streams. He said Zynga has been willing to build games for “anywhere that social gaming could exist” — it just happens that Facebook is where that kind of gaming has taken off to to stratospheric heights. The next big boost will come from mobile, Pincus said — and with 22 million daily active users, the company is the largest mobile gaming network today.
He added that mobile, advertising, and real-money gaming (i.e., legalized gambling) are all areas where he expects to see revenue growth. On the last point, Pincus said there’s “a good chance” that online gambling will be legalized in some form, but he warned, “I am not a good predictor of politics.”
There has also been criticism of Zynga’s acquisition of OMGPOP, maker of the popular Draw Something app. Usage of Draw Something has been dropping — does that mean Zynga overpaid? Pincus said “it’s too early to call it after one quarter.” Similar its acquisition of Words With Friends, Zynga bought OMGPOP in the hope of investing in it over the next five years.
“We thought that these could be mass consumer brands and core experiences that we could build off of for the next decade,” Pincus said. “We didn’t in either case buy them for what we thought they’d do in the next two quarters afterwards.”
Stepping back from remarks a few weeks ago that suggested that Zynga was about to go on a shopping spree, Zynga chief executive Mark Pincus said the $180 million acquisition of Draw Something-maker OMGPOP was a “rare instance.”
Although OMGPOP was certainly a step up from anything Zynga has ever done before, Pincus said it didn’t represent a change in strategy from last year. He said Zynga will continue to be “prudent and bottom line-oriented” in its decisions today during the first-quarter earnings call. That’s a change in tone from an interview with Bloomberg a few weeks ago when he said that he expected to do “a few” OMGPOP-sized deals in the next three to five years. His remarks helped send shares tumbling 13.9 percent from the day the story appeared.
Mostly because of the OMGPOP deal, Zynga raised its annual guidance to $1.425 billion to $1.5 billion in bookings, up from $1.35 to $1.45 billion before. The company didn’t comment on how much OMGPOP will exactly contribute to Zynga’s bottom-line, but one might be able to infer from the guidance change that it’s anywhere from $50 to 75 million in bookings. Keep in mind though that this increase might include revenue not only from “Draw Something,” but other titles Zynga might be able to launch and cross-promote through the game.
Before OMGPOP, Zynga had mostly bought small teams in the $5 to 20 million range. In late 2010, however, Zynga bought a company called Newtoy, that was behind the hit game “Words With Friends” for $53.3 million in cash and stock. They were able to in turn increase their mobile users tenfold through the deal by the time they filed for an initial public offering. The OMGPOP deal helped Zynga raises its daily active users on mobile to 21 million in the first quarter, up from 12 million in the fourth.
Zynga has about $1.5 billion in cash and securities that it could use to buy companies, down from $1.9 billion at the end of last year because of the OMGPOP deal plus the $228 million it spent to buy its headquarters in San Francisco.
Here are Pincus’ full comments from the earnings call:
“We are happy to provide accurate expectations about our M&A strategy. The strategy hasn’t changed since the roadshow and as we’ve spoken to all of you – our primary focus — and the way we’ve built this business has been about organic development and growth of games that have led to a network that we have further leveraged to bring more successful games to market. That’s what you should expect to continue to drive growth.
Draw Something was the second major product line that we went out and acquired. It was a rare instance for us. We believed it was not just accretive financially, but we were excited about its growth and what this game meant for mobile-social gaming. It was a new experience that had a level of sharing that’s never seen before in gaming. It was setting new boundaries in social media and viral growth that hadn’t been seen before.
We saw a whole new phenomenon that is not only more exciting for mobile-social gaming, but we saw a property that very quickly becoming mainstream. We thought it would be synergistic to our network and infrastructure. We thought it would be more valuable to Zynga and that we could organically build from it.
It does not represent a change in our strategy or our approach to large investments in our data, analytics and hosting infrastructure.
At every point, we’ve been very careful, prudent and bottom-line oriented to make investments where we could connect the dots to an accretive return.”
OMGPOP’s Draw Something drawing game just surpassed 50 million downloads. It has been downloaded around a million times a day since launch. The paid version is currently number one in the App Store.
The company also noted that over 6 billion drawings have been passed between friends. According to the PR, the least popular word to draw is “latrine,” which is understandable.
Zygna recently bought OMGPOP for a cool $210 million and most of the team – except for one employee who was unceremoniously insulted by the CEO on Twitter – are now working in the bowels of Farmville-land.
As a point of comparison, Angry Birds Space was downloaded 10 million times in three days, a strong showing for another popular casual game.
Read more here: OMGPOP’s Draw Something Surpasses 50 Million Downloads