While the giants of social networking battle for the attention of Internet users, the guys behind RockYou are happy to sit in the middle. They make their money shipping the tiny apps known as widgets that add value to the Web sites–and generate ad revenue for RockYou. “MySpace and Facebook are like my two divorced parents,” says Shen, who launched the company with Tokuda in 2005. “And I am their child whose love they are trying to buy.”
No wonder. RockYou today is the hottest widget factory on the Web. More than 35 million people in 200 countries have used its little programs, which rack up 180 million page views per day. What do RockYou’s widgets do? The things people who populate MySpace and Facebook love to do, like post silly notes and videos on RockYou’s Super-Wall, quiz each other with RockYou’s Likeness’s trivia questions, or test their astrological waters via RockYou’s Horoscope. Look for the company’s widgets to start showing up in your e-mail, your instant messages, and, perhaps by 2009, your cellphone.
Interesting fact is that RockYou seems to be heavily relying on organic traffic despite its popularity. On its home page it is clearly visible a text link “Create SlideShow” which points to: http://www.rockyou.com/slideshow-create.php. When searched on Google that page appears #3 out of millions results returned. http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&q=Create+SlideShow.
Indeed the company looks very healthy to us. Quantcast reports for almost 7M global unique visitors while the Americans alone are slightly over 2M/mo. Compete is showing pretty much the same number of visitors – almost 6M per month, only American traffic.
The company founders are Lance Tokuda and Jia Shen and RockYou is based in San Mateo, Calif. Co-Founders Lance Tokuda and Jia Shen were sued by their former employer Iconix in 2006. Iconix claimed Tokuda and Shen were working on a slideshow application for them at the same time the pair created RockYou. A preliminary injunction favored Iconix before the intellectual property theft case was settled out of court.
The company is partnering with some of today’s webs top sites like Bebo, Friendster, Flixter, WordPress and Hi5, among others.
Slide.com is the RockYou’s main competitor. However now RockYou!’s Super Wall app has overtaken Slide’s similar FunWall app for the #1 spot, with 3.1 million daily active users. RockYou! has recently put up a press release claiming there are more popular than Slide, with CEO Lance Tokuda calling it “a significant milestone for RockYou.”
RockYou has recently signed a deal with PlayFirst, who just got $16.5M in series C round of funding led by DCM that included original investors Mayfield Fund, Trinity Ventures and Rustic Canyon Partners. The new round brings total funding for PlayFirst to $26.5 million. Under the deal RockYou will distribute PlayFirst games through its widget and social networking service, with Wedding Dash the first title to be made available to Facebook users. PlayFirst sees the deal a way of tapping into the growing popularity of social networking sites as a gaming platform.
Most recently, the company has also launched its own Facebook-specific ad network.
More about RockYou
RockYou is a leading provider of applications and widgets on the web. RockYou widgets include photo slideshows, glitter text, customized Facebook applications and voicemail accessories that are simple to use and enable people to frequently refresh their online style. Founded in 2006, RockYou has over 35 million users, serving over 180 million widget views per day in more than 200 countries. RockYou applications are customized for easy integration across all social networks including Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, Tagged and hi5. RockYou’s cost-effective, results-focused advertising platform is the largest Ad Network on Facebook and the most dynamic method for rapidly acquiring Facebook application users. New applications can reach over 100k users in 24 hours, spanning a suite of applications across multiple publishing partners.
Widgets offered are as followed:
- Slideshows (your photos with music, captions and a theme)
- PhotoFX (stylize your photos)
- Glitter FXtext (add glitter and more to your text)
- FunNotes (choose a theme, caption and effects for your note)
- Countdown Timer (countdown to important events)
- Group Corkboard (you and your friends can add pictures, text and more to the corkboard)
- MySpace Layouts (make your myspace page aesthetically pleasing)
- ShoutOuts (record your voice and send it to a friend)
- Scratcher (scratch your picture like a lottery ticket and see what’s hidden behind)
- VoiceMail (allows your friends to leave voice comments on your page)
- Games (make your profile or blog more fun by adding games to it)
- Horoscope (get daily horoscopes and find out your compatibility with friends)
- Movies (let your friends know what your favorite movies are)
- Avatars (create an animated version of yourself to put on your profile)
RockYou was originally named RockMySpace. RockYou is funded by Sequoia Capital, Partech International and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The company took funding in two rounds where Series A was $1.50M and the VCs participating were First Round Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital and the Series B round of funing was for $15.00M and participants were the same VCs plus Partech International. The total funding is $16.5M to date.
More about the Investors
Sequoia Capital provides startup venture capital for very smart people who want to turn ideas into companies. As the “Entrepreneurs Behind the Entrepreneurs”, Sequoia Capital’s Partners have worked with innovators such as Steve Jobs of Apple Computer, Larry Ellison of Oracle, Bob Swanson of Linear Technology, Sandy Lerner and Len Bozack of Cisco Systems, Dan Warmenhoven of Network Appliance, Jerry Yang and David Filo of Yahoo!, Jen-Hsun Huang of nVIDIA, Michael Marks of Flextronics, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen of YouTube, Steve Goldman and Sujal Patel of Isilon Systems and Dominic Orr and Keerti Melkote of Aruba Wireless Networks. To learn more about Sequoia Capital visit www.sequoiacap.com.
Lightspeed Venture Partners
Lightspeed Venture Partners combines extensive venture capital and operating experience to assist entrepreneurs in creating industry-leading technology companies. Lightspeed manages $1.3 billion of committed capital and focuses on seed and early-stage information technology investments in the U.S., Israel and Asia. The firm’s partners have invested in more than 100 technology companies over the past two decades and have contributed to the success of market leaders including Blue Nile, Brocade, Ciena, Galileo Technology, Informatica, Kiva Software, Metasolv, Phone.com, Quantum Effect Devices, Sirocco and Waveset. For more information, please visit our Website at www.lightspeedvp.com.
Founded in 1982, Partech International is a leading global venture capital firm with $850M under management and offices in the U.S., Europe and Israel. Partech invests exclusively in Information Technology and the firm’s internationally integrated team of investing partners work together closely to find the most innovative companies demonstrating high return potential and disruptive technologies in the Software & Internet, Communications & Components and Healthcare IT sectors. Partech has a unique 20+ year track record assisting its portfolio companies to become global market leaders. To learn more go to www.partechvc.com.
We basically think RockYou is one of the top acquisition targets for 2008 as the price could be anything but in the “hundreds of millions” range.