Sramana Mitra: How do you find entrepreneurs to develop applications on your platform? How does the platform market itself?
Miko Matsumura: We are working that out as we go. We are in beta at the moment.
SM: And you are doing $20 million already, while still being in beta?
MM: We chose very good initial partners in the start [and] allowed those partners access to our technology. Now our intention is to go to market with the so-called MBASE [model-based architecture and software engineering] technology, which is available to anyone. Doing so encourages this potentially longer tail.
SM: What is the financial structure of your company? Who funds it?
MM: The company has been profitable since inception. It is a bootstrapped company. It is effectively management owned. There are a few minority investors that are inside.
SM: And the venture capital part of it?
MM: The current fund effectively has one LP, which is Kii Corporation.
SM: It is the profits of the company that you are putting in this venture capital?
SM: That is a very interesting model. What I extract from what you are telling me is that you want to create a platform, and you want to have a fund that enables companies to build on that platform.
MM: Let me give you a metaphor: If you look at the TV program “American Idol,” it is effectively a talent competition. If you look at the infrastructure of “American Idol,” they are holding multiple levels of talent competitions. Those competitions filter up into a big elite program. But what is built into this program is a thing similar to a distribution channel. Initially it was mostly just, “We have Kelly Clarkson, who is talented. But as a function of her signing in to ‘American Idol,’ we have certain rights around this person. We can sell to labels, we can distribute, etc.”
We don’t have the amount of control that American Idol has, but obviously the way we view the app store is from a talent perspective. Our goal is to align ourselves with high-quality talent and giving those people the infrastructure they need to be successful. If you look at someone like Kelly Clarkson from American Idol, that is the equivalent of someone who has that kind of success in the app store. Is that person an expert in building back-end server stuff? Maybe, maybe not. Our feeling is that we want to help. We want to help that person become international, achieve presence in some of the largest mobile markets in the world and to potentially get distribution and promotion partnerships and monetization partnerships. What is interesting about what we are trying to achieve is that these are really small outfits of extraordinary talent – maybe one or two people. And they need a lot of stuff to help them get to a global scale, to get profitable and to get successful. This is what we have built in some way.
SM: That is a very interesting model.
MM: It is unique. It is funny evolution after what has happened with the app store. We are already seeing a few successes and growth stories, so we want to see who the next generation of entrepreneurs will be.
SM: Is there anything else you want to add?
MM: If you have folks in your community who are working on mobile apps, we would want to learn about them and see if we can be of any help.
SM: Thank you Miko. This has been very informative.
MM: Thank you, Sramana. Goodbye.