Sramana: What is the genesis of Arkadium?
Kenny Rosenblatt: In 2000 a woman joined On2 to run the music version of the system. Her name was Jessica Rovello. I saw her once and fell in love with her. We started dating, and she was an entrepreneur as well. She had created the Blair Witch Project website, which led to her joining On2. We were dating for a while and then one night we were looking at Tower Records going through CDs and talking about our childhoods when it became obvious that we both had enjoyed going to the arcade and playing Pac-Man.
She said she was a great Ms. Pac-Man player, and I told her I could beat her. We tried that night to find a place that had a Ms. Pac-Man game, but we could not find one. We decided that when we got home we would look for a place online where we could play and we could not find one, either. That is where Arkadium was born. It was an idea of playing classic arcade games on the Internet.
We then did research and wrote a business plan while were working at On2. We then realized that in order to really make the company happen, one of us was going to have to quit our jobs and try to raise some money to fulfill our dream. In 2001 I decided to leave On2, and I tried to raise capital. At that time if you had a dot-com in your name you were in real trouble. Needless to say, we were not able to raise any money. That did not mean I wanted to stop. I started taking on side projects doing everything from building small websites to fixing peoples’ printers to make money.
I then decided that I needed help. Jessica decided to leave On2, so we both emptied our 401(k) savings, which amounted to $15,000. We gave ourselves three to six months to make the company happen and determined that if we were not able to be successful after that period, that we would go work at regular jobs.
Sramana: Was Jessica a technical person?
Kenny Rosenblatt: My background was in engineering, programming and databases. Her background was marketing, PR and design. We complemented ourselves well.
Sramana: Did you know how to build a game?
Kenny Rosenblatt: We had no idea how to build a game. We believed in ourselves enough that we wanted to try. We felt if we put an artist with a programmer and we had a good game idea that it would be enough.
Sramana: Did you have to find an artist and a programmer to work with you, or did you and Jessica handle those responsibilities?
Kenny Rosenblatt: Jessica recruited someone from On2 whom she had hired to be our artist who agreed to work with us for shares in the company rather than a salary. We could not afford programmers in New York, so we used Elance to find a company in India that was willing to do the work for $2 an hour.