Have you heard of in-chat gaming? Read on…
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with some introduction about yourself as well as Palringo.
Martin Rosinski: To give Palringo’s quick story, I founded Palringo close to 10 years ago. In August, Palringo will be celebrating its 10th birthday. It started out back when mobile apps and the idea of installing software on your phone was in its infancy and beginning to develop and take off. Back then, users would have to use clunky serial cables to install software. Nonetheless, it was quite evident that the potential for third-party apps that go over-the-top of network operators and unlock a lot more potential in mobile devices was there.
When Palringo started, its initial mission statement was to create a product that emulated a walkie talkie or an opportunity for users to communicate using short voice messages but with no limits regarding distance and allow these users to hold global conversations by voice across continents. We raised an initial seed round. It was £650,000 to explore that concept.
As we started to explore that concept, we realised that we were on to something. There was an appetite amongst our initial user base. The desire for more functionality in the initial set of users was there. What we noticed was that the niche was not so much about voice communication, but rather about massive scale chat groups. We ended up with a groups gallery where our users would create and list groups that they created based on conversation topics. We had discussions ranging from politics, aspects of mathematics, to games. It was a thriving community around the world with users discussing every topic of interest. As we continued with our company and received further round of venture funding along the way, we started to notice that a lot of conversations happening on Palringo were related to gaming on some way.
For example, we had active communities that were discussing game play strategies in third-party games. We had quite a lot of spontaneous ad hoc games spring up in the chat conversation where users mediated games amongst each other. One of our first experiments endorsing and augmenting user’s ability to experience game play with each other via our platform was we created a hangman bot, which was basically a bot that hung around inside these chat groups that we had. That was incredibly popular and incredibly well received. User base has an appetite for not only using Palringo to forge new friendships, but also hanging out with these communities and engaging in games. This was the start of our foray into the gaming world.
We decided to expand to provide something significantly more visually rich and compelling. With that, we made an acquisition of a game development company in Sweden that would go on to create a series of games titles that were separate apps from Palringo and completely immersive in terms of the gameplay that they deliver, but then linked back to Palringo in terms of sharing the same community. We said, “Take our community and introduce this game to them.” They would play the game and then come back to Palringo and discuss the gameplay that they just experienced.
The second thing that we started developing in support of that was we acquired a company in Helsinki. It was to focus more on the in-chat games. These are the little games that go on inside the actual conversation in groups and enhance those. It was moving beyond the hangman example I gave into more compelling gameplay where groups compete against each other and creating a layer on top of the chat that is entertaining. At some point of doing that, it became profitable. Our revenue for the last year was around $12 million. We’re looking at year-on-year growth of 172%.
Sramana Mitra: Awesome. Let me ask you a few questions on what I’ve heard so far. You said you acquired two companies to embellish your gaming portfolio. One of them is from the casual gaming side and the other one is from an in-chat game side. Is that an accurate representation?
Martin Rosinski: Absolutely. That’s correct.
This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Gaming: Martin Rosinski, Chief Technical Officer Palringo