Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Kara Visits the Offices of RockYou

rockyou

So I recently ventured into the heart of the empire of toddler developers with a visit to the San Mateo, Calif., HQ of RockYou, the super-popular maker of third-party apps on hot social-networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

I have been on a bit of a grumpy tear of late about the juvenile nature of these widgets, whose use has taken off explosively, as the sites they live on have grown.

I have felt that most of them have been a bit silly, useless and faddish, rather than long-lasting and relevant.

RockYou’s apps, for example, include: Super Wall, with 1.26 million active daily users on Facebook, which allows you to turbocharge your basic posting wall; X Me, a communications app with 706,000 Facebook users, which allows you to “Hug Her, Slap Him, Tickle Them!”; and Likeness, where you can “compare yourself with friends and movie stars like Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, Keira Knightley and many more,” which has 611,000 active Facebook users.

Like another widget maker, Slide (I did a post and video on Slide here, as well as a three-part interview with founder Max Levchin too), the start-up has big VC backing. In RockYou’s case, it is funded by Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Partech International.

Of course, there are the rumors of big-money buyouts and even IPOs for these developers.

I am not so sure this is a good thing, but I do also believe there is something important going on with companies like RockYou, which could become akin to the major software makers of the past era. If, of course, they grow up a bit first.

Here’s my video of a visit to their office (and here is an accompanying interview with its co-founders Lance Tokuda and Jia Shen), where one employee jokingly played dress-up just like an adult, sporting a suit and tie just for me.

Oh, those crazy kids!


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus