The team that sold early mobile gaming company Ngmoco to DeNA for up to $400 million is back at the grind again.
They’ve raised $12 million to re-imagine how people consume mobile content around their personal interests. Again, not only are we seeing the same cast of founders including Ngmoco co-founders Neil Young, Bob Stevenson and Alan Yu, we’re also seeing the same investors.
Kleiner Perkins, which backed Ngmoco out of its original iPhone-focused iFund, Google Ventures and Mike Maples’ Floodgate are all back in for this new company.
The big difference is that Young and his team aren’t doing gaming. Like many other teams that came out of the social gaming era, they’re moving onto other types of consumer products.
“I’m not sure it’s smart of anyone to start a gaming company right now,” Young said. “It’s a particularly challenging environment. Incumbents have reached enough scale or a good enough understanding of how to monetize that it becomes really difficult to be competitive.” Indeed, even the biggest companies like EA and Zynga have shed roughly 1,500 jobs this year as they grapple with a massive platform shift toward Android and iOS.
That said, Young said he picked up a lot of know-how that could be put to use in other consumer-facing mobile apps.
“You can look at the gaming business. People ask us if it’s a technical business or a creative business,” Young said. “We’ve always thought of it as a human psychology business. There are a lot of things that you learn while designing games and what motivates people.”
He said he and his team were attracted to try something totally new — outside of their traditional realm of gaming experience.
“For our next adventure, we wanted to build on the power of interests,” Young said. “We’re going to try to re-imagine the presentation layer of the Internet.”
He added, “The way the web has been structured — it’s an Internet of pages and places and it’s borne out of technical documentation project. The problem though is that you end up with 20 browser windows, and explore those interests as open apps or web pages. There’s all these really disparate pieces of information and data.”
In the process, they picked up another co-founder Erik Lammerding, who has been a senior manager for worldwide developer relations with Apple.
That vision sounds like a tall order. Without offering too many specifics, the team said they would be building a consumer-facing app for launch sometime later this year. They say it’s not like a Flipboard or other media browser app.
“With Flipboard, it aggregates feeds from different places. At N3twork, we’re creating a new index of the Internet around interests,” Young said.
They’ve amassed a 12-person team with a 13th and 14th joining soon. Advertising may be part of the ultimate revenue model but it won’t be the only strategy, the team said.