With the runaway success of its mobile app Wishbone, the Los Angeles-based venture studio, Science Inc. is making a hard push into mobile content to build what it believes will be the next big media company.
Wishbone is the first mobile app to come from what is now Science Inc.’s fourth big, in-house business unit. The investment group and conglomerate, which made a name for itself with investments in companies like Dollar Shave Club and DogVacay, sits on a large portfolio of companies, in addition to four wholly-owned entities that are part of Science Inc.
The newest of these entities is Science Mobile, helmed by Science chief executive Michael Jones.
For Science, the push into mobile began with a nighttime realization while Jones was waiting for his children to fall asleep.
Like most of us do in the downtime between responsibilities, Jones would click around on his mobile phone, and eventually, he found that he’d reached his limit for content consumption on traditional social platforms.
“I felt like I got to the end of the Internet after the first 30 minutes,” says Jones. “There just wasn’t enough and I thought about things that I loved to do and then I thought… quizzes were fun.”
That reminiscence to his own favorite pastime brought back memories of Jones’ previous life with AOL (owner of this publication), which had at one point operated a successful quiz business.
Armed with reveries of successes past, Jones set out to develop a new mobile app. But being an investor, Science spent some time analyzing the market, and relying on research showing that teens and millennials spend twice as much time on mobile devices as on TV or computers daily.
Ultimately, the conclusion Jones reached was that teens would like more than a passive medium to consume user-generated content, they also wanted an active platform where they could voice their opinions and create a network with like-minded users.
The quiz idea reared its head again. And so Science launched Wishbone, which was designed with those theses in mind.
The app blew up. According to Jones within months the app had more than 3.1 million monthly users, who were not only consuming content created by Wishbone, but generating their own quizzes and polls to share with friends.
“Teenagers don’t watch television and they’re bored out of their mind on their phone and I feel like they can only refresh Instagram so many times,” says Jones. “They only have three channels… there’s only Snapchat, Instagram and whatever else.”
Once the success of Wishbone was apparent, Jones decided to funnel more resources into Science Mobile to build more apps around the same set of theses, and the company created Slingshot targeting teen boys.
Already, it appears that Science Mobile is generating over $1 million in revenue. And while Jones wouldn’t comment on specific revenue numbers, he did expound on the business model.
“We think about it the way we think about a television show. We use big networks and a few brands.”
And there’s definitely still plenty of territory to claim in the colonization of the mobile market.
“There will be a new media company focused on this,” says Jones. “It will look like a Hearst, and it will look like a News Corp. And that realization was enough for me to really delegate and say we have to go really crazy into the sector.”