Presto, Tibetan Bowls, & Dr. Seuss: How Michel Kripalani Got His Entrepreneurial Karma Back

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real production values. It was almost unfair that we came to play at the iPhone party, because we have guys who have decades of experience writing code.”

By the end of last year, Kripalani says Oceanhouse had three licensing agreements (including San Francisco-based Chronicle Books) that enabled the company to create stand-alone books and related apps for the iPad and other Apple devices. “We’re taking the back catalog of existing products and adopting it for mobile devices,” he says. “We’re helping old school publishing companies move to the digital age, and in the process we’re creating a new publishing house.”

iPad Yertle the Turtle

iPad Yertle the Turtle

The company is moving rapidly through the Dr. Seuss titles (priced at $3.99 each), beginning with “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” in December and “The Cat In the Hat” in February to “The Lorax” in April and “Yertle the Turtle” in August. Oceanhouse also has plans to expand with other popular children’s book titles. “This year, we already have eight,” he says, “and we’ll be announcing more in September as we start rolling out more stuff for the iPad.”

If Kripalani is on a roll, though, it hasn’t always been that way.

I first met him in the summer of 1993, when he was 25 years old—and he was just shipping an interactive sci-fi adventure computer game called “The Journeyman Project” on CD-ROM. As the president of a youthful partnership-turned-overnight success called Presto Studios, Kripalani had spent the previous two years overseeing the 15,000 hours of development time needed to create the 400-megabyte program. In the first six months after the project was finished, Presto sold 10,000 copies of “Journeyman” (at a suggested retail price of $100 a pop)—or roughly $1 million—which helps explain why I arrived at Kripalani’s door as a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune.

My story about the explosive success of Presto’s “wunderkind wonks” led me to a succession of other stories about San Diego’s booming multimedia software industry. A sudden demand for … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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