How to Win the Future of Social Mobile Gaming: The Z2Live Story

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uptake, but that’s not necessarily enough to say we’ve built a business.”

Z2Live currently has a dozen employees, and is hiring for two more full-time positions and one part-timer. Bluhm says the company has “no plans to expand beyond the iPhone until other platforms represent, on volume, significant targets for us.” Interestingly, he thinks netbooks will end up becoming a very important device for social gaming, largely because they will become kids’ “primary connection to the world” through both home and school.

Because Z2Live is venture backed with a decent amount of cash, it can afford to focus on growth—rather than rushing to break even—for the moment. “Our goals are going to be first, grow the community, and second, monetization,” Bluhm says.

Which made me think about the tradeoffs of being incubated with a venture firm versus doing it yourself—and the broader lessons Z2Live could hold for building a successful company, and putting together the right founding team. It also reminded me of something that Madrona co-founder Tom Alberg told us last year: that in some ways, the VC firm’s main competition isn’t other VCs, it’s bootstrapping.

Bluhm, for his part, says that wasn’t really an option in this case. “I didn’t think about bootstrapping this. Madrona is a great investor. I was happy to have those guys involved. And it came with a technologist too [Danieli],” he says. “It’s ‘who’ for me first. Money is always available if you’ve got the right plan. Ideas are all over the place, money’s all over the place. Great teams that want to cross swords and go capture a hill or go slay a dragon are the magic I always look for.”

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