“I’m Bored With All Games.” That is something that Mark Pincus, founder of mobile game maker Zynga, said recently at a gathering of tech entrepreneurs in Israel. I have to say that I am not surprised. Entrepreneurship and running a rapidly growing company (or a company struggling with growing pains) is enormously hard. To keep doing it, you need real passion for what you are doing. I can imagine that it would be difficult to maintain that passion for mobile games after a while. Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that games are not a worthwhile thing to start a company around. I’m a big fan of Zynga games “Words with Friends” and “Scramble with Friends”. I’m glad Mark has made these available to me! But he has made his money. He has more than likely accomplished all the goals he set out with for Zynga and more. I bet he has started yearning to make a different kind of impact on the world.
I’ve become kind of a snob about this after two startups dealing with major global problems. But I also get a bit jealous. Every time I hear about another startup that allows people to share more pictures of cute animals or babies in slightly different ways than before getting bought out for a billion dollars my outward reaction can be something like, “what a waste of time and money that could have been put to good use”, but inside I’m totally jealous. The developers of these “technologies” had no real technical challenges in making it work. Any software engineer can crank that kind of stuff out. There is no risk that they won’t be able to figure it out. They just have to figure out how to get people to use it (not easy of course) and BAM! One billion dollars one year after founding the company. Sounds awesome. But if a company is really trying to do something new that solves a really big problem, things are somewhat different.
So after I get over my jealousy I realize that after enormous success, these entrepreneurs often yearn to do something like we are. And I must say, I cannot think of a more exciting or satisfying place to be right now.