Interview with Jesse Janosov, 27 May 2011
So, how did we get where we are now?
To start off, FooMojo was founded by Ron Hornbaker and Scott Sorochak. Ron was an ex-vet with a dream: to make a website that taught people how to better care for pets in a fun environment.. Ron kicked off his idea on Facebook with the Go!Pokey application. The audience grew pretty quickly and GoPokey became FooPets. The initial audience was adults, but soon after, a younger set of users joined in. These two audiences have very different needs—they are different kinds of people. Once there were two different audiences it caused problems. FooPets was an idea built by a vet — Really, it’s like building a house. Building a house is a complicated thing, as any architect can tell you. Now imagine that your house is being designed by a veterinarian instead of an architect and builders. That won’t work. This is why there are so many deep rooted technical issues in FooPets that are hard to fix. The current team working on FooPets works more like a proper architect. The main problem is this: Like most startups, FooMojo never made a profit. The company has lost money every day since it’s been in business.
Rivet Games needs to make money. That’s the reality of start-ups in the valley. Investors expect a return on their investment. So getting the company in a better financial position was the first issue. We had only two choices: 1.) shut down FooPets, because it was bleeding cash, and then move on to do something else entirely different (not pets) or 2.) Reduce the cost of running FooPets, keep it simple and designed for the children that already make up a bulk of the audience, and rebuild a different product designed for the older audience that is technically sound and can scale as a free to play product. However, seeing as it’s got a strong audience, people who really care, we decided against shutting down FooPets, though that would have been the easier choice. The second issue is the children. We needed to make Foopets as safe as we possibly could for our child audience, which is the majority of users. Parents would contact us about the website and what things their child had access to. Pet Tales, on the other hand, was made for a more mature
audience. As FooPets evolved to be more child-friendly to address the needs of the largest part of the audience, Pet Tales was built for the older FooPets audience who wanted a free to play pet experience.
Foopets now has more parental control, with parents being able to put the dashboard on lockdown.