Earlier this month, Los Angeles-based startup Worlize (www.worlize.com) announced it had received a seed round of funding, and launched a firm to focus on social gaming and chat. The firm's CEO is Brian McKelvey, who we caught up with recently to learn more about his background, the firm, and the market it hopes to serve.
Thanks for the interview. What's the idea behind Worlize?
Brian McKelvey: We're building a virtual world, which attaches to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and all the social networks. It's built on a gaming platform, and is a way for users to create their own content and portions of that world.
How did the firm come about?
What's your background?
Brian McKelvey: For the last ten years, I've worked in software engineering, ranging from building social viral games for Paramount, Lionsgate, and GSN. Also, more recently, I was with LiveNation and was building point-of-sales applications. It's been a combination of both social gaming and business applications.
What drove you to start the company?
Brian McKelvey: I really wanted to have fun. I wanted to create something exciting, creative, and which users really appreciate, and give people the tools to enable them to express themselves. I am really excited about it. I want to see what users create, and how they use the platform, to build innovative new games and virtual worlds.
You said it's a combination of virtual worlds and social networking sites like Facebook--how does that integrate together?
Brian McKelvey: We provide a fully integrated dashboard which is available on all of the social platforms, such as MySpace and Facebook, which provides friend messaging, notifications, and what not. We also have ties to link up to your friends on Worlize through their profile on the social network site. You can make new friends on Worlize, and then take that and make new connections on the social networks, and develop a more meaningful friendship..
How far along is the service, and when will it be available to users?
Brian McKelvey: We're currently running a private beta, which will become more open towards the end of summer. We'll have an open public beta in the fall.
Finally, what's the big goal for your firm in the next few months?
Brian McKelvey: We've got a lot on our plate. Development is progressing rapidly, and we're hoping to get people into the platform, participating, and getting feedback very quickly. We want to see lots of users excited about it, and for it to grow.