Will someone please start a Facebook group to save Scrabulous?
Posted January 15, 2008on:
Here’s Josh(business2.0 founder) writing on what seems to be a tough situation for the two Indian entrepreneurs who launched their facebook app (Scrabulous) last year and are now sitting on a web property that gets 70 Mill page views a month
Hasbro, the owner of the game scrabble, is gunning to bring down the facebook app and has reportedly summoned Facebook to bring it down….
Just wait and watch… will update here on what happens next
Their site launched in 2006 and quickly signed up 600,000 registered users. Not too shabby for a year’s worth of work. So the brothers launched a Facebook application in June, 2007 and the results were stunning: 2.3 million active users as of today. For those of you keeping score, the application generated
270 70 million pageviews in the past month. Not a bad deal for a two-man operation.
But all good things must come to an end, which is bad news for Scrabulous fans, and even worse for the Agarwalla Bros.: Hasbro’s trying to shut the site down. “They sent a notice to Facebook about two weeks ago,” Jayant confirmed to me. “The lawyers are working on it.”
As a recovering Scrabulous addict (actually, I have since moved on to Facebook’s harder stuff, Texas Hold ‘em), I’m devastated. But as a tech writer and life-long student of what passes for Internet economics, I’m baffled. Is Hasbro just a stupid Potato Head? Or is this a brilliant game of Stratego?
My calls to the company have so far gone unanswered. A spokesman for Facebook, who said she was unaware of what was in the works with Hasbro or Scrabulous, said, “we don’t typically comment on legal matters.”
If I were an evil genius running a board games company whose product line spanned everything from Monopoly to Clue, I might do this: Wait until someone comes up with an excellent implementation of my games and does the hard work of coding and debugging the thing and signing up the masses. Then, once it got to scale, I’d sweep in and take it over. Let the best pirate site win! If I were compassionate, I’d even cut in the guys who did all the work for a percentage point or two to keep the site running.
Perhaps that’s what will happen since both the Scrabulous site and Facebook app are still up and running. Indeed, Jayant told me that he was hopeful they’d find an 11th Hour solution. “We’re trying to work out some kind of deal,” he said. I hope so, too.
Jayant said that he didn’t exactly understand what all the fuss was about. Its ability to generate insane numbers of pageviews notwithstanding—he said some players play as many as 170 games at a time on Facebook—the application isn’t throwing off that much money. He declined to say exactly how much, pegging revenues at “over $25,000 a month.” Hmmmmm.
The brothers got the idea for Scrabulous after becoming Scrabble freaks a few years ago and playing at another free site, Quadplex. After it started charging users, however, they decided to build their own “without thinking through the legal aspect at the time.”
Jayant pointed out that there are a number of other Scrabble knockoffs online. “I’m not sure why Hasbro actually picked on this,” he added. Because, dude, you’re the best.