How mainstream can iPhone app Smule become?

Bambi Francisco Roizen · April 28, 2009 · Short URL:

Zynga's Mark Pincus joins the Box as our guest host to analyze the popular app maker

Last month, Apple’s iTunes App Store saw more than one billion apps downloaded. One of the top-paid apps is the Ocarina, whose creator is Smule. The Ocarina turns the iPhone into a flute. This week, we take a look at Smule by watching co-founder Jeff Smith’s pitch.  Mark Pincus, founder and CEO of Zynga, was our guest host, joining me, Ezra Roizen and Zynga’s mascot – Lyla. 

Here are some observations and highlights.   

- Excellent pitch. Great idea. It’s a simple enough idea that anyone from a brilliant venture capitalist to a brilliant waiter can say, “I get it.” This is “exactly something I’d invest in,” said Pincus, who likes the macro opportunity.    

- The Ocarina costs $.99 to download and Smule is generating money today, making it even more attractive from an investment standpoint.     

- There’s a rich opportunity to position Smule as a mission-based company since it's introducing something amazing to the world. 

- While Smule has turned our phones into a musical instrument, is it really bringing music to the masses if it requires a lot of skill to play it?  It’s one thing to quietly playing Texas Hold’Em while sitting in a crowded airport. It’s quite another to be playing the Ocarina.

- Clearly this company requires a significantly high IQ to work there. It's created something groundbreaking and novel.

- We'd like to see Smule turn the IPhone into a guitar or piano and we'd like to see Smule sell sheet music through the iPhone. 


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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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Zynga is the largest social gaming company with 8.5 million daily users and 45 million monthly users.  Zynga’s games are available on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, Friendster, Yahoo! and the iPhone, and include Texas Hold’Em Poker, Mafia Wars, YoVille, Vampires, Street Racing, Scramble and Word Twist.  The company is funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, IVP, Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group, Avalon Ventures, Pilot Group, Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel.  Zynga is headquartered at the Chip Factory in San Francisco.  For more information, please visit



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Smule develops interactive sonic applications for the iPhone and other technology platforms.   Smule is developing the new sonic network, connecting users across the globe through expressive audio.  Smule's Ocarina, I Am T-Pain, and Leaf Trombone have set the standard for iPhone applications, combining innovative uses of the hardware with compelling social experiences. 


Jeffrey Smith

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Ezra Roizen

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Advisor-to and commenter-on emerging ventures

Mark Pincus

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