Executive brief: Disney buys Tapulous

Bambi Francisco Roizen · July 2, 2010 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/1075

Want to know about the mobile app company Disney just swooped up?

Congratulations to Tapulous, the mobile app company founded by Bart Decrem and Andrew Lacy.

This week, Disney announced that it was buying the popular iPhone game app maker for an undisclosed sum to become a central part of Disney Interactive Media Group, as the group pushes into the mobile entertainment space.

We've followed the Tapulous story for some time now. We conducted several interviews with Bart, who was CEO of the popular startup, soon after the company raised $1.8 million from notable investors, including Jeff Clavier, Khosla Ventures, X-G Group, Andy Bechtolsheim, Marc Benioff, Katrina Garnett, Alex Lloyd, Jeff Markowitz, Rajeev Motwani, Dan Rosensweig, Aydin Senkut, Ben Smith, Tim Stevens and Rob Theis, to name a few of a total of 30 angels.

Here's a look at some of our past stories to get a good idea of how they won over Disney.  Additionally, you'll note that we made a good call on the acquisition. To make it easy for you, we wanted to present our reports in what we'll call the VatorNews brief on this great little company that's achieved a nice exit. 

Here's our coverage:

Disney buys Tapulous to enter mobile space

Tapulous, the uber-successful developer of iPhone games like Tap Tap Revenge, has been acquired by Disney to become a central part of Disney Interactive Media Group, as the group aggressively pushes into the mobile entertainment space. Terms have not been disclosed. The iPhone developer is especially famous for the Tap Tap Revenge series, which in total racked up over 35 million downloads and a billion songs played. Tapulous' rhythm-based music games are particularly targeted at younger audiences, with some Tap Tap Revenge editions spotlighting specific artists, like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and Nine Inch Nails.


Tapulous hits 1.3 million installs in less than a month

The makers of Tap Tap revenge, Tapulous, have become a bigger hit than even Bart Decrem, co-founder and CEO, probably thought.  The Palo Alto-based startup, which raised under $2 million in angel funding, launched on July 11th on the Apple Store, and has soared beyond 1.3 million installs in less than a month. Bart, who stopped by the Vator studio for an in-depth interview with me, also said that due to the popularity of Tap Tap Revenge - which has 1 million installs alone - Tapulous is set to break even by the end of the year.


Tapulous eyes profitability

Tap Tap Revenge, the game Bart and I played head on in this interview, is the hit game released by Tapulous, which was founded by Bart and two other founders, Andrew Lacy and Mike Lee.
As someone who follows startups closely, the Tapulous story is a gem. This young startup surged to past one million users in one month and operates on a monthly budget under $100,000, the company, which employs eight full-timers, projects to break even within six months of officially launching. "By the end of the year, we'll be self-sufficient," said Bart, in this interview.

Vator Box looks at Tapulous

Once again, we were pretty spot on with our analysis on Vator Box, our show where we review startups. In this segment, Richard Jalichandra, CEO of Technorati, and a former executive at video gaming site IGN, and Ezra Roizen (digital media investment banker) both agreed that Tapulous should consider selling itself because the games busines is a "hits" business. Both men were also skeptical about Tapulous co-founder/CEO Bart Decrem's ambitions to be the iPhone social network. "Apple wants to be the social network for the iPhone," said Richard. Finally, Ezra pointed out that Tapulous - however amazing it is - runs the risk of becoming another Dexys Midnight Runners, a British pop band mainly known for one hit single "Come on Eileen." This comparison is actually a good one. Many startups would die to ever have a hit. 

Tapulous CEO on too much of a good thing

Too much of a good thing, isn't always a good thing after all. And, when it comes to entrepreneurship - getting too much attention in the beginning can be a hurdle. This lesson was learned by seasoned entrepreneur Bart Decrem, the CEO and co-founder of Tapulous. "One of the things I learned from my previous startup was a company called Flock," he said, in our "Lessons learned" interview segment. "People got really excited about it; it got a lot of hype and attention before the product was ready. We got ahead of ourselves; we raised too much money; we got too much publicity."

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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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Tapulous, Inc.


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Tapulous is a Palo Alto, CA based startup building a family of fun and social apps for the iPhone.  We are angel funded and have released two apps for the iPhone (as of early August, 2008): Tap Tap Revenge (a music game) and Twinkle (the app that lets you connect with people nearby and your friends on Twitter).


Bart Decrem

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