OPW INTERVIEW -- Apr 12 -- Frengo is a 'Social Play Network.' It's MySpace on the go, with some fun bells and whistles. Frengo allows users to post to their Myspace profile, make confessions, send polls and plan nights out…via the cell phone. I talked with Dan Mosher, SVP Ops and Business Development (formerly GM of Jamster USA, and was on the Board of Directors of Intermix/MySpace for 6 years). - Mark Brooks
Dan can you tell me what is Frengo, why is it unique and why do people need it?
Frengo is a company that we put together where we created a set of games and text message services. The games revolve around sports and celebrity themes and popular culture themes. And the services revolve around the theme of bringing together groups and connecting groups and providing fun and interactive experiences for groups. We put together a set of services and games that really connect people, provide fun entertainment vehicles and really bridge together some of the social networks that are online today with people’s mobile phones. I think people need Frengo because it makes your phone a lot more useful and allows you to share and compete and connect with friends, and within groups of friends in ways that you could never do before with your mobile phone.
Personally, what is your favorite part of Frengo? What do you find most fun?
My personal favorite is being able to send out polls and questions to my friends. For example, I sent a message out to a group of four friends that I was trying to organize a Friday night with. We wanted to go to a restaurant in San Francisco. I sent out a poll of our 5 favorite restaurants and everybody voted on that over their mobile phone.
You worked with MySpace in the past. Which of the Frengo services do you think will resonate best within the MySpace community?
We have a service around MySpace which allows you to post comments and bulletins from your phone. So I think for MySpace users that want to connect with their friends, let them know where they are, post pictures in their friends comment fields, I think that’s probably one of the most interesting things that MySpace users will be able to use. No matter what carrier they’re on, no matter where they are, they can post to their My Space profiles. Then we’ve also created a number of widgets, which we think will be interesting where MySpace users can actually post a widget which shows either their final 4 picks or a celebrity quiz that they find interesting, and people can play those games on their phone and have the leader boards and points update automatically on their widget.
When was Frengo started and how has the growth been so far?
Frengo launched its beta in December of 2006 and we’ve done a lot of testing of different games and services to understand the resonance with the customer base. We’re in the tens of thousands of users but it’s still very early.
As you were putting the service together, were there any competitors that you considered as role model services?
We looked at Limbo. We thought that it was interesting in that it was a fun type of game. Our service is very different and we’re not similar in terms of what we do but we looked at the aspects of virality of the service. So that’s a company that comes to mind that has done pretty well.
How will Frengo make money?
A couple of different ways. We will sell premium games so customers will pay a monthly fee or a per game fee to participate in some of our games. We also work with brands that want to create a game or a set of services for a brand. We will be paid directly by the brand to set that up. Going forward we’ll look at advertising and other things.
How can social networking services work with Frengo?
We do a very good job of extending out some of the functionality of social networking services to the phone. We’re not just taking a social network and trying to replicate it on the phone, we actually have intelligence in the network that allows users to participate in fun things on their phones that tie into their social networking profiles. We extend social networking site functionality and provide users with something interesting to do when they’re on the go.
Are you interested in providing co-brands or white labels?
Yes, we can definitely power an Internet dating service and provide the SMS messaging layer and games.
Which carriers are you on deck with so far?
So far the only deck deal we’ve done is with Boost Mobile and that was around our March Madness NCAA Tournament game. That’s really a wagering game where you bet points on upcoming basketball games throughout the tournament. We’re also live and working across all the major carriers in the U.S. including Cingular, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. We hope to announce a couple more deck deals in ’07.
How fast do you see the mobile entertainment services sector growing?
I think that the industry can continue to grow at 30% to 35% per year through the end of 2008. It’s already a multi-billion dollar industry but I think it’s poised for continued growth. Overall, the migration of handsets to higher bandwidths, with higher resolution camera phones is all good new for us.
What are your goals for Frengo in 2007?
Major goals for 2007 are to really get our name out there and then to increase adoption and get hundreds of thousands of customers, and ramp up the services. We’ll really use the feedback loop with our customers to bring to the forefront the games and services that they find most appealing.