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Why Minecraft is the new Microsoft Office

Wed, 10 Sep 2014 14:22:23 -0400


While news of the Apple Watch has been dominating the news cycle, we also learned that Microsoft is in talks with Mojang about a possible acquisition for $2 billion.

This possibility has surprised the people who are familiar with Mojang as it’s a company known for their independent spirit.

Surprising but understandable.

Minecraft has been a best-seller game across every platform on which it is offered — Xbox included. Its iOS version is the highest-grossing paid iPhone app. And some reports suggest Microsoft is very interested in porting the game to its mobile platform.

What most people will miss is that Minecraft is much more than another game. The first analogy that people use is that Minecraft is like Lego. It’s a true, yet unorganized, platform where kids from 6 to 14 spend a big part of their free time. Not just playing, but creating and interacting with other kids. 

Mojang has about 40 employees but the Minecraft army is in the magnitude of thousands. These people maintain thousands of public servers hosting multiple different flavors of Minecraft. Created by other thousands of modders (not by Mojang developers) you can find themed virtual worlds: Star Wars, Pokemon, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, the entire country of Denmark, the list goes on and on. All because of Mojang’s laissez–faire, hands-off, create-your-own-world approach.

There’s obvious value in Mojang for its sales — its 2013 revenue was $326M — but the value of the community that comes attached is worth more than that $2 billion price tag. I expect that Microsoft knows this well and that they hope to pay a bit more attention to the community. Mojang has been known to work at its own pace, with a long backlog of features that in some cases have taken years to release. A server mod API, for example, has been in the works for awhile and has no scheduled release date.

With the right strategy and resources Microsoft has the opportunity to amplify this amazing creative platform. When personal computers arrived Windows was so ubiquitous that Microsoft Office became a very popular creative suite. Perhaps Microsoft can turn Minecraft in a new creative suite for the next generations to come.

We at Playful Data feel very lucky to be in the convergence of these events as we launch Playful. It’s a platform that allows kids to create and maintain online profiles that showcase their creativity, teamwork and playfulness. And we’re excited that Minecraft is our starting point. We start by creating a baseball-card type profile where kids share their Minecraft skills, creations, favorite servers, etc. And from there, Playful will soon evolve to capture other gaming platforms as well as online and offline activities that showcase the best of every kid.  


Should Airbnb Collect Hotel Taxes?: Video

Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:38:26 -0400

Should Airbnb Collect Hotel Taxes?: Video:

My VR Bibliography from 1993. #oculus

Wed, 26 Mar 2014 15:11:10 -0400


My VR Bibliography from 1993. #oculus

How Your 8-year Old Is Building A Digital Reputation

Tue, 14 Jan 2014 13:36:05 -0500

How Your 8-year Old Is Building A Digital Reputation:


Venture Partner at Collaborative Fund


Image from Thinkgeek.

[In this post I’ll be using the words “trust” and “reputation” interchangeably].

One of my favorite posts here at Progress Report was written by Kanyi Maqubela regarding how the credit…

Will [ ] Make The World Better?

Thu, 14 Nov 2013 15:08:48 -0500

Will [ ] Make The World Better?:


Venture Partner at Collaborative Fund


I recently visited Singularity University and one of many examples of disruptive technologies discussed was the self-driving car. There’s a race to get a product to market in which many players are trying to…

Perspective: Minecraft vs. Twitter vs. Instagram

Mon, 11 Nov 2013 17:23:00 -0500

Progress Report: An Update On – 42 Million People Are Currently In The Independent Workforce

Tue, 29 Oct 2013 14:17:17 -0400

Progress Report: An Update On – 42 Million People Are Currently In The Independent Workforce:


Venture Partner at Collaborative Fund


It’s been a little over three months since we launched the latest of Collaborative Fund’s side-projects — — so I thought it would be appropriate to write a quick update.

For those who don’t know, is…

Progress Report: Should Non-Profits Act More Like Tech Start-Ups?

Thu, 17 Oct 2013 09:08:34 -0400

Progress Report: Should Non-Profits Act More Like Tech Start-Ups?:


Venture Partner at Collaborative Fund


Nonprofits can be slow-moving organizations, with lots of decision-making layers and bureaucratic stickiness. Peter Drucker diagnosed it:

“Nonprofits are prone to become inward-looking. People are so convinced…

Progress Report: Who Really Should Learn How To Code?

Tue, 24 Sep 2013 14:12:42 -0400

Progress Report: Who Really Should Learn How To Code?:


Venture Partner at Collaborative Fund


Photo via

I started coding way before the public Internet became available. I typed FORTRAN code in terminal screens with command line interface to create programs that read and wrote data on magnetic tapes….

There are two kinds of people in the world

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 09:57:19 -0400

There are two kinds of people in the world:

You’ve either started a company or you haven’t. “Started” doesn’t mean joining as an early employee, or investing or advising or helping out. It means starting with no money, no help, no one who believes in you (except perhaps your closest friend

r03: Urban Sql injection. WIN!

Sat, 19 Feb 2011 09:23:40 -0500



Urban Sql injection. WIN!


Fri, 28 Jan 2011 15:58:02 -0500

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Is pivoting natural selection or intelligent design?

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 11:44:57 -0500

Pivoting is not particular to tech startups. Many of the largest companies we know today have done it throughout the years to adapt to new times or even to survive. The list surprises lots of people: Berkshire Hathaway: Textiles → Private equity BMW: Aircraft engines → Vehicles IBM: Office machinery → Computers → IT Consulting Nintendo: Playing cards → Video games Nokia: Rubber boots → Cell phones Pixar: Animation tools → Animated movies Sony: Rice cookers → Various electronics Pivoting as pre-planned strategy is probably rare, most companies do it because they have to do it. It’s however very common to the new generation of tech startups to figure out things one step at a time and be able to understand what/when to pivot. Eric Ries nailed a definition for it: …The idea that successful startups change directions but stay grounded in what they’ve learned. They keep one foot in the past and place one foot in a new possible future. Over time, this pivoting may lead them far afield from their original vision, but if you look carefully, you’ll be able to detect common threads that link each iteration.  Interestingly enough the two leading startups in the hottest space right now have come to where they are through different pivot paths. (It says something about the group buying business model with such low barrier-entry that practically any web business can pivot to it.) Groupon started as The Point, a website that let people create a campaign asking people to give money or do something as a group and leveraged their technology to implement group buying after struggling to get traction. LivingSocial started as a Facebook platform developer. They were all over the place until they acquired BuyYourFriendADrink and e-commerce site that allowed users to buy gift certificates for friends towards any of the bars in their network. One of their salespeople identified the opportunity that triggered the pivot. Watch these companies founders explain how they ended up being where they are. Natural selection or intelligent design? Leave a comment… [...]

Is 30% focus on innovation enough to keep you #1?

Tue, 16 Nov 2010 07:59:00 -0500

The only good thing about not being able to go to the Web 2.0 Summit this year is watching its live stream (or rather archived sessions for the ones who are busy during the day).

Before breakfast today I watched Mark Pincus presentation. The bigger Zynga gets the further from innovation they seem to move. No announcements, boredom. Of 1,300 employees, 400 are working on “new IP”, so roughly 30% of the company is dedicated to innovation (if that’s what they mean by new IP). While there’s a lot of cloning still going on from latecomers it’s important to realize that there are probably 100’s, if not 1000’s of gaming startups that are dedicating 100% (not 30%) of their resources on innovation. And Zynga is probably waiting for that with a big check, so next year they have more boring numbers to show.

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Watch live streaming video from web20tv at

150 years of Gustav Mahler

Sat, 04 Sep 2010 21:00:06 -0400


If you’re a Mahler fan you can create and vote for the dream Mahler symphony cycle. The favourite users‘ recording of each symphony will be released together as a limited-edition CD box-set called Mahler – The People‘s Edition in November 2010.


TigerTag interview at Jason Calacanis’ This Week In...

Wed, 20 Jan 2010 09:36:00 -0500

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TigerTag interview at Jason Calacanis’ This Week In Startups. Skip to 10m 20s to watch Eric Lagier talk about the Open Angel Forum experience and pitch TigerTag.

People ain't no bad

Thu, 14 Jan 2010 23:13:00 -0500

It may not be unanimous the opinion that people are mostly good - I know some of you are skeptical about it. However from time to time we learn stories that remind us that goodwill exists and people will help strangers without expecting a payoff.

I took a cab last night to Grand Central Terminal and as I enter the car I notice there’s a laptop on the back seat. I show it to the driver and he asks me to give it to him because he would drive back to 54th street  - where he had dropped off the unlucky owner -  and return it. I asked if he knew exactly where the person went and as he assured me I handed him the computer.

First reaction I had was to tweet it, and the tweet ended up on Facebook where some commenters were skeptical the owner would ever recover the laptop. To the skepticals here’s some good stuff.

NYC cabbie drives 200 miles to return $21,000 left in taxi by tourist.


The cabbie drove about 50 miles to a Long Island address he found in Mrs Lettieri’s handbag. No one answered the door at the house in Patchougue, so he left his phone number and drove back to the city. Hours later, he received a call from the family, turned around and drove back with the money.

The Guardian is running a reader poll - “If you found a large wedge of cash, would you return it or keep it?” Here are the results so far.


LIRR conductor lauded for returning lost wallet containing $2,800

(image) Pinkham was humble about his heroic deed, and isn’t even allowed to collect reward money as an LIRR employee.

“We’re here for the customers,” he said.

(cross posted at

Sir Ken Robinson speaks about creativity and schools and how...

Thu, 10 Sep 2009 13:47:00 -0400

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Sir Ken Robinson speaks about creativity and schools and how they aren’t usually together. Very funny and inspiring presentation at TED.