Once the most-downloaded game in mobile history, Angry Birds has since been surpassed by rivals like Candy Crush and Clash of Clans. And as users move away from paid apps towards freemium models, Rovio’s cut its headcount by nearly 50% (and been through 2 CEOs) since 2015.
To combat this, Rovio has had to rethink their strategy — and it looks like it’s finally paying off.
They’re now an entertainment company
In 2011, they officially changed their name to “Rovio Entertainment” and began using their highly recognizable, kid-friendly game characters to expand the Angry Birds franchise.
Starting with branded bird toys, candy, and playground equipment, the strategy culminated in the release of the first app-based Hollywood film — The Angry Birds Movie — which made nearly $350m at the box office last spring.
Rovio’s brand licensing revenue is growing at 4x faster than their game sales. In CEO Kati Levoranta’s eyes, that means their brand is more valuable than the games themselves.
Now, they’re hoping lightning strikes twice
The Angry Birds Movie 2 (getting real wild with these titles, guys) is set for release in 2019, but analysts are already concerned that “flogging” the franchise to death will cause a backlash, a la Farmville in 2010.
Meanwhile, the public market hasn’t been kind to Rovio’s peers: on average, shares of entertainment software companies have dropped 18% from their offer prices this year.
As one analyst put it (paywall), the question is not how to make another Angry Birds movie, but rather, “How do you make another Angry Birds?”
Put a bird on it
China’s internet addiction bootcamps are getting out of control
On August 3rd, Liu Dongmei dropped off her 18-year-old son, Li Ao, at Hefei Zhengneng Education. He’d lost interest in everything but the web — and Liu hoped the $3.5k, boot camp-style internet addiction center would “fix” him.
Two days later, Ao was dead. He’d sustained more than 20 external and internal injuries and, according to his mother, was “completely covered with scars.”
The death is the latest scandal in China’s increasingly bizarre internet addiction industry.
They take internet addiction very, very seriously
According to researchers, internet addiction is similar to other addictions: a compulsion that causes “neurological complications, psychological disturbances, and social problems.”
In China, there are allegedly 24m internet “addicts” between the ages of 6 and 29, and the Chinese government’s way of dealing with this is to establish 300 addiction “camps” throughout the country.
These camps generally operate like recovery centers (kids’ parents drop them off for 90 to 180-day periods) — except they often employ horrendous tactics, like sleep deprivation, extreme physical tests, and electric shock therapy. “Their personalities are annihilated,” one visitor told CNN, in 2016.
And Ao’s death wasn’t an isolated case
Last year, a 16-year-old girl killed her mother after being sent to a similar center where she claimed to have been abused. And several months ago, a teen committed suicide at a treatment center in Xi’an.
An investigation into Ao’s death is still pending, and Hefei Zhengneng has finally been shuttered after multiple previous complaints went unanswered.
We cover a lot of news in this here newsletter. And sometimes, following all these disparate storylines can be like trying to keep up with Snooki at an open bar.
So, here are a few quick updates on some of our recent headlines:
MoviePass is getting lawyer-blocked
Yesterday, we reported that MoviePass is offering 365 movie tickets per year for a monthly fee of $10. Welllllll… not everyone’s on board with that.
AMC Theatres (America’s largest movie theater operator) says they’re “consulting with attorneys” in an effort to block MoviePass users at its locations. Their justification: the MoviePass business model sucks and cheapens the movie experience. Still unclear why the hell they care, since MoviePass will be paying theaters full price for each ticket…
Drunks on a plane
Remember our story on cruise ships’ little alcohol problem (too many people taking advantage of the all-you-can-drink buffet)? Looks like airplanes are having the same issue.
European airline Ryanair is calling for a crackdown on airports’ liberal alcohol policy. Apparently, unlimited drinks before 10am has led to a 600% increase in rowdy passenger incidents — including stripping, public sex, and yelling matches.
People still hate Martin Shkreli
Earlier this month, we covered widely-detested pharma bro Martin Shkreli’s fraud conviction. One of the big problems with the case was finding unbiased jurors — and that struggle has just been further confirmed by a series of newly-released transcripts from the jury selection process.
We call it the Kanye West approach: if you want to build a company culture that doesn’t suck, sometimes it’s helpful to lay out exactly what makes a job sucky, and then not do those things.
Or, as Charlie Munger (Warren Buffett’s right-hand man) says, “A lot of success in life and business comes from knowing what you want to avoid.”
Tech founder Andrew Wilkinson calls these guidelines “Anti-Goals”
Inspired by Munger’s advice (and “anti-inspired” by their “successful” friends who slept 4 hours a night and never saw their kids) Wilkinson and his business partner decided to lay out their nightmare work day, which included:
A packed calendar
Dealing with people we don’t like or trust
Owing people things / not being in control
Having to be at the office
Then, they turned these into rules, or “Anti-Goals:”
Never schedule an in-person meeting when it can otherwise be accomplished via email or phone (or not at all)
No more than 2 hours of scheduled time per day
No business or obligations with people we don’t like — even just a slight bad vibe and it’s a hard no
Never give up voting control of the business
Work from a cafe across from a beautiful park where we can come and go as we please
Landyachtz started 18 years ago in the basement of two Canadian dudes; today, it’s one of the chillest longboard companies on the market. The Dinghy is a perfect little board for cruising around the city, ripping down hills, or just placing next to you to look cool.
Want to listen to an interesting speaker impart wisdom while chugging 40 oz. of beer? Next week, we’ll be hosting Nootrobox founder Geoffrey Woo at Parisoma SF, who will be going over how he launched a cash-flow-positive biohacking company without FDA approval.
Ya know, when one of the characters all but looks straight into the camera and says the movie title in all its glory. Here’s a smash cut of the exact moment in all your favorite movies that makes you go, “ahh he said the thing!”
Remember the ‘Sad Pawpaw’ meme about the grandfather who made burgers for 8 grandkids only to have one show up? Well apparently we’ve all experienced many moments like this in our lives, and author Tim Urban has invented the perfect word to describe this odd shade of melancholy.
PROTECT: Your eyes, without looking like a dork, $95
Felix Gray is doing what should have been done years ago: creating computer glasses that look great. Because we all want less eyestrain and fewer headaches, we just don’t want to look like we wandered out of an arcade.
You know, the minute you get home from work, close the door, and immediately free yourself of your leg prisons (pants), arm shackles (shirt) — or whatever other oppressive clothes you’ve been forcing yourself to wear to work all day.
But guess what, peeps?
The future is now: thanks to super soft fabrics from Marine Layer, we don’t have to sacrifice comfort for the sake of fashion or professionalism.
And we definitely don’t have to limit ourselves to clothes that feel like work just to wear.
Their founder Mike set out to make a shirt that felt as soft as his old favorite tee, but looked put-together enough to wear to work everyday.
So, Mike made his first batch of tees, bought a ‘69 VW bus to transport them, and convinced a bunch of friends to hop on board.
Since then, Marine Layer’s been bringing their signature softness to sweaters, dresses, and outerwear, all made from custom fabrics containing MicroModal, a material made from recycled beechwood that’s sustainable, eco-friendly, and ridiculously soft.
Give your arms and legs a taste of sweet, sweet softness. Shop Marine Layer’s “Hustle” collection, curated exclusively for our readers — even the ones not living that #vanlife.