Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Conversation with Rick Marini, Founder of MyRockstar

I had the pleasure of meeting Rick Marini this morning for some coffee at Tully's in San Francisco. Rick was the co-founder of Tickle, an online personality test company that was purchased by Monster for a hefty sum in 2004 (here). After sticking around with the company a bit working as their chief strategist, he took some time off for a round the world adventure last year and is now back doing his next startup, My Rockstar. I'm not sure how quiet they're keeping, so I won't divulge too many details. They're providing a destination for information on music artists - like MySpace Music, but more focused on social interaction.

I approached Rick because he has experience using personality tests to capture data - something we're working on doing. He started Tickle after a very similar experience to the one that got me thinking about Vyoo - a first year business school test we'd both taken. He's also been through the process of building a company and growing a social community/website (to over 1M page views/day). You may remember the "What kind of dog are you like" test that really started his success? He had some great insight on our approach, how to develop a succinct and informative description of our technology, and how to develop viral campaigns. He's a very bright guy and very down to earth who is very well connected in the online world. As we were chatting, Shawn Fanning walked by, a friend of his and the founder of Napster, who just sold his own social network (here). He then went on to tell me that in the 3 square block radius of his office, practically the whole world of social networking exists - Rupture, Imeem, Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, Hi5, among many others. The Bay Area is certainly the hotspot in internet technologies. It's a fun place to be and really the only place I'd consider starting this company. The resources are really unbelievable.

Rick introduced me to a former co-worker of his at Tickle who will hopefully be able to provide her expertise on how to make our technology engaging. After all, we need to be attractive to users...they're the most important component. I'll definitely be following up with Rick - he's a great contact and an all around great guy. I'll also be keeping him at the top of my list when we're looking for additional advisers.

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