Nine months after meeting the founding team of A Thinking Ape and telling the story of their escape from Silicon Valley and relocation to Vancouver I had a chance to sit down with them again yesterday.
Co-founders Kenshi Arasaki, Eric Diep, and Wilkins Chung relocated to Vancouver one year ago with the blessing of their three Silicon Valley based angels and haven't looked back. They hired employee #1 in August 2010 and today they have 18 team members working out of their Gastown office space. If all goes well, they want to double that headcount in four months.
But that growth trajectory isn't just wishful thinking. A Thinking Ape is "creating the future of social gaming experiences online" and their first title is the popular Kingdoms at War massively multiplayer online game. It took Kingdoms of War one year to hit 1 Million users and only four more months to hit 2 Million users.
Kingdoms of War has been consistently in the Top 10 Grossing iPhone Apps in the US and is mentioned along with games like Angry Birds and Smurf Village. Based on my quick & dirty analysis, it's safe to say that this one iPhone App is grossing $500K+ per month. Add in the revenue from the web version of Kingdoms of War along with their new titles (Future Combat and Party in my Dorm) and their annual revenues should hit eight figures in 2011.
Arasaki and Chung originally arrived in Silicon Valley to work together on Y Combinator-funded Chatterous and met Diep along the way. Their Y Combinator background could explain why A Thinking Ape feels like it has the DNA of a Google or Facebook rather than a traditional gaming company like Electronic Arts.
Amazon deserves some credit as well. Arasaki and Wilkins both spent time at the Seattle e-commerce giant and give them props for training them on how to recruit great talent.
So Silicon Valley's loss is Vancouver's gain and A Thinking Ape will continue recruiting from across Canada and creating jobs right here in Vancouver.