Forge - A Conversation with CEO Jared Kim
Forge is a new short video clip sharing program that has entered beta and succesfully raised $4.5 million USD in a recent round of funding. Forge aims to be the Vine of gaming. I caught up with the CEO of Forge Jared Kim and asked him a few questions about his new venture.
MMORPG: Jared can you tell us about your history in the games / tech start up space and what keeps drawing you back?
Jared: I’ve been obsessed with building products that help gamers share since I was 19 (I’m 28 now). My last company was called WeGame (founded in 2007) and it was the first application that enabled gamers to capture in-game clips and publish them online. It was basically FRAPS + YouTube but with a very simple user experience. We raised just under $5M for WeGame and I sold the company in 2011. It set the foundation for what was to come later in my career, which is now Forge. Many of the investors and employees at Forge were involved in WeGame, so it’s great to have the entire gang back together.
When we sold WeGame, there was still so much I wanted to do with the product. Forge is my opportunity to finish what we began back nine years ago.
MMORPG: How big is the Forge team right now and what does this recent round of 4.5MM in investment mean for your growth?
Jared: The Forge team is nine people right now. We plan to grow our engineering and product teams, but in general we want to keep a very small, efficient organization.
MMORPG: At one point Forge seemed focused on live streaming of game play. Now you want to be the vine for gamers. What brought about this pivot?
Jared: We actually built the livestreaming tech as a way to see if we could capture gameplay without using any local storage space on the user’s computer, not because we actually wanted to do livestreaming at the time. After early testing, we decided we couldn’t get the quality of the capture to a level we were happy with since it was so dependent on network performance, speed, and user’s geographical location. As a result, the current Forge saves your sessions locally as you play and intelligently keeps the disk space usage under control, though we may revisit livestreaming in the future. When we initially built Forge, our focus has always been around highlights that are 5 - 30 seconds long.
MMORPG: Why did you choose to focus on 5 - 30 second clips originally?
Jared: Early on we did a lot of user interviews to figure out how gamers would want to share. Through these discussions with users, we discovered many of them wanted to share short-form clips, not extended videos of their entire session. We played around with different combinations of minimum/maximum lengths before we ended up with 5 - 30 seconds. In one of our early test versions, it was actually 5 - 15 seconds, but a lot of users pushed for something a little longer.
MMORPG: The whole world is going mobile. Watching short clip videos seems like something perfect to do on your phone or other mobile devices. Currently your website isn't the most intuitive for viewing on mobile platforms. Is this something you plan on changing? Could we see a Forge app soon to watch videos?
Jared: Absolutely! We’ve been making improvements to the mobile web browser experience over the last few weeks that we hope to release soon. Eventually I would love to have native iOS and Android apps for you to keep in touch with what’s happening on Forge. This is something you might see in the near future.
MMORPG: What type of functionality do you plan to build out in the future? Personally I'm looking forward to seeing curated lists of content creators made by other users.
Jared: We constantly think about: 1) how can we make sharing even simpler and more enjoyable? And 2) where would our users like to share their highlights outside of Forge? For #1, we have some some new features we are experimenting with that we hope to share with the world soon. For #2, we are planning to release support for sharing to Facebook and YouTube.
Another area of the product we’d like to improve is discovery. We want to make it really easy and fun to discover content and users on Forge. Now that we have more users on the service, we can leverage the data to provide some great recommendations and improve discovery. Something like you mentioned in your question is totally in the realm of possibility.