We have covered the "Mike Lee Phenomenon" on this blog before. Mike is one of the co-founders of Tapulous (Tap Tap Revenge, Twinkle). Today, we finally caught up with him and got his views on the iPhone, funding for startups, and his latest project, United Lemur.
Let's start with the "FundWare" idea, that has been circulating on Mike's blog and elsewhere on the web. After talking with Mike, we now understand the concept. Essentially, United Lemur is going to endorse one app at a time, after having taken that app through a "vetting" process. In exchange for the endorsement, part of the proceeds for the sale for the first month will go back to United Lemur, with a part of that part going to an actual Lemur charity. Update: This appears to be a misunderstanding on my part. See Mike's comments to this post
Interesting idea, but will it work? Possibly. If it doesn't Mike is not opposed to traditional angel or even venture funding, but this is clearly not his preferred path. Right now United Lemur is a loose collaboration between 10 people, including artists ("I want passionate people, and art is not my personal passion"). The company has enough resources to create "four or five games", before seeking outside financing.
United Lemur is entirely focused on iPhone for the time being, and is wed to the paid model. Clearly, there was some friction with the other Tapulous members who were trying to recreate a more mass-market, "Slide/RockU" phenomenon on the iPhone. Mike is highly skeptical of the ad supported market in general, and iPhone in particular. "That has only worked for one company -- Google".
We'll review the first United Lemur app (which we have just got our hands on) soon. But regardless of what you think of Mike Lee, you have to admire his passion.