Mobile

Local Hero: Keith Lee, Booyah

Company: Booyah
Location: San Francisco
Founded: August 2008
Founders: Keith Lee, Brian Morrisroe, Sam Christiansen
Funding: $29.5 million
Employees: 50In the heart of San Francisco, Booyah cofounder and chief executive Keith Lee is taking his video-gaming experience and bringing it to the location world. Often times referred to as the new Monopoly, Booyah’s MyTown, an iPhone and iPod Touch game, allows users to buy their favorite locations and charge virtual rent as a way of scoring points. The gaming model goes beyond other services’ badges and titles for a potentially more engaging experience. We caught up with Lee to talk more about his quest to build a new generation of games and how MyTown is helping to lead that charge.

Why did you start the company?
All the founders worked at Blizzard Entertainment and were hardcore gamers. While there, we worked to create epic games with the goal of deep engagement. We began to notice the iPhone and other platforms starting to explode, so we said, “Why don’t we make a real-life game and improve people’s lives by validating their location and having fun?”

What’s the coolest place you checked into recently?
AT&T Park. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at a playoff game, but still ended up paying $80 for parking.

When did you realize it was working?
I remember going to several parties and events and having people come up to me saying the game was really cool and that it was liike playing Monopoly on their phones. After the first month, there wasn’t a location in our database in the U.S. that hadn’t been bought yet on the game.

What’s next for the location-based industry and services?
Now that people are familiar with the check in, it’s now about providing the incentive and activities to make people want to continuously share their location. In addition, the technology for validating a check-in is going to get better and better and is going to be critical. Finally, the check-in is going to expand outside of location and be a key for validating any activities you do. For example, if you go to Equinox to exercise, the check-in will allow the user to share that they went running, which opens up a lot of great opportunities.

Where are you checking in next?
The Hard Festival in Los Angeles for Halloween.

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