Booyah is nearing the completion of its first round of cause-oriented apps for the iPhone.
Keith Lee, (pictured below) chief executive of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company, said the first app will be out this spring and that it will let people do good in the world while fulfilling their own personal dreams.
That may sound lofty, but the ambitions of this team of game industry veterans shouldn’t be taken lightly. This is one of those startups that will get a lot of attention because of the team’s track record of working on some of the most popular video games of all time.
Booyah now has 16 employees — including three founders who were instrumental in making games at Blizzard Entertainment, now part of Activision Blizzard. Lee worked at Blizzard Entertainment on Diablo II and at Insomniac Games on titles such as Resistance: Fall of Man and the original Ratchet & Clank. All of those titles sold multiple millions, and Lee played roles such as lead programmer on Ratchet.
Brian Morrisroe is chief creative officer and co-founder. He spent six years at Blizzard with Lee, as art lead for World of Warcraft and art director of the still-unpublished Diablo III. With 11 years in the industry, Morrisroe has worked on games that have sold 15 million units. Sam Christiansen is Booyah’s chief technology officer and the third cofounder. Prior to Booyah, he worked at Blizzard as a senior programmer for Diablo III. Rob Pardo, one of the top executives at Blizzard, is serving as an advisor. Another advisor is Min Kim, an executive at Nexon America.
Oddly enough, these founders who made addictive games are now moving beyond games to other forms of entertainment. Booyah’s apps aren’t games per se. Other game companies such as Akoha are launching games that allow people to help charitable causes. Booyah isn’t doing the same thing, but that’s all Lee is saying for now. Although he says his team’s building a “playful digital life companion.”
They came up with the idea in the summer of last year and felt it was compelling enough to leave their leadership roles in the making of Diablo III, which is one of Blizzard’s most important games. They raised a round of money from Kleiner Perkins, which had reviewed thousands of iPhone startup ideas, in August. Kleiner Perkins has also funded other iPhone companies such as game startup Ngmoco.
“We want to take all of our learnings and apply them to a new space and audience,” Lee said. “The goal is to get people motivated to pursue their life passions.”