Porter explains what he learned after his app, which once incited mania among the masses, fell from its peak almost immediately after Zynga acquired the company for $180 million.
“What I learned is how to separate your understanding of your business from how you see your business portrayed in the press. Draw Something had unprecedented growth. We got really big, really fast. But we also lost users, as is common with any form of entertainment. People are looking for what is new. When the game was growing, everyone in the company would read the press and the external validation and praise felt good. But when we weren’t hot any more, the tenor of the press changed. It was all about how we were losing users.
“Articles went from being what was right about Draw Something to what was wrong about it. And that made people who worked on the game day to day feel bad. Finally we had to step back from using this lens of external validation. I had to say, ‘Hey, there are still 20 million people playing this game. We are still one of the biggest games in the world.’
“We weren’t the big thing anymore, but when we stopped looking to what others said about us and looked at where we were 6 months later, we realized that we still had an enormous business with this game. And we had a board game and a game show coming out to boot. It’s the startup version of High School. You really do care about what people say about you but you often can’t control that or influence it. You can’t be popular forever. You have to look inside and say, ‘Hey, we are doing pretty good here. Instead of being focused on the writers and bloggers talking about what’s wrong and searching for the next angle, let’s focus on the 20 million people who love our game. The real internal validation.'”
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