Profile: Smilebox mixes Web and desktop

(for anyone who’s interested, here’s a piece I wrote on for

Andrew Wright, a Canadian who made his way from Alias Research to Microsoft and then to Real Networks during the 1990s, says he had an epiphany of sorts while building the RealArcade gaming unit, which would eventually become a $100-million-a-year revenue generator for Real Networks.

The epiphany had to do with the target market for RealArcade’s casual computer games. Over time, it had become obvious that the main market for such games wasn’t kids — although they were an important market. The biggest market segment by far, however, was women, specifically stay-at-home and working moms.

Why? Because games such as Bejewelled were intellectually stimulating, but were also simple enough that they could be completed in minutes — perfect for a mom with dozens of other things on the go, and only a few minutes here or there to relax and do something fun.

Mr. Wright took those insights with him when he left Real Networks and started building his own company: a combination greeting card and photo-sharing/scrapbooking service called Smilebox, which launched last year. Much like RealArcade, the service is a combination of Web and desktop: users install a small application, but it is tied closely to the Web.

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A slideshow of mesh 2007 memories

It’s hard to believe that mesh 2007 was only a couple of weeks ago — in a way it seems like so long ago, and yet at the same time it seems like just yesterday. I have to say that those two days were a blast, thanks to all the tremendous speakers and panelists and moderators we had, not to mention all the smart people in the audience who asked a lot of excellent questions.

I used the FlickrSlidr app and some Flickr tags to put together a slideshow of some of my favourite shots — thanks to Rannie and Will and Pema and the guys at Canada NewsWire, and everyone else who took photos. There’s lots more at Flickr under the tags “mesh 2007” or “mesh07.”

Created with Paul’s flickrSLiDR.