The Bettner brothers dove in head first with a make or break attitude.
“We, you know kind of always had this idea of starting a game studio together,” David Bettner said. “It’s been a dream of ours since we were little kids.”
Paul and David Bettner tied their fortunes and their futures to the iPhone.
“When Apple released the iPhone we thought this is the time to start the company we always wanted to start,” David said.
So after working on games like “Age of Empires” and “Halo Wars,” they left Microsoft’s Ensemble Studios in Dallas to start NewToy to make iPhone gaming apps. Their first real office was in the McKinney Library.
“We’d show up at 9 o’clock when they opened and stay until five,” David said.
Their first move was a game called “Chess With Friends.” Then, they made a Scrabble like game called “Words With Friends.” Now, they only needed a bunch of people to download the games and in a hurry.
“There was definitely one scary moment,” David said. “We were watching our bank accounts draining down to zero and weren’t monetizing well on Chess and we weren’t monetizing well with Words.”
“And, saying like we only have four weeks her before we’ve got to get a job or something’s got to happen,” Paul said.
Something had to happen because they said they were about to go under. But, something did happen.
“We were basically tracking how many new users were signing up every hour,” Paul said.
The brothers watched the downloads constantly.
“All of a sudden something changed on the servers,” Paul said.
There was a massive spike in the download graph and they couldn’t figure out why.
“And we thought it was broken,” Paul said. “We thought the tracking we were doing, something was wrong.”
Then all of a sudden the downloads exploded!
The surge in downloads came from a social networking site. Singer John Mayer sent out one tweet that said, “Words With Friends is the new Twitter.” Moments later the Bettner brother’s iPhone app went viral.
“And it was just like this huge, huge spike after John gave us the shout out,” Paul said.
Then the brothers had a once in a lifetime encounter when John Mayer had a concert stop in Dallas.
“While we were at the concert, Paul and I both got texts from John Mayer’s assistant and she asked us to go back stage after the concert,” David said. “That was a totally and completely crazy experience.”
“We walk up to this door and we knock, it opens up and he’s standing there, just him,” David said. “And he’s like, ‘hey what’s going on? Can I get you a drink?’ I’m like what? This is (surreal) weird and we just went in there and hung out with him for 30-minutes.”
Then brothers said thank you to the singer that rocked their world with just one tweet.