Susan Wu, MBA '06: Passionate about building great consumer products
"Though venture capital can be rewarding, I missed the opportunity to work with a closely knit team to build something extraordinary," Wu says. "I have the utmost respect for all the entrepreneurs, hackers, and self starters out there who defy the odds to work for what they believe in."
Selected as one of Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People in Business for 2009, Wu is noted as "The first venture capitalist to focus on virtual goods -- products that don't exist offline, such as Facebook gifts and everything your avatar needs in Second Life." (See http://www.fastcompany.com/100/2009/susan-wu) Virtual goods provide the revenue stream for Ohai, as well.
"Being the CEO of a startup is the hardest job I've ever had," says Wu. "Every day there are innumerable, unforeseen emergencies that arise, no playbook, and you just have to do the best job you possibly can. This has simultaneously been the most challenging and most rewarding year of my life so far."
Wu, whose experience includes volunteering and working for the Apache Software Foundation, a leading open source software organization, says that her open source background is "incredibly related to everything" that she does now. She pinpoints a couple of valuable lessons she has learned from working with the open source community:
- It can be powerful (and world changing) to align peoples' individual passions in a focused, coordinated way.
- Decentralized community movements can be so much more effective and resilient than firm structures.
Wu and her team are excited about Ohai because they are building something they believe in. "[We believe] that something like a game can transform peoples' everyday lives, and that through the daily practice of playfulness, we can learn something about ourselves and grow," says Wu.
In an entry on her blog at Ohai, Wu compares her daily practice of yoga to the daily 'practice' of playing an MMO: "...if an MMO could help you feel heroic and accomplished, a little bit each day, how would that translate over time into a new kind of muscle memory? What could you be in your everyday life if you felt heroic rather than defeated and hopeless? And if you felt heroic and acted as such, how would that then spread to your friends?"
"Play is not frivolous," says Wu. "It's necessary!"