JibJab acquired Make Believe Labs: In WebRTC, the road to Money is Context

September 18, 2014

Monetization of WebRTC is best done by focusing on the context.

Hello Santa

If there’s a story I’ve never gotten around to share here it is the one about Make Believe Labs and Hello Santa. I like talking about them during my workshops, but for some reasons, I never did write about them here.

So now I have a chance since they got acquired by JibJab.

What was Hello Santa all about?

Hello Santa was a contact center of Santa Claus. Instead of standing in a long line with your kids at the mall to meet a drunk Santa Claus, you could just download the app and use it instead. From your home. Without waiting in line. And have that session automatically recorded and sent to you. At a premium app price ($15 a pop).

Worth it? Who knows. Let’s say an app costs $50K to develop. Around 5,000 downloads should cover all development expenses after Apple takes their cut.

If what you are looking to do is change the world, then this isn’t for you, but if you just want to have fun and make a living?

To make things super simple, Hello Santa was developed on top of the OpenTok platform as far as I know.

What were Make Believe Labs all about?

From their website:

Make Believe Labs enables high-quality live one-on-one video experiences with the characters people know and love.

So… they take a video call and bring it context, monetizing on that context.

Not changing the world. Just having fun.

What does JibJab has to do with all this?

From their website:

JibJab is a digital media company dedicated to making funny things worth sharing.

Sarah Perez explains it nicely on TechCrunch:

For JibJab, the acquisition makes sense as the company is trying to grow its portfolio of children-focused apps and services.

Why is this important?

  • This isn’t a WebRTC acquisition per se, but it shows the power of WebRTC
  • Make Believe Labs uses an API platform to do what they do, but they wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise. This makes them a WebRTC vendor in my book
  • Expanding into real time interactions and making sense out of the context of that interaction is useful – and worth money
  • When I tell the story about Hello Santa, I usually get raised eyebrows by people who disbelieve such an idea exist out there. Well… now I can easily say that this is a success story
  • Lowering barrier of entry anyone?


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