Rackspace Startup Program Spotlight On AuManil: The Online Entertainment Industry’s Whale Tracker

January 31, 2013 | John McKenna

In the Las Vegas dictionary, a high roller is a gambler who wagers large amounts of money. The Vegas slang for a high roller is “whale.”  Whales are people who play a minimum of $50,000 per hand, spin or roll, and who have no problem winning or losing millions in one night. The online entertainment industry is now increasingly driven by whales, particularly where per download or a la carte pricing is used. AuManil is targeting the expected $40 billion free-to-play online games market where they help manage the most valuable players — the 1 percent of players that generate 50 percent of a game’s revenues, the whales.

AuManil’s products help studios and publishers reduce whale churn, increase whale conversion, improve whale acquisition and manage whales across a portfolio of games. The AuManil team of data scientists analyzes an individual player’s financial and game play behavior to profile each player in order to predict lifetime value, churn risk and life-cycle patterns. The patterns let AuManil’s customers engage their players with personal messaging or offers to support that player’s competitive or bulk purchasing or Sunday-church-avoiding nature.

“Our first notion was to just match players better for one-v-one games based on play style – fast vs. slow or aggressive vs. measured, etc,” explains Bart Bohn, Founder and CEO at AuManil. “The end objective was to increase retention and engagement. As we talked with game studios about retention and engagement, they kept mentioning that only a small percentage of the players dominated their economics and that this was a relatively new phenomenon for the industry. They all thought Zynga had this nailed and wanted some of what it was cooking up.”

“We are fortunate to be based in Austin, which has a great video game industry and community,” says Bohn. “We were able to get a studio to give us access to their data to see if we could pull out any whale patterns. After some messy Excel, then messy SQL, and then Python scripts, we identified some interesting player profiles and whale population analyses. We launched an alpha with that studio and, thankfully, they were very patient and generous with us to help us iterate to the closed beta version.”

“For us it comes down to helping our community build sustainable businesses,” continues Bohn.  “The emergence of self-publishing and the free-to-play revenue model has enabled an explosion of new studios and games in the mobile, social and browser segments.  Austin has a ton of this going on, and for them to be successful, they need to 1) build a good game and 2) acquire, retain and monetize whales.  With the second, we are helping to fill a major gap in most studios’ capabilities.”

“We are in closed beta with our Whale Churn Management solution with some Austin-based studios,” concludes Bohn. “We are able to serve a wide spectrum of games – from mobile to browser to Facebook to MMOs, so it is really interesting to see the commonalities across these segments when it comes to whales. Next up for AuManil is to release a commercial-grade version of the Whale Churn Management Solution and continue on-boarding additional games. There has been a fantastic reception for the AuManil solution in the industry and we are looking forward to ramping up in order to serve the demand.”

The Rackspace Startup Program is looking forward to ramping up in 2013 as well by continuing to provide more startups with a world class open cloud computing platform on which to build their business. Contact the Space Cowboys to find out how you can get the rocket fuel to launch your startup.

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