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12 Year Old Gets $6.5M for Gaming Company 180

Bayscribe writes "A Silicon Valley company co-founded by a 12-year-old has just raised $6.5 million in venture capital. PlaySpan, based in Santa Clara, Calif. says it offers game publishers a technology that lets users make payments and shop for other items. It calls itself the first "publisher-sponsored in-game commerce network." Arjun Mehta, a 6th grader, says on his Web site that he is passionate about software that can make the game experience more "rewarding," and that he started the company last year in his garage. He paid for it from earnings made from selling online game items he won."
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12 Year Old Gets $6.5M for Gaming Company

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  • bubble 2.0 (Score:5, Funny)

    by wwmedia ( 950346 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @05:41AM (#20678549)
    i smell another dot com bubble bursting
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @05:47AM (#20678573)
      *sniff* Oh, ok. I already thought someone had something reeeeally bad for lunch.
    • Incorrect linkage (Score:5, Informative)

      by asliarun ( 636603 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @05:53AM (#20678597)
      The linkage in the article is incorrect. The linked article talks about a startup (Elementeo) founded by a 13 year old kid named Anshul Samar, and NOT about PlaySpan, supposedly founded by 12 year old named Arjun Mehta.

    • Re:bubble 2.0 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by discord5 ( 798235 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @05:59AM (#20678629)

      i smell another dot com bubble bursting

      Nope, those are the diapers these babies are still wearing.

      Who invests money in 12 year olds? Who is so insane to do such a thing? Sure, 12 year olds can be bright, talented and even gifted, but I wouldn't trust a 12 year old with 6.5M $, nor his 11 year old vice-president of sales sister for that matter, to make correct business decisions.

      I think it's time I try to sell this kid my 6.5M matchbox car. It's a classic collectors item, worth meeeeellions on ebay.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by iamhassi ( 659463 )
        "Who invests money in 12 year olds? ... I wouldn't trust a 12 year old with 6.5M $"

        Maybe someone that wants to lose 6.5M?

        I love the end of the article "No word on when PlaySpan will be launching."

        His entire company is a website describing a great idea and that's all it is. The software will never launch. Why would it? He has 6.5 million, technically owned by his parents because children don't really control anything unless they're emancipated, he can't even sign a contract.

        If I was his parent
      • My mom once invested $5 in my lemonade stand. I went bust in 24 hours, mainly due to the fact that I could only be bothered to stand behind it for 1 hour because all my friends were out playing on bikes. I tried to get my kid sister to buy me out for $2, but she had just blown her cash flow on candy, stupid investment if you ask me, no long-term gain, well she'd probably argue about the lack of long-term gain prospects of eating too much candy now.
        • I was getting ready to go fishing with a colleague of mine a while back, and his neighbors kid had set up a lemonade stand at the front of their house. I watched the dad tell the kid (loudly) that he wanted his money 'Right now!'. The dad was demanding the kid pay the rent for the space of the stand, and the money he owed for the lemons and sugar he got from the house. "you have to pay your bills!!"

          The dad is quite a big business man and appeared to be teaching the kid the lesson that you don't make mon
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by plurgid ( 943247 )
        Two Words: Awesome Express
      • Maybe they are the next Demosthenes and Locke?
    • Re:bubble 2.0 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @06:01AM (#20678631) Homepage
      From the summary it reads like he created an in-game way to buy items.
      I'm pretty sure I've seen this before (i.e. Second Life) and no company worth it's salt would have any trouble implementing this themselves.
      • I played a free game last year called Silk Roads Online that allowed you to buy items in the game for real currency. In fact, it was the primary source of revenue (as far as I know). Heck, I think the games still going and that they are planning a new expansion according to a quick web search.
    • Re:bubble 2.0 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:29AM (#20678935)
      I smell someone with a dad in the industry who gave him access to all the necessary advantages.

      These wonder-kids never spring up out of trailer parks where mom and dad flip burgers and the most advanced high-tech device they own is a VCR.
  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Thursday September 20, 2007 @05:42AM (#20678555) Homepage

    From the article:

    Mehta said that he now intended to drop out of the sixth grade. "School is great, but now that I've got a multi-million dollar company, I need to concentrate on that. After all, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs did it. Sixth grade will still be there waiting for me in a few years. Now excuse me while I ask my mom to drive me in my new Ferrari to the mall."

    • by FinchWorld ( 845331 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @05:45AM (#20678565) Homepage
      Now excuse me while I ask my mom to drive me in my new Ferrari to the mall.

      Finally! A Slashdot story we can all relate to!

      • by value_added ( 719364 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @06:50AM (#20678809)
        Finally! A Slashdot story we can all relate to!

        Even better ...

        he started the company last year in his garage. He paid for it from earnings made from selling online game items he won."
        Dunno about you, but I've always dreamed of moving out of the basement and buying my own garage.

        Aren't dangling participles fun? ;-)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
      Is that legal? In the UK, you are required to receive full time education until you are 16 (either in a school or at home). You are also not allowed to work more than a small number of hours a week, although being a CEO probably wouldn't be a problem if you didn't count time spent on the golf course as work.

      Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs dropped out of university. There is a huge difference between doing that and dropping out of school.

  • Not only is this story almost certainly a dupe, it's also over 4 months old.
    • Re:dupe (Score:5, Funny)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @05:49AM (#20678583)
      Not only is this story almost certainly a dupe, it's also over 4 months old.

      In other words, could someone check whether that company still exists?
    • You must be new here ;)
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by asd-Strom ( 792539 )
        You must be new here.

        That joke requires you to have a lower userid than the parent.
        • Your irony detector must be at the dry cleaners.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by troc ( 3606 )
            I remember when this was all fields..... :)
            • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

              Fields? Huh. I remember when this was all molten rock and hadn't even finished cooling yet! Now you kids get off of my lawn!
              • Re:dupe (Score:5, Funny)

                by Puff of Logic ( 895805 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:25AM (#20679659)

                Fields? Huh. I remember when this was all molten rock and hadn't even finished cooling yet! Now you kids get off of my lawn!
                Molten rock? Luxury! We used to have to bring our own interstellar dust in a bucket and hope that we could pile up enough to have it hold together under its own gravity!
  • riight. (Score:5, Funny)

    by apodyopsis ( 1048476 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @05:48AM (#20678575)
    dupe or not - that kid has just got to be an insufferable, annoying little snot.

    a bit like "doogie howser MD" only real, remember that?
    • Re:riight. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr@macTOKYO.com minus city> on Thursday September 20, 2007 @06:52AM (#20678815) Journal
      Until and unless you meet the kid, your assumptions about his character are nothing but projections of your jealousy.

      I say, good for him.

      Now the VC, on the other hand, is probably out of his mind.


      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Until and unless you meet the kid, your assumptions about his character are nothing but projections of your jealousy. ... Now the VC, on the other hand, is probably out of his mind.

        Have you met the venture capitalists?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jcr ( 53032 )
          Have you met the venture capitalists?

          Not this particular bunch, but I've met enough VCs to hold them in low regard in general.


          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by GeckoX ( 259575 )
            And I've met enough 12 year olds to know this is not something ANY 12 year old I've ever met could handle.

            Yet you flog one person for suggesting that, but flip when the discussion turns to the VC's...why the hypocrisy? Your original point was a good one, having not met the kid, lets not judge him...but you'd best carry that through or you start coming off as an ass.

            • by jcr ( 53032 )
              I'm willing to give 12 year-olds the benefit of the doubt, and I'm not willing to do likewise for VCs, because of the experiences I've had with each group of people. Clear enough?


              • by GeckoX ( 259575 )
                Yes, your hypocrisy is very clear indeed.

                Look, I get your point, and you'd be in the clear if you hadn't gotten up on a high horse about it...but you did, and now you come off as a hypocrite. Clear enough?
            • by tm2b ( 42473 )
              You've obviously never dealt with VCs.

              All types are 12 years old at some point. VCs experience selection pressures that weed out all but the most parasitic and useless examples of humanity.
      • Does anyone have the VC guy's contact info? I have some ocean front land on the Sea of Tranquility on the moon I'd like to sell him.
    • Jealous much?
  • Confused (Score:2, Informative)

    Is it just me or the summary bears no relation to the article it links to. The article talks about this kid inventing a board game, not "a technology that lets users make payments and shop for other items".
  • I thought the kid had sold his company for $6.5m

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2007 @05:57AM (#20678613)
    The actual article is here [venturebeat.com].

    Apparently the kid isn't an actual co-founder, nor the CEO. It's his father running everything, the kid is just a sensationalist marketing tool.

    Really, I highly doubt these kids even know a tiny fraction about the technical aspects of what they're selling or how it's done. They'll get lots of money for sure, and also learn a whole lot along the way, but they're definitely not the brains or management behind the operation at the moment.
  • by Nymz ( 905908 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @05:58AM (#20678621) Journal
    This one turned 13 before I got to the article.
    • by Leto-II ( 1509 )

      This one turned 13 before I got to the article.
      The kid and company magically changed names too!
  • Link and Blurb about two very different things.
  • I wonder... (Score:5, Funny)

    by farkus888 ( 1103903 ) * on Thursday September 20, 2007 @05:59AM (#20678627)
    I wonder if this is what my mom thought I could have been doing with my time when she kept yelling at me for wasting all my time touching myself when I was 12?

    I'll have to ask her sometime.
    • by EllF ( 205050 )
      Jealousy isn't quite so rational. (zing!)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jollyreaper ( 513215 )

      I wonder if this is what my mom thought I could have been doing with my time when she kept yelling at me for wasting all my time touching myself when I was 12?

      I'll have to ask her sometime.
      All I have to say is "thank God there weren't webcams back then." Ah, yes, that creepy line between capitalism and child abuse.
    • by vux984 ( 928602 )
      I wonder if this is what my mom thought I could have been doing with my time when she kept yelling at me for wasting all my time touching myself when I was 12?

      I'll have to ask her sometime.

      Sometime. Not now though.

      Because your much too busy right now.

      What with alternating between reading slashdot, and touching yourself. ;)
  • The correct link.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by slashmojo ( 818930 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @06:12AM (#20678667)
    Makes slightly more sense with the correct link..

    http://venturebeat.com/2007/09/19/playspan-run-12-year-old-ceo-gets-65m-in-venture-capital/ [venturebeat.com]

    Which is not to say that investing $6.5M in a company run by a 12yo makes much sense but stranger things have happened at sea.. or so they say.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drspliff ( 652992 )
      I've yet to meet a 12 year old that was able to manage anything real-world, like a company involving millions of dollars of VC.

      I was around the same age during (first) the .com bubble and came up with a few good ideas (some very web 2.0 ideas, like automatic bookmark uploading, sharing & sorting to keep your bookmarks online and share them with your friends or subscribe to other people's bookmarks or topics). However I never got any of them off the ground because 1) I didn't have any sense of business 2
      • by Nazlfrag ( 1035012 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @09:13AM (#20679565) Journal
        You missed the point thanks to the Worst. Summary. EVER. If you had the dad this kid had, none of your other points would matter. The fact that his parents are exploiting their children for marketing hype seems to have been missed by everyone, all too happy to project their fantasies onto the hype.
    • Is investing in a US based company that is based around selling items in video games. To the best of my knowledge, all MMORPGs fall in to one of two categories relating to online sales of in game stuff:

      1) They support it fully, and thus facilitate it themselves like, say, Linden Labs. As such there's very little market for a secondary company, the operators already take care of things and they can offer things nobody else can, like security of transactions.

      2) They hate it and it is a banable offence. Blizza
      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @07:44AM (#20679001) Journal

        The company seems to be aiming to sell their product / service to people who run MMORGs. I a few MMORGs start using it, then you could have interesting situations where people are trading objects in one world for ones in another. This could lead to inflation and exchange rate fluctuations between the two worlds much as you currently get between countries. I wonder what their plan is to counter this.

        • Simple. Hire an economy professor [slashdot.org] to learn how to deal with these situations. Complex economy conditions can quite naturally appear in online games with large populations, you'd do well to have an expert handy.
  • Man, screw college grads with innovative, realistic ideas. I'm givin all my cash to this 12 year old whose mom told my firm that we stand to make millions!
  • Micropayments? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @06:25AM (#20678725) Homepage
    Isn't this just micropayments? Seriously, this is why gaming is dying. Developers will send out a half finished game and then charge people to download the extra content (i.e. the stuff they couldn't fit in before the deadline).

    Let's face it, in a couple of years you'll get a game, say, Tekken where the character only has one costume. You'll then have to download the additional 5 different costumes at $2 a go. They'll do the same with maps and you'll only be able to play online with people who have also bought that map...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
      You paint a fairly bleak picture of the future. This could also be a means for returning some of the control of the industry to small-time developers. From your homepage and sig, I'll assume you are connected in some way to the Blob Wars series[1]. I enjoyed Metal Blob Solid, but most modern games are written by huge teams of people and a small project can't really compete with them. A few people, however, could write (and sell) a few levels and characters in an online game.

      Remember Quake? The game

    • by Lectoid ( 891115 )
      This has already been done. With "Gears of War", they came out with a few maps you could buy. Kameo, one of the first xbox 360 games, had a few costumes you could buy. I bet if I looked, I could find a dozen or so games where you almost needed to buy something to be better in the game. I used to play Chromehounds (another 360 game), you could buy better weapons if you wanted to, but as far as I could tell you couldn't win them in the game. I stopped playing it because of that.
    • You must have played PGR 3 on the XBOX 360?

      The best part - I personally bought the extra car packs. I started a system link game, unknowingly using a car from that pack (BMW M3). The other player was unable to race, but with no error message or anything. We just couldn't start it.

      Solution? I had to go to the other machine and look over the cars *he* had to find one that I could use. Ended up buying the packs on his account too, just to get it done with.

      This SUCKS. At least *tell* me if I can't use the car w
  • by faloi ( 738831 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @06:31AM (#20678735)
    It sounds like there's some speculation that the kid doesn't really have that much to do with the company at all. Except for being an effective way to generate press. Nobody pays much attention if some random guy gets a few million dollars for a gaming idea. But a 12-year old...that's news!
  • The harsh reality (Score:5, Informative)

    by morpheus83 ( 708114 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @06:45AM (#20678781)
    A comment says The story about 12 year old co-founder is a big oversell...I know because I broke the story on funding two days ago. The CEO Karl Mehta and Arjun's dad is the real guy behind it...arjun just came up with part of the idea for it, and is not really involved with the business per se. Arjun's mention on the site is a gimmick which will be rectified soon...the release doesn't mention him and for good reason. Venture beat is investigating it, turns out the it is a hoax. Father using his son to make millions.
  • by someone1234 ( 830754 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @06:51AM (#20678811)
    The chinese gold farmers do this since years, isn't there already a patent for this business method?
  • Some of you may recall a little bit of crazyness a few years back, where almost a MILLION times as much money as was handed to the 12 year old went down the drain. IIRC the final tab for that orgy was about nine *trillion* dollars.

    We humans seem to very quickly forget the not too distant past.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2007 @06:53AM (#20678825)
    Has anyone drilled down to find out more info on the kid's background?
    I have done a little, and no, it's not the kid in a vacuum making these
    accomplishments. He's 12 years old and smart, not a super genius born with 142
    man years of VC experience. That's not built into the genetic code or injected
    in the pop tarts he eats. But his support network does have this VC experience.
    You could have achieved similar things as a child, if:
    - You lived in Silicon Valley
    - Had a support network with VC pitching experience
    - Had family with connections to above said group
    - Had family that planned for your achievements

    I've read gushing stories of young entrepreneurs that seem outlandish or super human
    in accomplishment for their age. But, when I dive down into the details, more often than not, I find cases of ready made systems that will not let the child fail.
    Stories of a young furniture magnate with 2 warehouses and a booming business, only to find that his father owns 12 warehouses as is accomplished in the furniture business. The media loves portraying these kids in a light of pure achievement with no mention of their contacts, support and guiding but that is dishonest reporting.

    I guess it makes for a less interesting story when you see the looming shadow of a father pulling strings for the child like a puppet behind the curtain.
    The child seems happy enough with the attention though.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Seumas ( 6865 )
      Exactly. It's like when people talk about the amazing startup that YouTube supposedly was and how it was "started by two kids in their garage". Well, not really. One of them was married to a woman whose father was in the industry and rich and had all the right connections and helped fund the startup.

      It's true of almost all of these situations. If it weren't for the parents and their connections, kids like this wouldn't even be introduced to such possibilities, much less given the resources for them, the enc
      • Even Bill Gates had that sort of parent-assisted and grand-parent start:
        http://philip.greenspun.com/bg/ [greenspun.com]
        "[His grandfather] established a million-dollar trust fund for William (Bill) Henry Gates III. In some of the later lessons, you will be encouraged to take entrepreneurial risks. You may find it comforting to remember that at any time you can fall back on a trust fund worth many millions of 1998 dollars. "

        "William Henry Gates, Jr. and Mary Maxwell were among Seattle's social and financial e
    • Keep in mind, though, that connections aren't everything. The guys who rake it in often have some pretty big failures in their past as well. MOST entrepeneurs - even the ones who have good connections and start out ahead of everyone else - still fail to some degree. Whenever I see a story like this, someone is always finding a way to complain about success.

      Well, guess what...this kid and his family succeeded. GOOD FOR THEM. They're going to live and eat well for a long time. They aren't going to live
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Seumas ( 6865 )
        You're missing the entire fucking point.

        Nobody is saying they shouldn't use their connections and insights to their advantage. We're saying that it's not newsworthy. Presonally, I'm tired of media articles about some wiz-kid who founded his own company or invented some genius device and immediately got it into production and became wealthy before he had pubes when the kid already had the connections and avenues open for him to begin with.

        Think of it this way. Which is a news story? Spoiled child of wealthy
  • and in other news, someone has decided that pets.com is a good idea
    • They need a really good pet related mascot, say a dog with a black circle painted around his eyes...

      What, a sock puppet you say, now that sounds like a really stupid idea! Ah, what the hell, let's get a Superbowl ad too while we are at it!
  • Should read: "12-year old takes credit for his father's entrepreneurship and garners headlines for his father's company, father rewards extra publicity with new ferrari which kid will subsequently wreck during driver's ed"
  • by superdude72 ( 322167 ) on Thursday September 20, 2007 @08:34AM (#20679257)
    I couldn't help but notice that Bayscribe's (the submitter) e-mail handle is VentureBeat. So I'm assuming he wrote the article that the writeup links to? If so, that needs to be more clear in the writeup. It's not enough that the e-mail address is a tell. He isn't submitting this article as a disinterested third party who finds it interesting; he most likely wants to drive traffic to his site.

    Kind of explains a lot, actually.

    How very Web 2.0 Bubble...

    Well, there goes 5 minutes I'll never get back.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2007 @08:37AM (#20679275)
    I know his father Karl Mehta. He hails from Bombay/India and is a known 'hack' in Silicon Valley devising all sorts of get-rich-quick schemes with his VC brother Miten Mehta (go google). This appears to be one of his yet-another pipedreams. His previous idea was Tradeits.com (www.tradeits.com) which didnt reach anywhere. More here: http://center.spoke.com/info/p2iETB/KarlMehta [spoke.com]

    Please don't waste a min of your time on this crap. Arjun, his son, has no clue about what's going on - his father is using him for the dramatic effect.
  • Such a beautiful, obviously overpriced candidate for shorting.
  • I wish ... (Score:2, Funny)

    by xednieht ( 1117791 )
    my kid would find a generous VC to suck money out of instead of always emptying my wallet.

  • by mdwh2 ( 535323 )
    Something that is common on games programming websites (such as Gamedev) is someone with no industry experience, or even programming ability, wanting to make their own game - either assuming a company will pick it up, or wanting to start their own company.

    They tell us how they have a great "idea" for a game. They want programmers to work for them; we ask what they will contribute, and it's "ideas". We tell them that it's like someone with no experience in car design saying they have a great idea for a car,
  • if you RTFA *referenced* by TFA, you go on to find out that the company was *founded* by a kid, but no longer run by one. Very deceptive!

"Marriage is low down, but you spend the rest of your life paying for it." -- Baskins