2 years. I even registered the domain my3words.com.
What did I do with it? Not much. I have no idea if Mark saw my post or not. I kind of hope he did, so that I can feel a little better about not executing. That maybe I inspired him.
However, that doesn't change the bottom line. He executed. Worth-ful. I had the idea, but didn't execute. Worthless.
Hats off to Mark.
Nice work on phone 7 btw. I really enjoy it. I just wish scrolling performance wasn't so damn hard to get right. Since I wouldn't normally get your attention how do you go about getting an app featured in the marketplace? [whoring] My latest app isn't the most awesome thing ever but it's fun for kids and it tombstones correctly. http://wp7.apphab.com/sticker-draw-by-ideaindustries-net/ [/whoring]
Maybe at some point this year I'll pull my finger out and find time to do something meaningful with it, before the window of relevance runs out...
1) building a prototype (which, knowing Mark, I'd say took him at most 2 days)
2) sticking with it for several years and making it profitable, through the thick and thin, the emotional roller coaster, and all that.
It took me a year to complete stage (1) and I'm still on stage (2), three years later.
My web app (a casual MMO game) had the same wave of organic growth in the beginning that Mark's had, was mentioned on top blogs in the game industry, played by news anchors on live local TV news half a country away, etc., (this list goes on and on). Yet my site never got drooled over on Hacker News or Tech Crunch (possibly because I never submitted it to either), and I never had all these people telling me how great I am, how awesome my idea was, and sounding so sure that it will make me rich.
My site has 10x more users than threewords.me, been cloned by many developers in various countries around the globe, and still retains the top spot among those competitors. In fact, it seems that I actually invented a new genre of games with my idea (how many people get to say they invented Tetris, FPS, RTS, RPG, or MMO?)
All this, and yet I'm still barely making more from the site than I could be making from working at McDonald's. Yet I persist. It's been my full-time job for the past 3 years (the web app, not McDonalds :)), ever since I parted ways with my well-salaried software engineering job.
If anyone is tempted to call me stupid or lazy for not making millions from my idea, I'll be the first to admit that maybe I am. I didn't do any marketing or emailing Arrington, or any of the like. Instead I've been focused on building what my users want, developing features, fighting fires, and talking to users (many of whom constantly criticize me for not pushing out new feature fast enough).
Not a single real user ever said to me "Wow, this will make you rich," it's always more like "Wow, I LOVE your game! Please add features X, Y, and Z. They are super important! Hope to see X, Y, and Z working soon!"
Therefore, I sometimes think the startup community needs a dose of sanity. Not every tiny app is going to make millions. The web economy seems like a gold rush for many. If threewords.me makes any real money from this sale, it will be due to the exposure it's received to people participating in that gold rush.
In conclusion, I'd like to say that my comments are not intended just for criticism. If any of you think you know how you could make tons of money from threewords.me or from a casual MMO game (that doesn't have any virtual goods to sell), then I hope you can tell us how you would do it, rather than making assumptions that somehow anyone can get rich by building a free app and getting several hundred thousand people to sign up for it.
(P.S. Mark, I think you're a great guy and your app is very nice, so please don't take my comments the wrong way - I'm just trying to add some perspective to this discussion.)
what is it?? and how is it not earning a livable wage with 2 million users?
I'll just say that it's a very simple skill-based, text-based multiplayer race-against-others game (something like a multiplayer speed Scrabble). It has almost no graphics and uses AJAX.
how is it not earning a livable wage with 2 million users?
It's livable if you have very low expenses, but in my limited experience, 2 million users just aren't enough for a free website to make good money. Maybe I'm hugely under-monetizing the site somehow, but I don't really see a good source of revenue other than from ads.
In short, it's a lot easier to come up with an idea when you don't have to actually do the work to make it feasible. See also: "I have an idea, I just need a programmer or two."