Flappy Bird through the eyes of a financier

By , February 15, 2014 7:01 pm

Since I believe Flappy Bird is a Black Swan case, I tried not to give an opinion about the game. What’s more I don’t think I’m qualified to give comments on mobile games since I had never coded a proper game (besides projects for my bachelor).

But an investor recently asked me about Flappy Bird and I felt I had to give an opinion anyhow. Attracting investment is my job, after all.

So here it is, Flappy Bird through the eyes of an investment person.

Is it easy to create a game like Flappy Bird?

No, Dong Nguyen claimed he coded the game singly-handedly in 3 days. But we never got to see the conceptual process behind the games he creates.

Is it easy to create mobile games?

No. It took Rovio close to a decade of resilience before Angry Birds.

Mobile games are very hard to make because

  1. All gameplay, visual, audio need to be better than good.
  2. Technical constraint: mobile phone resources cannot afford being wasted by unoptimized code.
  3. Fragmentation of Android: there are so many models with different screen sizes it is very hard to make games or apps that work on all models.
  4. The battle to the top of the app store: it is a Big Head, only a few top games attract 95% attention. Marketing to reach the top is costly and uncertain.

Why is Flappy Bird so successful?

Luck, a typical Black Swan case. But besides luck let me give you the best explanation I can think of in one diagram.

Besides, Dong Nguyen already explained his secrets on his Twitter.

What about marketing?

I personally believe Dong Nguyen’s story that no pre-burst marketing was involved. It was all viral via influencers and peer recommendation.

Why aren’t clones successful?

Clones are only successful if they are local clones: local language, local community. All Facebook and Twitter clones are dead except Chinese clones. Mobile games are nothing local.

But why can’t people just play the clones now that Flappy Bird is dead?

I guess I have to blame authenticity and originality. Everyone talks about Flappy Bird, if you play a clone, you may fear being judged.

Secondly, it is hard to replicate every exact detail of the game. Horizontal spacing, vertical spacing, movement, arc, the algorithm of sewer generation, haptic response. One tiny subtle difference and the whole experience is altered. It is just not the same.

Vietnam Dong joins Big Mac Index

By , February 12, 2014 12:50 pm

More on Economist

What the case of Flappy Bird means to me, personally

By , February 12, 2014 10:56 am


The case is a validation of the notion that success is stochastic, or in other word more random than we want to believe.

Procint for success, believed by many, is not as random. It takes decades of resilience, self-improvement and blind hope.


The opposite, unfortunately, is not true. Years of hard work and wishful thinking don’t necessarily guarantee success.


In my humbly short career of investment management, I’ve lost count of the times being humiliated by entrepreneurs. But this fanatical case of bootstrap is doubtlessly a prodigious insult.


The worlds beyond Blizzard, Square-Enix, Valve and EA is a vast uncharted and barbaric universe.


Nobody can really be certain about j-u-s-t a KPI. Right, the analyst is left alone in the jungle again, helpless.

Vietnam stock market after Tet 2014: products and players

By , February 4, 2014 5:46 am

It’s not only cash flow, but structural changes are coming about: corporate bonds, open-ended funds, more ETF, reduced constraints on foreign ownership.

Regulators have variety of tools they case use to support the market. It’s just the matter of time.

Local funds are betting on riskier assets including pennies, low liquidity stocks.

My concern is fundamentals in the long run. What’s in there in the economy to support a sustainable rally?

Saddleback Leather marketing

By , February 3, 2014 6:02 pm

  1. Focus & reinforceingly repetitive on its selling point: durability due to leather quality, even to the level of RDF
  2. Consistency of message
  3. Personal (Dave’s POV), narrative (Dave’s stories), questionably authentic
  4. Online presence on influential sources e.g. styleforum.net
  5. Easy to navigate website
  6. Detailed videos on YouTube
  7. Free bags to influencers
  8. Contests: photo upload
  9. Utilize WoM

The only backlash I found was on Reddit.

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