A Word on Startup Culture

Startup culture seems to be all the rage. Companies are changing the status quo of what it means to run a business. Having happy hour, three foosball tables lined side by side, and a March Madness league are all infamous icons of having “startup culture”. Whether or not it works — there are companies receiving hundreds of millions in funding and others going out of business everyday (startup culture, eh?) — is up for you to decide, but Handango embodies this culture, and we wanted to give our word on the current rage about some of the most controversial topics in it.

Whether you like it or not, modafinil has worked its way into startup culture. An unwritten rule of the often foggy lines of any startup, whether it be in Irving or Silicon Valley, is to have an “edge”. Some people get an edge by eating healthy, working out, and drinking lots of water. Others dabble with risky prescription amphetamines like Adderall and Vyvanse. But, the new age of entrepreneurs, namely developers, are switching to a smart drug called modafinil.

It’s becoming increasingly popular for individuals to divulge the fact that they use prescription drugs to increase their performance, both cognitively and at mechanical work. The other day we had our HR department report that there was an individual who classified himself as a biohacker who applied to our company for a developer role, and he got the job. He disclosed that he is an avid user of the wakefulness promoting drug modafinil. Hiding the fact that you use modafinil is counterintuitive: these drugs, commonly coined “smart drugs”, are not one should be ashamed to use. They are not being used to get high or to party, rather, to increase cognitive performance and to gain a mental edge. Who can’t respect that?

At Handango, we have a no questions asked policy. We don’t dig into your personal life and try to uncover what we don’t need to know. You live your life, and as long as you do your job, we don’t try to make your life any harder (in fact, our health, life, dental, and other insurance plans make it easier and yes, we’re hiring). We’ve had developers bring in and use modafinil and love it, and we’ve had others use it and not like the effects it had on them. At the end of the day, there’s no one size fits all answer to cognitive enhancement and smart drugs because everybody’s body is different and there are no two biologically similar individuals, even for twins. What we do know is that the individuals who use modafinil (Modalert being the most popular brand of modafinil online, but Waklert, Modvigil, and Artvigil all making their presence known in the workplace) love it, and its one aspect that allows us to outperform competing firms in this cutthroat environment where everybody is fighting for their piece of the pie. We don’t intrude your personal decisions. We’re not your parents. We hire adults and treat them as such, and as long as work gets done, why bother?

My goal with this is to encourage companies to follow the same transparency. It’s not frowned upon to allow cognitive enhancement drugs in your workplace. Rather, it’s frowned upon to be hiring extra developers and not seeing the results that your competitors are seeing with half as many employees. Don’t spend time trying to boil down every last detail of your developers lives and let them have the flexibility to live their lives as long as they help you live yours.

Isn’t that fair? I think so.

Selenium Ventures Joins Handango

Handango has been the leading provider of mobile applications since the company’s inception in 1999. Saying that a lot has changed in the 18 years that we have been in business would be an understatement. 12 days marks the anniversary of the release of the first iPhone, and in 2016 alone, sales of the iPhone topped 210 million units. The world we are living in is changing fast, and Handango has always been ahead of the curve. Handango was one of the first online software stores to sell mobile apps for personal digital assistants and smartphones. Handango offered and still offers worldwide distribution, support, and e-commerce services to its partners.

On June 16, 2017, Handango was pleased to announce a 66.7% stake in limited liability company Selenium Ventures. Selenium Ventures is an app development company based in Salt Lake City, Utah that employs 45 talented software engineers to create web properties, mobile applications, and other online properties to serve their users. Selenium is most known for their partnerships with large names in the mobile gaming industry, such as 10Bet, Bet365, BetFair, and William Hill. Selenium provides insight on applications such as the Bet365 app and provides users information on how to download the application and utilize it in such a way that maximizes revenue for the associated company — in this case, Bet365. As a result, for their efforts, Selenium Ventures is given a commission on every new user referred to the platform. Selenium owns more than 100 web properties and had net $1.2MM in the 2016 fiscal year, making it a leader in its space.

Handango has made the decision to acquire a majority stake in Selenium Ventures for a wide array of reasons, but the most prevalent one being the rationality of the decision. The mobile gaming industry is expected to more than double in the coming two years alone, and Selenium Ventures is currently one of the largest firms in its space. Due to the current oligopoly in the mobile gaming industry, Handango’s stake in Selenium Ventures allows Handango to focus on creating the applications in our pipeline and updating the ones that we have already released without diverting our focus. Entering a new space would require research and development and recruitment of talented software engineers among the other barriers to entry in the mobile gaming space. Handango believes that our stake in Selenium Ventures will allow for our investors and our company to have a vested interest in the fast-growing industry without diverting our focus from our current flagship products and services.

While able to acquire the company in its entirety, Handango has decided against doing so for the reasons listed above. Handango management is not disrupting company operations and is keeping the same CEO, board of directors, and other talented staff. Unlike other acquisitions, Handango does not view this one as a turnaround of a failing company, rather, interest in a fast-growing, dominant company. We thank the board of directors and investors in both Handango and Selenium Ventures for approving the purchase and look forward to future developments with the Selenium team.

Discontinuation of VenueGo

Handango has been the leading provider of mobile software for everything from Android to Symbian OS since 1999. In that time, we have amassed a large market share in the mobile application space and our applications have been downloaded by tens of millions of individual users. In a market report in 2014, more than 30% of mobile phones contained at least one (1) Handango Go application. Handango has been the largest provider of mobile applications, and in 2015 we were approached by a publicly traded software company to develop VenueGo, a venue management software.

When our team heard of the idea, our board and shareholders were ecstatic. Generally, mobile applications are one-off payments, and while the Handango app marketplace was generating several million dollars annually through this approach, a recurring revenue model, as well as market share in the rapidly growing SaaS industry, was of great interest. In May of 2015, the Handango developers put on their thinking caps and built the first prototype of VenueGo in only 4 months.

VenueGo entered beta testing in September of 2015 and remained in that stage for 12 months. In September of 2016, GoPlan had a private launch to a small portion of our customer base that expressed purchase intent in the beta. Around the same time, Handango had technical troubles, citing datacenter outages leading to service downtime and minor data loss, natural disasters in our Philippines support office, among other complications that led to a pause of development in our software and reduction of our workforce.

While our mobile app marketplace and other applications were able to survive due to their self-sufficient nature, VenueGo required continued maintenance, bug fixes, and development of new features. We regret to inform all customers that VenueGo will be discontinued as of April 30th, 2017 11:59 PM EST. All customers will be issued a prorated refund on the remaining time left on their subscription.

The current customer base has been notified and we are actively working with Gather to port all VenueGo data to their platform and provide previous VenueGo customers with 3 months of Gather, paid for by the Handango team. We recommend all current customers to use Gather as their new venue management software. While we regret to announce the discontinuation and termination of the VenueGo service, we end the service knowing that the team at Gather will tend to Handango’s VenueGo customers better than we could have ourselves.

Handango: A History

Handango has changed over the years, but our core business values haven’t. Below is a third party excerpt that we believe brings to light what Handango was, is, and will be in the future. When you think Handango, think innovation, variety, and unparalleled customer support.

Handango was one of the first online software stores to sell mobile apps for personal digital assistants and smartphones. Handango offered worldwide distribution, support, and e-commerce services to its partners. Company’s customers include consumers, software developers, mobile operators, and original equipment manufacturers. Supported mobile devices include Android devices, Palm handhelds, Windows Mobile devices, Symbian OS devices, and BlackBerry devices.

Handango was founded in 1999 by Randy Eisenman. Early founding employees of the company included Eric Matzinger, James Lowe, Andrew Blake, Gabe Bass, Will Pinnell, Rusty Butler, Lindsay Rall, Laura Rippy, Jason Wells, Dustin Brown and Bob Weber. Handango was a pioneer of mobile software distribution and is widely credited with many “firsts” in the distribution of mobile apps including a self-service developer management and reporting portal, the business model of a 70/30 developer revenue split, over-the-air distribution of software with palm, the industry’s first digital rights management deployed with Nokia, and the Handango Commerce Engine that facilitated ecommerce on behalf of the software developer directly from their Web site.

Handango InHand, available since 2003 for Symbian UIQ, since 2004 for Windows Mobile and Palm OS, since 2005 for Blackberry and since 2006 for Symbian S60, is an on-device application store for finding, installing and buying software for your mobile device. Application download and purchasing are completed directly on the device so sync with a computer is not necessary. Description, rating and screenshot are available for any application. Software for using Handango InHand is available for free for Palm OS, Windows Mobile, Symbian UIQ & S60, Blackberry, Android. Handango pionereed this on-air business model for smartphones which achieved great success some years later with similar Apple Inc.’s App Store and Google’s Android Market.

On February 23, 2010, Jud Bowman of Motricity, a Durham, North Carolina supplier of software and games for mobile phones, acquired Handango, making PocketGear third behind Apple Inc. and Google in the app market. While PocketGear remained in Durham, the company kept the Handango offices in the Dallas, Texas area. PocketGear.com, LLC was started in 1998 by Nathan Miller as a teenager, and was later acquired by Motricity. Bowman bought back the smart phone application business in 2008 when Motricity moved from Durham to the Seattle area. Bowman remained a Motricity investor.