In the 25th episode of The 2pt5 innovator podcast my guest is David Perry. We are talking about his motivations, his photography, his development in game design from a simple game to cloud gaming. About the importance of branding and licensing, about Carro, his current venture, and his latest ideas and projects.
About David Perry
David Perry is a serial entrepreneur and game designer who has worked on a large number of successful video games and pioneered cloud gaming. He is currently the CEO of Carro, a two-sided partnership marketplace based. It is an innovative e-commerce platform designed to empower online retailers and suppliers by creating a seamless partnership marketplace. The platform addresses the critical needs of every brand—increasing sales and raising brand awareness.
“It’s you being overly optimistic. Like everything you think of -and this is one of my problems- I think of things and I can’t see why that would be a problem. You know what I mean? So then you’re sort of throwing that at other people going, “Well what’s the problem? Why don’t we do that?” And they’re like, “Oh, that’s a huge lift. Like it’s a huge amount of work. Oh my God, that’s gonna be so hard.” But that eternal optimism, I think, really helps. You think forward and think big thoughts because you don’t really see why that would be a problem.“David Perry
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Connect & find out more
- David Perry Wikipedia
- David Perry Twitter
- David Perry’s Website
- David Perry Photography
- David Perry Instagram
- David Perry Linkedin
- David Perry TED
Mentioned in the episode & additional
- David Perry Carro website and intro
- Hasselblad cameras
- The Matrix, movie
- Peter Hurley, photographer
- Dani Diamond photography
- Mamiya, medium format cameras
- Earthworm Jim, game
- Shigeru Miyamoto Wikipedia
- David Brayben Wikipedia
- Hideo Kojima Wikipedia
- Will Wright Wikipedia
- The Sims, video game
- Cloud gaming Wikipedia, Gaikai/Sony
- Electronic Arts
- VR Virtual Reality Wikipedia
- Beat Saber, game
- Sony Cloud Gaming, Playstation Now, Playstation Plus
- Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, game
- James Cameron Terminator, game
- Alladin game, Jeffrey Katzenberg Disney
- Free-to-play concept Wikipedia
- Carro https://www.getcarro.com/
- Whole Foods, Wikipedia
- Esports Wikipedia
- Pickleball Wikipedia
- The Kitchen – Pickleball community & Carro shop
- Paris Hilton and Paypal Ventures as investors
And now what?
Check out David’s Wikipedia and his latest venture, Carro.
This transcript was manually created.
David Perry: It’s you being overly optimistic. Like everything you think of -and this is one of my problems- I think of things and I can’t see why that would be a problem. You know what I mean? So then you’re sort of throwing that at other people going, “Well what’s the problem? Why don’t we do that?” And they’re like, “Oh, that’s a huge lift. Like it’s a huge amount of work. Oh my God, that’s gonna be so hard.” But that eternal optimism, I think, really helps. You think forward and think big thoughts because you don’t really see why that would be a problem.
Klaus Reichert: Welcome to The 2pt5- Conversations Connecting Innovators. My name is Klaus. I’m an innovation coach in Baden-Württemberg in the southwest of Germany. Innovators and creators from around the globe help each other by sharing highs and lows, their motivation and creative passions, as well as their favourite methods, tools, and ideas. The name of the podcast comes from the 2.5% Innovators from Roger’s Diffusion of Innovation Theory. Find more details, all the episodes and transcripts at www.the2pt5.net. Enjoy the show.
My guest in this episode is David Perry. David is a serial entrepreneur. He started his career as a game designer and has worked on many well-known and successful games and technologies such as cloud gaming. His latest company, Carro, is a genius idea based on the Shopify technology to bring brands together and allow them selling via cross store partnerships.
Klaus Reichert: Welcome to the podcast, David.
David Perry: Hey, thanks for inviting me.
Klaus Reichert: I’m really glad that we have this conversation today. Thank you very much for taking the time for this. David, we wanted to talk about your entrepreneurial journey, let’s put it that way. There is lots to talk about. You have done lots and tons of stuff, but I wanted to start with a very easy thing. When did you start doing photography?
David Perry: Oh, photography. That’s an interesting one. My father was a photographer and he was… it was just something he loved doing, and he did it professionally. And so for me, I sort of felt bad that, through his life, I never asked him to teach me photography. And so what happened was at one point I realized that I really needed to learn this skill. And so I asked him, “If I could buy the best camera in the world, what would it be?” And he said, “Well, when they went to the moon, they took a Hasselblad with them.” [Klaus laughs] And so I went out and they bought a Hasselblad camera and actually realized that just buying a really good camera immediately improves your photography because you’ve got a, you know, a high quality camera, great lens, etcetera. And so I then, found out that there’s people all over the world that are willing to teach you if you can just get in a room with them and so I found all these different photographers that I really liked and, for some reason, they’re very good and, you know, in headshot or portraits or whatever they do. And I found myself in a room with all of them. One by one, Cannon would fly them out to California to do a presentation and I would be in the room and then they would have some special intensive course, and I would go take it. And I realized that you can get these people that have learned something for 30 years, and they’re willing to share what they’ve learned in a very short period of time, usually in one or two days. And the result of that is like, you know, in the movie The Matrix, where he’s like, “I wanna fly a helicopter” and they just download the information into him and suddenly he can fly a helicopter? I feel you can do that with subjects like photography. You don’t have to have spent the 30 years. They can tell you what they’ve learned and you can pull that from each individual, person, and you start to build an understanding of photography. And so for me, it’s been absolutely fascinating. I’ve learned… it’s like drinking through a fire hose when you spend time with these people. And so the net result is I’m at a point now -there’s only a few more that I want to get time with- but I think I understand it. My biggest problem is getting time to actually do the photography and, you know, because a lot of it… I like shooting people by the way, versus landscapes or something like that. So I like trying to capture people. And it’s like a video game to me. So I can get a picture of you that you feel is the best picture of you, so that you want to use it in social media, etcetera. And so when I see someone replacing their icons everywhere with my picture, that makes me really happy. That’s like… I don’t charge for photography, just to be clear. It’s just a hobby. But when I get that to happen, it feels really good. I think I started in around… around 2004 would be when I got going, and I’ve got my own studio now. I’ve got ridiculously cool lighting in everything you could possibly imagine for taking pictures of people.
Klaus Reichert: So you’re taking it really serious on the one side. You kind of geeked out, probably, on the tech side, but you like the emotional, the people side, the human side of photography as well.
David Perry: Yeah. What you realize is people tense up a lot when they get in front of a camera. And so partly it’s helping them realize that they can do it and they can look good on camera. And once they start to see it, you can see the unlock in their brain and they start unlocking. And there’s some great tips. There’s a photographer in New York, Peter Hurley -he’s sort of respected as being one of the best, or maybe the best headshot photographer that’s out there- and he discovered that if you have somebody laugh, their whole face lights up. But nobody wants a headshot of them laughing really for business, for example, so what you do is you get them to laugh and then the moment after the laugh is when you take the picture, because their face is still… their eyes are still lit. There’s energy in their face that’s not normally there. It’s normally like… you know, if they just go back to normal, it’s their normal sort of regular face. And so, all kinds of interesting stuff like that. So that means that to some extent you have to make people laugh on command and that becomes an interesting challenge, you know, as some person you’ve never met before, you have to goof around with them and sort of have fun, be the life and soul while this shooting is going on. So, you know, what is that? Because some people think it’s just about learning, you know, iso and shutter speeds and things like that, but no. There’s definitely more to it. So yeah, I enjoy the nerdy pieces. I enjoy the Photoshop. I have AI retouching. So I’m the one that’s embracing all the very latest technologies, like the second they come out, I’ve already got it.
Klaus Reichert: [laughs] Well, what a surprise!
David Perry: Or I’m in the Beta for it before it comes out. A lot of photographers disagree with all that. They think that’s terrible, it’s awful, it’s ruining the industry, but it’s not. It’s just using the tools that are available. It’s funny because when you look at old film photography, they actually did their own retouching in the darkroom, so you can see where they edit and brightened and then change pictures in the darkroom. So in reality, you know, picture manipulation has always been a piece of the art. But some people don’t want to learn the modern software. I do. And so I think it’s just a fascinating space and I love that now our cell phones are getting so smart. So it’s an interesting idea that in the past we used to make cameras, all the same way, like every company was basically making the same thing with slight variations. But now with software, you’re gonna see more and more machine learning and intelligence built into the camera. So the camera is becoming a really… I heard recently Apple has like 800 people working on their camera. It’s definitely a very important piece of mobile phones. And I think the pictures it starts to take, actually, are gonna end up becoming really hard to take on a normal camera. So the normal cameras are gonna have to like… the DSLRs are gonna have to start stepping up their game to just keep up with the innovation that’s going into the cell phones. So it’s gonna get very interesting. I enjoy watching all of it.
Klaus Reichert: Sometimes I’m bit sad about that these changes happen only over year after year after year and not faster because it’s just… there’s a new iPhone model that has the latest cameras equipment, right? So, but I’m very much with you. I have looked a lot into different cameras, also, for the podcast, for example, and for doing video coachings, and stuff like that, but I’m using my iPhone and I really like that easy portability that you can use it for basically everything and it still does great pictures will maybe limited in a way, also, but more limited by my own abilities as a photographer,
David Perry: I don’t know. You should take some of these classes. You’ll absolutely love it once you spend some time with people that impress you. So find a photographer where you’re, like, their pictures are amazing and then see if they offer any kind of educational content that you can absorb. It’s great because the minute you find your pictures starting to… there was one… I’m trying to remember his name now… um… it’ll come to me, but there was one course I took and just this one course on the other side and my pictures just immediately got better. And that kind of idea that you can… just one single class –in fact it was an online class I took- and I just fundamentally made my stuff better. Use the internet, learn from everyone you can, in whatever subject you’re in. So when we talk about photography, I did the same thing with woodworking. Exact same thing. I have a full woodworking shop with… I’ve spent my time with master woodworkers, to learn from them and try to absorb as much information. That one is a little more time consuming because it’s just making a table can take four or five days and so it’s a little more time consuming. So these days I haven’t had the time to really lean into that. But in the past I certainly did. And yeah, again, you know, you’ll be at a conference and there’ll be some guy giving a lecture about varnishes and that sounds terribly boring when you think about it. But he’ll be giving a lecture on varnishes and he’s done it for 30 years and then he sums it up and says, “This is the best varnish.” The value to you, as a woodworker, for someone else to just give you that information, to me is incredible. So, of course I rush off and buy that varnish and guess what? It’s great. That’s kind of… that sharing… I think the video game industry’s really good at that, too. If at the game developer’s conference, you know, there’s a lot of sharing going on and so if you’re new to the industry, some of the things that get said to you, that might seem that, you know, a professional might take for granted, but for someone new it’s like, “Oh, my God!” That’s the most interesting way to think about things or, you know, they can learn really quickly.
Klaus Reichert: Absolutely. I mean, sharing is one of these essential things that makes you richer, in a way, basically, it doesn’t cost you anything, right? Sharing knowledge and learning from others is such an important thing of being a person, I think.
David Perry: Yeah. The name just came to me. It’s Danny Diamond. So that was a photography course I took online. It teaches you everything from photography through to retouching in Photoshop. And so it’s like a stair step for me when you get someone like that who’s a professional that really… It’s D-A-N-N-Y Diamond.
Klaus Reichert: We’ll include the link in the show notes so people can look at his courses. So you’re a big learner. You have the courage to start something and then you understand that you need to learn something. And at some point of time you understand that you have gotten to a certain place and you understand how things work. Coming quickly back to the photography thing, do you remember the first picture you were actually pleased with? How long did it take you from starting to getting to that point?
David Perry: I had a daughter, a new born daughter, and so I was taking pictures of her. And the pictures were looking much better than anything I had done before, because again, I had a Hasselblad camera, which is a great camera, but I actually started to realize the weaknesses, like the Hasselblad every time… as she got a little older when she would be like running along the camera couldn’t keep up. It was very slow to take a picture. And so I was missing shots. I’d see something really cute and I would try to take the shot and it would be gone, and I’d be like, “Oh, I missed that moment” and I missed the moment a lot. And then you start getting opinions, “well, maybe this isn’t the right camera for me. Maybe there’s a better camera.” And so that’s when you start going down that trail of maybe there’s a better way to go about this. And, you know, then you can start capturing what you want to capture.
Klaus Reichert: I’ve used one of these Mamiya middle format cameras with a six by six centimetre negative and it’s great for stills or for architecture and stuff like that because you can do the composition easily. You hold it in a different way, this camera, and that makes it easy to do a composition, right. But if people are moving, it’s just horrible because it’s so big and clunky and it takes… it’s just heavy, for example.
David Perry: What you find… in one of my classes, they said to me that if you ever look at the camera, that’s bad because you actually need to maintain the relationship with the model. So the person who’s about to get the picture taken needs your full attention. So if you are constantly -they call it gimping- if you’re constantly looking at your camera and tweaking settings, that’s distracting to them because in a way you’re distracting them by it. So the trick is to find a camera that you’re gonna use for many years and learn it so that you know where all the buttons and knobs are. And so if you need to change a setting, it just happens. So a really good photographer is literally changing settings on the fly without ever… you never see them having to sort of, “what does that button do again?” or “where is that button?” or “where is that menu option?” They don’t do that. The camera just adjusts and they continue taking pictures. That’s why it’s important to sort of find, you know, what you’re gonna commit to and learn it. I’ve made the mistake of buying five different models of camera and now, and they’re all completely different and it’s a mess.
Klaus Reichert: [laughs] Well, you need to take another course for this, “reducing complexity with the cameras,” for example.
David Perry: Yep.
Klaus Reichert: Maybe a new thing you can do in the future as another project, as another company. Looking at your entrepreneurial journey, it starts with creativity. What I read is that, as a teenager, you started out with the design of a game, possibly without having a computer yourself. What was that? What drove you to design a game as a young person with, maybe, 14-15 years old?
David Perry: What happened is when I was young, video games were actually published in magazines and so you would buy the magazine and then type in the game and then play it. And so if you can imagine a very basic game, you could type in quite quickly and play it, but some of them would be quite advanced and it would take hours and hours and hours of typing. And what are the odds of you typing all that in without a mistake? It’s nearly zero. So there’s gonna be mistakes in there. And so what you do is after you’ve typed lots of games in, you start to recognize things. So you’ll see it says “lives equals three,” and you’re like, “Hmm, I wonder if I change that to, like, 10. Do I get 10 lives?” And yes, you do. And so you start going, “Well, hold on a minute. What else is in here?” And you start playing with the code, like, “I wanna move a little faster. How can I move faster?” And you sort of… that’s how I got started. And once you have very rudimentary sort of programming skills, then you start to think, “well, I could do a very simple game” where there’s just a blob that does… you know, one of the first I did was a little zombies game where, you know, just zombies hone in on you and your job is just to try to avoid them and get them to fall into pits. And so it can be the most simple game idea ever but when you’re coding it, it’s really quite fun. It’s like a puzzle and you’re trying to solve it yourself. “Can I get this to work?” And once you get it working, that’s quite addictive. I didn’t know that you could be paid to do this. And so once I started to get paid, I couldn’t believe that you would be paid to make games. This is the craziest idea ever. And so, I just went all in at that point. I was just making games as fast as I could. And then the way you learned in those days, there was no online, there was no, you know, downloadable courses or anything. There was no -in my city- teaching. I would argue, even in Ireland, because I was in Northern Ireland at the time, teaching how to program video games, so the only way to learn was through books. And I think that was the thing that I valued the most, as there were some individuals out there that I was never gonna meet, but those people put down what they learned and shared it with everybody else. So that was how you would drink through a fire hose in those days. You would suddenly learn things that would be a huge unlock to your game. So if you think about speaking a language, the more words you know, the more fluent you become. It’s the same with programming. The more you learn, the more fluent you become and the more ideas you can execute. And so at some point when you’re totally, you know, fluent at a certain programming language, then anyone could ask for anything and you can just start coding.
Like you can literally, “I want a football game.” “Okay, let’s go.” “I want a basketball game.” “Let’s go.” because you know how you would go about it. But when you’re at the very beginning and you can… moving blobs around on a screen is quite challenging, that’s really the path. So it’s a learning path, but I think it’s important. I like working with people that have some background where they’ve at least tried coding, because it gives them a slightly different perspective on how everything works. When you work with people that, like, everything is a mystery to them, like they’re…you know, they look at everything as complex and they don’t want to know anything more about it. I find it more fun to work with people that have looked under the hood and understand how things work and can converse with engineers and so. What actually happens, and what I’ve found in my career is, that obviously helps you communicate with programmers if you know what a program is and how it works. But the same thing… then, if you want to talk to your animators, are you willing to learn how animation works? Like, are you willing to actually spend time watching the training or learning about how animation, television animation, works or video game animation? Are you willing to do that, too? Because your rapport with your animators will go up exponentially based upon your interest in what they do. And a lot of people just go, “Well, I’m not an animator so I don’t know anything about it.” Well, that doesn’t stop you learning something about it, because if you do, you’re gonna have a much better time with your animators. And then you go, “Well, what about audio?” Same thing. And so you can imagine, in every dimension, having an interest in it helps greatly create a rapport with the people that actually do that work. That was something that I found valuable in my career because I was genuinely interested in every single piece of the puzzle. I was thinking about that recently because if I go to a conference and I’m on stage and they put the microphones on me, I’m the one that’s wondering “Which microphones are they using? Why..? How the soundboard works,” you know…
Klaus Reichert: [laughs] Yes.
David Perry: I’m literally interested in how that individual does their job. And so, even in this conversation, I’m using an SMB, the Shure microphone. I have a Rode… you know, they have their podcasts. It’s called the Rodecaster Pro. I have a Cloudlifter, which does the microphone balancing. But basically, again, why do I do that? Do I do podcasts? No, I don’t, but I just am interested. I don’t want to not understand how it all works. And so for me, that’s really been very helpful in my career and I’d highly advise, you know, when you get the opportunity to learn something, even if it’s a little out of band for what you need, I think you should just go ahead and learn as much as you can about it.
Klaus Reichert: At some point of time it will sort of backfire and will help you that you have learned all these things.
David Perry: Yeah. You’re gonna meet somebody and that’s very important in their life, whatever it is that they do, and the fact that you understand it, I think is really fun.
Klaus Reichert: You were born and you grew up in Ireland at a time where it was basically not normal to have a computer, where video games were just starting, very simply. So what did you bring when you went from Ireland to London? What was that thing that you sort of brought along? You just talked about that you were interested in things, you were learning things, you were looking into, maybe questioning some things and sort of adding, too, to stuff that you read. But what was the main thing that you brought from Ireland to London where you had your, sort of, next career step?
David Perry: Well, imagine you’re in Ireland, and you’re coding games, and you get your first publishing deal, like a professional publishing deal from a company in England, and you’re still in high school. And you think you know what you’re doing. Like there was no one ever to say to me, “He’s not very good at this, really.” [laughter] Like, you know, “I know you think you’ve got this, but on a scale of one to 10, you’re about a 3.” There was no one to say that to me. So I think I’m a 10, I go to England and I realize I’m a 3, or maybe even a 2, because I’m put in a room with other people who are experts. And so, what do you do when you get into that situation? Because I realized, “Oh my God, they’re gonna work out then I’m a 3 and they’re gonna just send me back to Ireland.” And so I had to learn so fast. And the people there were very cool, so they were willing to, you know, work with me. I got to see their code and seeing their code, I sort of learned how a real video game gets made, like a professional video game, not what I thought a video game would be made like. And so I learned so quickly and I survived. So if you can imagine plotting a graph of my video game education, it was all in real time. But I was looking through other people’s code and they basically, I mean, to be honest, I think they realized that the guy in charge was really smart. And I think he looked at me going, “Hmm, you know, what I’m gonna have him do is I’m gonna give him the code from another game and then have him convert that to another platform.” So I took a Sinclair Spectrum game called Pajamarama, and I had to move that over to the Amstrad computer. And so the idea of making me look through that code top to bottom and get it working on another device I thought was a really great move, because by the end of it, obviously I knew how a professional game is really made and they didn’t send me home, thankfully, and I kept working in England, so that worked out very well.
Klaus Reichert: So it was lots of learning. Did you think that was rather stressful or was that -I don’t know the right word- exciting?
David Perry: For me the most exciting thing in education is the “aha” moment. It’s the moment you realize something that matters. There’s a lot of mundane stuff too, but whenever… there’s been moments, I’m certain, you’ve had where you’re like, “Oh, that’s interesting. I get it now.” And that “aha” moment I think is the most valuable thing in education because it’s usually some kind of unlock for you, like you just… you know, in a video game you go plus one in something, it’s like you just went plus one in that thing, like you just levelled up. You’re better at that now. And so I think that’s the drug, is that you feel the growth and it sort of changes your perspective on how things work. So for me, that’s what I was getting from those people, lots of unlocks really rapidly, lots of “aha” moments. I honestly wish education today incorporated more “aha” moments for kids. The simple definition would be how many “aha” moments can you give a kid where it’s like, “Oh I didn’t know. Now I get it.” Right? There’s a huge unlock there. And then how rapidly can you make those “aha” moments happen? Like how can you compress the downtime between them? Is that once a week they go, “Oh wow, I get it” or can you get that once a day or once an hour? That would be really interesting.
Klaus Reichert: Mm.
David Perry: See how that would change education? Because it’s really thrilling. People like learning, they just hate the mundane, you know? If it’s once a month that you could get an “aha” moment, that’s torture.
Klaus Reichert: It’s not enough, right. Yeah. I’m also right now thinking about doing a course about some innovation management basics and initially I thought about doing a long course and explained everything, but I sort of ended up doing something that is really, really quick that sort of gets you to, maybe not “aha” moments, but gets you to something in a very short time and doesn’t want to teach everything but sort of progress you, quickly. And I think that’s the better way to do because then people are more involved.
David Perry: That’s the value you add, is you curate. So imagine there’s a business book that’s 200 pages long…
Klaus Reichert: Right.
David Perry: …and it’s got one idea there. I would say the vast majority of business books have one idea that’s a real “aha” moment. Legitimately it was worth writing the book for, but it’s not worth typing 200 pages for. And so, you know, a lot of those books get condensed down to 15 minutes and they still have that “aha” moment in them. And so if you’re curating them, you get to pick and choose, you know, you can go through and collect up all these really, really interesting… that’s definitely very interesting. That’s a very clever idea. You can then download this into other people and have them think, you know, their time spent with you is worth its weight in gold because you’re respecting their time. But you’re absolutely right. There’s all kinds of courses that they think that you buy by the pound, like they think that if they sell you 80 hours of a course to learn Photoshop, you know that’s a good thing and they want to make it 150 hours. It’s like, I have no interest in spending 150 hours on this. Can you please, you know, show me the key things that I need to know and condense the time, find ways to explain it, in the least amount of time? And you’ll find that in this world that we’re heading towards, people are getting way, way more impatient. And they need… I mean, look at TikTok. I mean, I don’t know if you’re spending time with any teenagers on TikTok, but when you watch them, they have no patience at all. [laughter] It’s like, get to… it’s not… it’s… oops… it’s not interesting enough already… and they just immediately move on to another thing. So it’s kind of fun.
Klaus Reichert: Yeah. That’s kind of the thing where these business books still need to change because in order to get taken serious, you have to write the 200 pages book, even though you know that most of the people won’t read more than the first 45 pages.
David Perry: I was in my car recently driving to Los Angeles, and it takes over an hour to get there. So I fired up a new audio book. The guy spent the entire hour telling me about what he was gonna tell me. He never got to… never said a single thing. I couldn’t believe it. I was actually… I got to Los Angeles and I parked my car and said, “I learned nothing from that book. Like, nothing.” It was just a guy talking about, you know, “this is gonna change your life when you hear this thing that I’m gonna tell you about. It’s so important. It’s critical to the future, you know, it’s the future of marketing,” whatever it is. And it just never stopped the talk, and no “aha” moments, no learning. To me, it’s infuriating when they do that. So, yeah, don’t do that. Be the guy that doesn’t, and you’ll just fly past all of those people. It just, you know, wastes people’s time.
Klaus Reichert: Good, good advice. Save time. David, when you left London for LA, what was it that you brought from London to LA? What was it… what you basically had learned in this time in London that sort of brought you ahead, what was the big leap that you took?
David Perry: I think there was two things occurred to me. One was, in moving to the United States, it was like a reset. I had got to a point where I think I could make any video game. And so, if you can imagine on a sort of a programming level, or a game making level, I felt like the unlock had happened, so now “let’s go” like, “it’s showtime now.” It’s like you’ve done all your acting lessons, now put me in a movie. You know, like, “let’s go.” And I get to America. I had my own game engine that I had created for making games and it had some, what I thought were quite straightforward ideas, but turned out to be good ideas because they were so flexible. And so what I realized is the game engine I’d made was unbelievably flexible. I could make, you know, like in a game like Earthworm Jim, there were all these different levels. We could have anything happen in the game and, and this engine could handle it. So you’re riding on hamsters or you’re underwater in a submarine, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you want, this engine can handle it. And so the very first version of where that was going was when I arrived in America, because I had been sort of building it the way I thought it needed to be. And so, as I continued to make games in the US, that engine got more and more potent, as time went on. But, I arrived in the US feeling pretty confident that, you know, we were gonna do something good. The thing I didn’t realize is I was gonna get surrounded by really talented people. I had one friend in the UK that I had worked with, his name was Nick Rudy, and he was just by far the best artist I’d ever worked with, and so for me to move to America without Nick was dangerous, right? So now I’m heading off into this new opportunity, which is pretty exciting to go off to California. It was short term, so it was only for one project, but when I arrived in California, the people that were there were actually really good, and then they said to me, you know, “Is there anyone you’d like to bring from the UK?” and of course I said, “Well, we gotta get Nick.” And they ended up bringing Nick out. Ultimately, the team in the US got very potent and very strong and so that’s what ultimately kept me from ever wanting to go back to the UK, because I was surrounded by really talented people and the games we made kept winning awards. So, you know, we got Game of the Year, Best Graphics of the Year, Best Audio of the Year. We just kept winning awards and because of that, you know, we got even tighter. And so I was very lucky by the people I ended up getting to meet and work with.
Klaus Reichert: But that was also a time when you turned from being the coder to being the business guy in a way, right? Where you became an entrepreneur.
David Perry: No, I look at it a little different. I think of it as… the video game industry used to be like the music industry. There used to be somebody who would do the interviews and you know, like in a band, there’s the lead singer stands at the front of the stage and the lead singer ends up being the one getting interviewed, more than the rest of the band. That was just the structure of video game teams. So Miyamoto or Kojima or David Braben, any of these people, it was because there was someone on the team that usually ended up doing the most interviews or getting seen in magazines, giving more speeches, whatever it was. And it’s very interesting how that’s kind of changed in the game industry. There’s a lot less, you know, Will Wright in charge of The Sims. There’s usually like this figurehead person that would lead the fray. And so I found myself in that position where I was getting a lot of press. So I was one of the last, I would say, of that period, where, you know, Peter Molino and all these famous people that the video game press would circle around. Nowadays it seems to be much more focused on just the game license or the game property, and a lot of gamers have absolutely no idea who made that game, who’s involved, or… you know, they don’t really know how to follow them and see what else they make in their career. That’s kind of been, for me, that’s a bit of a change from the way it used to be, you know, back in the nineties.
Klaus Reichert: You started your own company, so that normally involves that you have to do more things, other things also. And then you have to share your time with all these things, or that your time is shared among all these things. So was that another thing that you really had to learn and wanted to learn about, say, hiring or doing contracts or doing marketing stuff, licensing?
David Perry: Well, in my career, I’ve always felt like we have an idea, “We’re gonna go do this thing” and I’ve never thought, “Are we capable of doing that thing?” So, you know, hiring and licensing and everything else, you just do it. You don’t say, “Well, I don’t know how to do that, so therefore we’re not gonna do that.” You just start executing and you start, you know, if licensing is necessary, you solve that problem. And that’s generally how I rolled… in my career I was always… by no means was I great at running companies, and when I started I’d actually zero experience, but you learn on your feet as you’re dealing with it, you know, with taxes or employment or contracts or whatever, and the reality is that’s actually okay. When I got into cloud gaming, I didn’t know anything about the cloud. I had never built a server. I’d never been in a server farm putting, you know, servers in racks. I’d never done that before. Does that mean you don’t, or you shouldn’t, because you don’t have experience? No. I built the first server on my dining room table. I drove to Los Angeles and pushed it into a rack and turned it on and left, right? [Klaus laughs] I didn’t know anything about data centres, so I called the companies in Wikipedia that had big data networks in the US. Most of them didn’t reply, but one of them did. And I had a really great conversation and the net result was them saying, “We wanna work with you.” So suddenly you’ve got data centres available to you. And so I guess that’s the point is, what…? I mean, you can understand why in a lot of cases it’s very easy to talk yourself out of something, but it’s much more fun when you talk yourself into something and just, you know, start executing and you’ll find yourself… at some point you’ll have solved the problem and you… it’s even hard to think about how you got there, because the path just took you there.
Klaus Reichert: I think we need to go back to that for a moment. Because you started in games design. You learned coding from magazines, because you liked to type your own games. You learned a lot about programming, doing the programming. You came to the US. You developed lots of games, along with other people. You got to different levels in your game. You started a game development company. And at some point of time you did some consulting work. You did investing. And so there is a long way from designing, also, to the cloud gaming. But it sort of becomes apparent when you see all these different steps that you worked on: the public game, industry map, for example, that was sort of giving you also an idea what the game industry was about because you could visualize it. So there was a few years that sort of formed you from the game designer and game entrepreneur to the cloud gaming person.
David Perry: Yeah. No, the in between is really all just learning about those different things that I found interesting again. So, I had never built a website, and it kind of infuriated me that I didn’t fully understand how that all worked. I just hired help that could work on the game industry map, for example. The concept was that if you wanted to work in the game industry, there could have been a game company down the street from you and you’d never know it, because they’re usually in some warehouse somewhere. So what if we had a map that let you search by location, so you could see, you know, here there’s all these little development studios in my neighbourhood that I didn’t even know existed. That was the thought. And so, I worked on that for a while, just building that database and sort of getting that going. In reality that wasn’t something that I had the bandwidth to really run long term because it’s never ending stuff you have to do. But it was fascinating because I stood it up and it was graphically very cool and it had the full data set of all the developers at that time and including… it started to expand into, well, what if you wanna work at GameStop or some other game related thing. It started to expand into that as well. There was another person who had built one and his was a little more simple, but also very, very useful because you could search, you could see visually where things were. And so in the end I was like, “look, there’s already one of these existing and it’s doing the job just fine, so I’m not gonna continue with this.” But it was just interesting to build a website, you know, when you haven’t ever done it. So it’s just another box to check at some point.
Klaus Reichert: I know the feeling. In 1998, I started my own search engine and I soon found out that Google is doing a much better job. So, well. So you had a really good idea of the gaming industry. You knew where people were. You knew about how it’s produced, how it’s marketed and stuff like that. And then we get into these changes, technology-wise, with the cloud, which is a normal thing to talk about. But in 2004, 2005, 2010, it was just something very special. It didn’t really exist for many people as a thing. So to be doing cloud gaming, which is actually where we originally met also, is something really special. So what brought you to that, to cloud gaming?
David Perry: I am normally constantly trying to work out what’s next and where things are going, and to me this idea of everyone having to rebuy consoles and having to buy physical games when the rest of the world was moving towards streaming. I once was looking at a cell phone and I said, someday, you will be able to play every song ever recorded on this device like that. That seemed at the time crazy because, you know, that phone could probably have held 20 songs or 50 songs or something like that, because there’s very little memory in it. But if you think about the future, at some point it’s gonna get solved. So the thought was, is that really gonna be something that stops video games spreading or will video games be everywhere? And so then you keep simplifying your idea, well, if I can have every video game, where would I want them? Well, across all my devices, everywhere I go. So our tagline at the time was everything, everywhere, instantly, was what we were trying to work towards. And that means every video game ever made on every device instantaneously. So then you say to yourself, well, “how would you do that?” That’s not gonna be… you can’t do that with hardware. You have to do that some other way. And so the concept was, well, it’s gonna have to be from the internet and it’s gonna have to be incredibly high performance, like higher performance than anything today. Then you start looking for talent, and one of the secret tricks to finding killer talent is to find, whatever the subject is you’re interested in, find open source libraries for that subject and you’ll find, if you do that, there’s some guy who’s the biggest contributor to that library, probably a Jedi in that thing that you’re trying to find out about. My point is, he or she could be anywhere in the world, and if you can find them, you can add incredibly talented people to your team. And so that really led us down this path of, “I know it’s not technically possible to do this with any kind of quality today, but what would it take when you put incredibly smart people on the job? One of the examples was, I was trying to raise money for cloud gaming and all these people went on record, like literally game programming directors went on record saying that this is the dumbest idea ever. It’ll never work. It’s actually technically impossible. And the reason it’s impossible is if I press a button here and that button has to travel to another city and then render the image and then send it back to me, there’s always going to be a delay there and therefore, this is the dumbest idea ever because who wants to play sloppy game experiences like that? And you can imagine our investors came to us saying, you know, “this isn’t looking good. This is a problem.” And at the time, the Chief Technology Officer at Electronic Arts went on record and said, “actually, you know, I believe that this is possible to get this to feel really good” and so that helped me immensely. That was the hugest unlock. Tim Wilson was the guy -sadly he’s not with us anymore- but Tim Wilson, he was a very important person, being the CTO of Electronic Arts, so people listened. And the result was, we found an incredibly interesting way to go about it. So if you think about a video game today, running on a console, what nobody thought that we would do is what would happen if you ran that game, twice as fast in the cloud as you do locally. So imagine it takes up this much time to run the game locally, but in the cloud it takes up this much time because I’m running it twice as fast. I’ve actually compressed time, so we have time left, so I can now transmit your key press through the internet, using the time that we’ve saved. And there was all kinds of other trickery that we were doing, by the way. But the net result was that the game would feel identical locally as it did from the cloud. And there were viewers at the time going, “What is this magic? This is impossible” because we had actually managed to demonstrate that. That’s one of those things that reminds you that there’s always a way, when you get really smart people working together and our compression algorithms and things were done differently from every compression algorithm at that point because we had the people who were able to just think differently with how you’d go about the steps of compressing. And so the result was you get an experience that seems impossible and that’s like the most fun ever to be working with those kind of people. You can understand why, right? Because you have all these super smart people and they are correct saying there’s no way this will ever work until you come up with a way for it to work and then everyone goes, “Hmm. Never thought of it like that.” And it’s like when VR came out, it made me feel nauseous. And so I immediately thought, “Hmm, this is not something that I think is going to be ultimately successful.” And I turned out to be wrong. And the reason I was wrong is because they designed games where you could stand still. And I didn’t… at the time that didn’t occur to me. What if you don’t put all the modern games on VR and instead you make games for VR, that you are just, you know, waving your arms around, like Beat Saber, I would argue is the best VR game. Because at the time we were automatically assuming you were gonna try to put Call of Duty into VR and it would be great if you could, but there’d be tons of people vomiting everywhere, if you’re doing it. So I guess that’s my point, is that for me, being on the ground where new ideas are happening is actually a really fun place to be, brainstorming with really smart people.
Klaus Reichert: You also need to allow people to think differently and sort of challenge people to move beyond what is possible today at some point of time. Is there a trick to do that? In such a case, if the technology doesn’t exist yet, if you have the vision of doing something in some other way because you believe that it could be done somehow, you sort of have to give yourself and the others the permission to do that extra thinking. You also have to sometimes maybe force them or at least incentivize them. Is there a trick to do that, so that they sort of move or think beyond what is possible?
David Perry: It’s incredibly annoying. It’s you being overly optimistic. Like everything you think of… and this is one of my problems, is I think of things and I can’t see why that would be a problem [Klaus laughs] because I can… you know what I mean? So then you’re sort of throwing that at other people going, “Well what’s the problem? Why don’t we do that?” And they’re like, “Oh, that’s a huge lift.” like “It’s a huge amount of work.” “Oh my God, that’s gonna be so hard.” But that eternal optimism, I think really helps you think forward and think big thoughts because you don’t really see why that would be a problem, if you get the point. And it doesn’t… and it also helps. The way I like to think about it is, I sometimes explain this as the idea of looking down at a track and saying… the analogy I use is, an industry is on a train, so the whole video game industry is on a train. And they’re going along and everyone’s very happy, they’re in the video game industry. There are some people who missed the train and they are chasing and trying to catch up, but they missed it. And then there’s some people who are trying to get ahead of the train and think, “where’s it going?” like “what’s the next station?” and they’re thinking about that. So the exercise, the mental exercise is to say, if something existed, how would you beat it? So, you know, name the game, name the experience, name the category, whatever it is. You can start asking yourself, “What could I do to beat it?” You keep exhausting that, “Okay, if we did that” “how would I beat that?” And if you keep asking yourself how you beat something until you can’t beat it anymore, you’re usually down the track a decent amount. And if you start heading there, it usually, what you’re building, starts to look more interesting than, more of currently…what’s being done. An example I used to give, -this is gonna sound weird- but in my speeches, I used to show a picture of… I saw in Popular… I think it was Popular Mechanics magazine, they had a whole set of chainsaws and they were all the same, like the chainsaw industry has given up. They’ve literally just… they’re all making the same exact device. They’re the same shape and size with the chain but the colours are different and the logo’s different, but they’re all making the same product. And I said in my speeches like, “God, I hope this never happens to the game industry. Wouldn’t this be terrible if games just become this repetitive?” And so then I showed screenshots of soccer games and screenshots of first person shooters. And then I would challenge the press to name the first person shooter. “Can you tell me what this screenshot is from?” And they couldn’t name the game. And I’m like, “well, in that case, we’re already starting to become the chainsaw industry.” And that’s very worrying, right? We don’t want you to be able to not tell the game because it looks like 50 other games that look the same, right? Whether it’s a tip of a gun in a warehouse with some crates in a refinery. And so, to me, I think that the opportunity for games, as we continue here, is so incredibly exciting. I had a LinkedIn message sent to me the other day. Somebody said… they had interviewed me like 23 years ago and I had talked about characters in the video game talking using AI and how important that’s gonna be, and they were kind of like, “You realize how long ago that was?” And it’s so scarily long ago that it’s taken this long to get to that point where it’s actually gonna be possible now. But you can see how even that idea is going to fundamentally add new experiences to games, having characters that are intelligent and understand what’s going on around them, meaning that in video games, you know, for the longest time there’s still video games like this. Today you can welcome into town, they’ll say, “Welcome to Town, traveller,” or you could kill everybody and they’ll still say, “Welcome to Town, traveller,” because the game doesn’t really know, and that non-player character just doesn’t really understand what’s going on. I think that’s all gonna change. And so video games to me is a bit like the Wild West. The opportunity space to keep looking down the track and inventing new things is always there. But you have to pay attention and be embracing technology as early as you possibly can so that you can think about the uses for it. In the games we used to make, we always looked for a hook. We always tried to find some new experience that you’d never seen before in a game. And that was usually exciting for us because it would give us something to hold onto. Like we did a game called MDK where you had a sniper rifle and you could shoot something a mile away, like you could shoot a robot in the eye a mile away. That was new at the time. And so the idea of giving you a new mechanic, to me, was a really fun piece of it as well. So, I guess the point is the video game space is just endlessly vast and the opportunity space is so big. And what I was getting worried about is it was starting to… there was a lot of repetition happening, where games were starting to get repetitive when they don’t need to. The space is so incredibly vast.
Klaus Reichert: Especially if you have like version one, version two, version three, like FIFAs, you get new versions every year or so. It’s the same with movies. The concept works, people like it, they want more and the industry delivers more products, right? And that way you sort of start something repetitive, possibly.
David Perry: Yeah.
Klaus Reichert: Yeah.
David Perry: Yeah.
Klaus Reichert: Guy Kai, the cloud gaming company we were just talking about was eventually sold to Sony and they incorporated the technology into the Sony Play Stations and at some point of time you left Guy Kai, you started something new. And before we get to that, I was wondering, what did you learn from the game design working in the game industry for business in general? I mean, we talked about a lot of things right now, I understand, but if you would sort of try to sum up that, the biggest lessons from the game industry for you in business.
David Perry: I started from the beginning with, you know, making simple games and then later I realized that branding was the secret, because when I was in England, I made the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, which was the British version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And it went straight to number one. And so I realized that branding in the video game industry is incredibly powerful. Later I made The Terminator, from James Cameron’s movie, Aladdin was with Jeffrey Katzenberg from Disney, and The Matrix, of course, with the Wachowskis and Warner Brothers. And every time I tried to make a game of my own, with my own… like I could call the game whatever I wanted, but it was very hard to get attention for it, but whenever we made something that was licensed, it would just automatically take off. We’d have a hit and my career would advance. So branding was one of the big secrets in the game industry, without a doubt. But the other thing that we found, we did this Earthworm Jim game, and we actually did it the other way around, so we were one of the first developers to license out. So we did a TV show, toy lines, Halloween masks. We ended up doing fast food meals, all kinds of stuff. All from this video game property. So learning how to license in and learning how to license out were both, I think, really fascinating aspects of the game industry that I got a taste of, got to see all kinds of very interesting things. But the DNA of the game industry is people want to be entertained and they want the entertainment level to be high. They don’t want long lulls between enjoyment. And so there was a moment in time, when games started, you used to try to get a high score, and then there was this pivot that happened, which was, “Who cares about scores?” We just wanna finish the game. So you got infinite lives, effectively, and you would… you know, a lot more people were finishing games. And then I got very interested in this idea of “free to play.” I went to China and Korea and I met with the game companies there and I started giving lectures in the US about how I felt that “free to play” was gonna be important in the future of the industry. But the thing that we learned from that was that people would pay to save time. And it turns out that’s the most… So, whenever you meet a game designer and they’ve got some “free to play” game, I just say to them, “I already know what your number one selling item is” and they’ll be like, “Okay, what is it?” And I go, “Whatever saves the most time”. Because the gamers work it out, like this is the thing that has the highest reward for their time. You know, all the other stuff doesn’t matter. That’s something to really think about in the… when you’re thinking about designing games is people… the willingness to pay is greatly related to what they can get in a condensed amount of the time that they have available, and the more you give them, the more they’re willing to pay. The other thing you learned from games is that, modern games, mobile games, things like that, the desire to pay to save time is so advanced now that you’ll get someone spending $10,000 on a mobile game and you… you know, if you had told me that 30 years ago, that someone would spend $10,000 to play some game on a phone, it would’ve sounded insane. You know, you can spend $100.000 on the game if you want. So you can see how that fundamentally changes how you think about designing those games. And there’s a danger because you get to a point where some game designers start designing friction into the game so that you have to buy it back out. And I think that’s where it gets a little problematic, when you’re making things hard just so you can buy out the difficulty, if you know what I mean. Like, it’s not the best use of a game designer’s time, because it’s just at that point, nothing but going from money.
Klaus Reichert: You could make it hard to have fun instead, right?
David Perry: Yeah. And so… but a really good game that’s well made, that’s entertaining, that if people wanna spend money they can, I don’t think is a problem, and so fascinating to see how people will pay to make progress and get on, with building something or doing something. It’s amazing. So the game industry, again, in every dimension is still just getting started in my opinion. And there’s so much to learn, there’s so many new things that come out of the woodwork, and as long as you sort of stay with the time, I think, the space is incredible.
Klaus Reichert: What I also find incredible is that it is possible to play a game together with somebody else, with many people around the globe you have never met, but you start to form groups -in certain games that’s possible to form groups- and do the tasks at hand or do whatever that the game is about. And so you bring people together that would have never met, basically, they spend some time together. Sometimes they may grow into a team or some sort of thing, but maybe not, and in the next game they would play with somebody else. So that’s also something very powerful I think.
David Perry: The idea of playing together, again, in the start of the industry, that wasn’t really a thing and it was more couch play, that is, two people in the same room having fun together. That was really good. But the idea of group play and, you know, massively multiplayer, sort of fundamentally changed what was possible and it got really quite exciting to really think about that. What I was interested in was the psychology of it. So I was once in China watching a game developer show me their game, and I saw something I’d never seen before. It was a dancing game, boys versus girls, and when one side lost, they had this concept of humiliating the other side. And I was like, “Humiliation? I’ve never seen that before in a game?” What would happen is a wheel would spin and all the boys would suddenly be wearing big panda outfits and they’d walk awkwardly because they’re basically being punished for losing. And I was like, “This is the smartest thing because every… you could see in the comments everyone was laughing. And so we brought the game back to the West and tested the same idea in the West, and we had the exact same experience, which is I would watch these kids that were playing this game actually, apologizing when they leave the game. And I was like, “This is gold.” Like this is a room full of strangers who’ve never met each other, will never meet each other playing a game together and then apologizing for leaving because they feel part of the group, if you know what I mean. They’ve become a group of friends in a very short period of time. So there’s a lot of interesting psychology in gaming too, like that. And I think if you were to plot that out, there’s endless possible trees of discovery for how to get people to interact and have fun together in the shortest amount of time in a very enjoyable way. I’ve heard of examples as well where you’ll get somebody… there was an idea in games where if you bought products, you would naturally buy them for yourself. So if you bought a horse, you would buy a horse for yourself. But, I then heard this idea, well what about wealthy people that wanna buy a hundred horses? Should you stop them buying a hundred horses? And it’s funny because in the Western game designers, they wouldn’t even think of offering that. In the Asian game designers it’s like, “well, why not?” And so then you can share those horses with other people and that means that… Can you imagine at night, there’s a whole army of people waiting to borrow your horses? And they’re literally texting you, “are you gonna get online? Where are you? Come on, hurry up so that, you know, we can all ride together and we will be a militia or an army together” and you’re funding it because you’re… you own the equipment, but you make it possible for this entity to exist and play. The point is that there’s just so much space to play with that kind of psychology, and to have fun, and to make those people feel empowered when they’re, you know, the king or the queen of that land. It’s kind of interesting. So at some point, when I retire, I plan to get back into gaming again. But I love the idea of getting back in without deadlines or pressure, just to have fun and find some talented people to work with. I’m really looking forward to that.
Klaus Reichert: Build up a new workshop, next to the wood workshop. [laughs]
David Perry: The game’s right there in my workshop, for sure.
Klaus Reichert: You are now working on something that seems to be different than games, but we just touched on doing games together theme. And I was wondering if there’s a good connection to viral and Carro that you are currently working on. And I think we need to explain what it is because I think the idea is actually very, very simple, but it’s so simple that it was hard to get to. And there was also a pivot where you started rather looking for connecting to influences and then pivoting to sort of working, building a platform together on the Shopify platform. And I know this sounds very weird, but I think you can explain it much better. I was wondering if there’s a connection to that playing together to selling together.
David Perry: That’s a really great question. I like the question because I am finding now that where we are today in the project, there is actually opportunity for gamification and I’m hoping to get, in maybe 2023, 2024, to get to spend some time on that. But what happened was the game industry is… how big it is? Like it’s the biggest thing in entertainment. You know, hundred billion dollars, hundreds of billions of dollars. And so then you go, “Well, what about e-commerce?” Well, that’s trillions of dollars. And so to me it’s like, well, I know nothing about e-commerce, but does that stop me getting involved? Can I learn? It’s a bit like cloud gaming. Can I just learn e-commerce as I go? And so that’s exactly what we did. So we asked ourselves -I have a co-founder- we asked ourselves, what is the most important thing in e-commerce for every single brand? It’s a very simple way to sort of filter down an idea. The two most important things that every single brand on planet Earth wakes up to is, I need more attention for my brand and I need more sales. Those are the… You will not find any brand that says, please, no more attention. We’re good. They’re buying Google clicks, they’re buying Facebook clicks, they’re working with influencers. They’re doing everything within their power to get attention. And so that’s where we started. We built technology to help brands and influencers work together in a pretty unique way and we got that working. We got lots of brands installing and using it. But we realized, is this the big play? Like, is this the big opportunity? Is this some sort of marketing platform thing, you know, where you work with influencers? Is that the big swing? And then Covid hit. And when Covid hit, people became less interested in attention and more interested in sales. So they wanted sales, with an exclamation mark after it. And so we asked ourselves, what could we do to help brands sell more? And so the concept was sell more together. So if you have a bicycle brand online but you don’t sell helmets, which by the way you find all the time, it’s really bad. Like, you’ve got to sell helmets, for goodness sake, because if not, they’ll go to Amazon and buy the helmet. Are you sure you don’t want to have a helmet in your store to sell with your bikes? Because we have lots of helmet companies that already installed to use our influencer software. You know, we can connect you up today so you’ll have helmets in your store today. And you won’t have to buy the helmets. There’s no risk. If you sell the helmet, then the wholesaler will ship it off instantly to the buyer. And so we had all these brands just start working together. So this was an interesting idea, because this “sell more together” made a lot of sense. And when you step back and you go, “Well, how did retail work?” If I made a protein bar and I got it into a major store -like in America we have Whole Foods, which is a big grocery chain, or Costco or Target, these are huge chains in the US- if you got your protein bar into their stores, you get their traffic for free. So that changes your whole life. Like, I mean, you’d be hugging each other if you got those three. Who does that for you online? And that was the question we sort of asked ourselves, like, who’s helping you get your product into lots of online stores so that you can enjoy their traffic for free? And the answer is nobody. So let’s do that at scale. And that’s basically what we’re building. And so you’re pushing your products into other people’s traffic. You’re getting… you know, they’re selling your product. The orders are coming back to you to fulfil. And then there’s an interesting twist to this: well, if I can push my products into other people’s traffic, can I pull some of their products into my traffic? So, you know, let’s say I’m the bike company, can I bring in helmets from this company, gloves from that company, bike clocks from this company and just pull all this stuff in? And now I can test different products, different categories, make money from all these different things. And so the fun part of this is that all works now. So we do that with lots of huge companies. What’s interesting is, I think, it’s gonna end up going back to the video game industry because the video game industry needs this, too. We have eSports and influencers with Twitch channels and all these kind of people that could quite frankly start to build their own customer base. And so there’s an interesting concept that, what I realised is in social media, when you look at all these influencers, they’re very focused on getting followers. They get up every day stressing about how many followers they have and how fast they’re growing. But what they don’t really realise is that followers are just a metric on a social media platform. You’re not an influencer if you actually can’t sell anything. So imagine you’ve got a million followers, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t sell a single t-shirt, for example, or a single bike. You just can’t do it. Then are you truly an influencer? And if you are an influencer and you can get people to buy bicycles, then why don’t you own your own customers? Because if you have your own store, and all the big ones, the Paris Hiltons and Ellen DeGeneres and Kim Kardashians and Mr. Beast, they’re all building their own commerce systems now so that they can ultimately own their own customers. And by doing that, what you’ve actually done is you’ve said, “Here’s the social media platform. I’ve now extracted all the people that I can actually influence, and they’re now in my own store as customers.” That means you’ve, in a way, backed up your most valuable followers into your store. And that matters because social media platforms keep disappearing. Like Vine was huge in the US. It’s completely gone. So TikTok may get cancelled. There’s people with 20, 30 million followers on TikTok. If that platform disappears like that, they’re gonna be in terrible trouble. So, this idea of influencers sort of owning their own customers is just a perfect example of just a by-product of helping them think a little differently in how they work with brands, and that’s just a little piece or a platform. So people like our… we power stores, like Paris Hilton’s store, on our platform.
Klaus Reichert: And you don’t need to develop your own technology because all of these things are based on Shopify, which is easy to use, which has APIs, lots of functionality, lots of people who know what to do. And so basically everybody, all the people that you just talked about could do their own store with products from somebody else and have perfect fulfilment. Every process would be great, everybody is sort of making money together, and me as a, for example, sailing influencer, I could sail. So boats, equipments, bundles, stuff like that where I think that’s the best thing to have and recommend or sell my recommendations, let’s put it that way. And so that “together thing” I think is really, really, cool because it’s so simple to do it. Basically the click of something, install the software, the Shopify and put some stuff together and then talk to people and come up with cool bundles, I think. It’s a no-brainer, as you said on your website.
David Perry: If you think about a space that you’re operating within, it seemed smart to us to help some people work together. Like you have a makeup company that doesn’t sell brushes, and if you ask the makeup company, “Why do you not sell brushes?” They say, “Because we don’t make brushes, we make makeup.” And it’s like, but they’re gonna buy the brushes somewhere else. You should be selling the brushes and the mirrors and the purses and the other things that go with makeup because it will increase your average order value, which will unlock your marketing team. But you can see how that would be an automatic block. You wouldn’t think to sell it because you don’t have it. So then when you say, well actually you can have everything. I mean, you want mirrors and cases and, you know, those special mirrors with the bulbs around the edges, we have all of it, right? What do you need to monetize the best? You can try different things, doesn’t cost anything. But then you get into this… my co-founder likes pickleball, which is a sport that’s taking off from the US, and the pickleball… the largest community is called the Kitchen, they have 350,000 members. And so if you’re the Kitchen, do you go and get a warehouse and start filling it with pickleball equipment? Or do you just use this digital technology or platforms called Carro? And Carro allows you to… our website is Get Carro, just to be clear, get carro.com, but it allows you then to partner with all of these different pickleball suppliers and build a pickleball marketplace at no… there’s no risk, there’s no capital outlay and now you can monetize that community. So we’ll do that kind of thing. But what happens is my co-founder and myself go, “How many communities are out there?” Like, how many groups of people that could make money from the group buying supplies. Maybe the group shares the money, I don’t know. But somehow they have a marketplace, or someone builds the marketplace for that group, or that email list, or that Facebook group, or that, you know, the scuba divers or whatever the subject is. They can just build it on our platform instantly without having to take any risk. And so that future, I think, is quite exciting, and that’s why I’m enjoying it. I don’t know what I’m gonna do after this. That’s the real question, right? [laughs]
Klaus Reichert: [laughs] I was wondering if I should use that question in the end of our conversation.
David Perry: No, but you can see why when you do enter into a different space, it’s interesting to realise that as long as you’re coming at it from a different angle and you’re not just copying other people and doing the same thing as them. It’s a bit like saying, in a video game, you have to come up with a new hook. Well, we’ve done that with e-commerce.
Klaus Reichert: You sort of leveraging the technology that is Shopify, and their popularity, their professional services and stuff like that and sort of making it very easy to basically copying something like a marketplace such as Amazon. Let’s face it, lots of stuff from Amazon is not from Amazon. And you can do something similar, as a normal person, basically.
David Perry: Yeah. It is interesting because if you’re an influencer and you send your click to Amazon, which they’ve done for like 10 years, they get like 3% of the sale. My wife said to me, “Can you set me up an Amazon account because I want to sell dog accessories so I can give the money to rescue, to dog rescue?” And I said to her, “Well, why would you do that? We have, we have Carro. They’ll give you 95 cents for each dog bowl. We give you $9 per dog bowl. Are you sure you want the 95?” And she’s like, “Why did you never explain it like this to me?” I go, “Well, that’s the difference when you’re the retailer, because you, you’re not the affiliate.” So an influencer gets an affiliate click, which is usually just a few percent, and then Amazon keeps all the customers. So you get a few percent and they keep the customer, if it’s your store, you get, you know, 20 to 50% and it’s your customer. It’s fundamentally a game changer for people that can create sales.
Klaus Reichert: Absolutely. And it takes a moment to get to understand the model, but then as you said, it’s a no-brainer. I’m not the only one that likes it. I mean, you have big investors, PayPal is one of your investors, which parts you ask a lot of attention and so that sort of is probably still for you. I mean, you have done lots of things. It must be a good thing to be backed from a big name investor.
David Perry: It’s fun to see you learning about investment. When you get an investment from PayPal, the way they do diligence, the way they check out your company is so advanced because they… you know, a big global company like that, a public company, is going to have to do everything meticulously. And so it’s actually fun to experience that, to have, you know, venture capital companies, but also they’re considered strategic investors. But when they invest, you’re learning the whole time. So this is how it’s done very professionally, you know, from a super high quality company. Yeah, it’s fun. You’re learning again, start learning about investing, right? I never took a class on investing, but you’re learning as you go, and you’re learning from really great people.
Klaus Reichert: David, I know you are in the very middle of Carro. I will not ask the question, “What is the next step for you?” because that’s sometime down the road. But we know that there is something coming. So my alternative question is, why do the next thing? Why would you do something new? Why not relax and go golfing or sailing?
David Perry: Interesting question. So, when you’re in business, you tend to spend a lot of your time making spreadsheets and PowerPoints and, you know, PDF files and all the rest of it. And I sort of had an epiphany one day, that if you look around your room right now, so you’re in a room, have a look around whoever’s listening to this, look around your room and see how many different things are in the room that somebody made. And when you start to really think about it, you can go down to the screw that’s holding the table together and say some guy obsessed over that screw, getting it just the way he wanted it. And the whole world is built by creative people. And so I found that I felt like everything I’m doing is digital. At some point I want to participate in the analog world, which is the world around us, and so that’s where I started to get interested in, you know, doing things like woodworking, because you’re gonna leave something behind. So I don’t see my daughter, you know, one day when I’m gone, being really excited about my PDF files, you know, “Look at that PDF file, Emmy, that’s really great. Let’s go through some of those spreadsheets he made.” [laughs] Like, is that the legacy you leave behind? And so I think just in the world of creativity, I want to leave some things behind that are actually, you know, treasured from people in my family that would hopefully want to keep them, and that usually means creative things, art, it could be photography, it could be physical things with woodworking, metalworking. So by building those skills you can actually start to make. And it’s already happened to me, so I’ve made furniture for people that, you know, they treasure it because it’s been made specifically for them and using the best possible materials. And so, I think that’s a fun question to ask yourself. What, what do you leave behind when you’re gone? And be careful that it isn’t a bunch of PDF files or a bunch of, you know, just digital data that might not make it. However, I have to say one thing I am enjoying is, the more that you contribute data-wise to the world, thanks to the chat GPTs and the future of AI, in some way, it can still persist, which is kind of going to… it’s gonna be interesting. But that would be a very long answer to your question. Just wanna start participating in the analog world as well.
Klaus Reichert: It’s a sort of answer about a legacy, leaving a legacy. Would you have answered this question the same way, say 30 years ago, when you were about half that age?
David Perry: Yeah, absolutely not. You have a completely different perspective on the world at that point, because you think your laser disk collection is worth investing into. I was buying laser disks, you know, all the best movies, and then at some point I realised I can’t even sell these. There’s no value to this anymore. And I guess that’s the point, is things… time moves on and so you have to embrace that and allow that to happen and not to get too stuck in whatever that thing is because, you know, like you could collect up all your old cell phones from the past, but who cares? Time’s moved on. And so for me it’s a case of trying to embrace that and just enjoy letting time move on. And so your perspective changes. So when I was younger, I was collecting and hoarding all kinds of stuff. Now I’m like, let’s get rid of it. It’s absolutely pointless. It’s sort of… it’s just a different perspective.
Klaus Reichert: David, our conversation today was really valuable to me, and I think for a lot of people listening to our conversation. We will put all the links in the show notes so people can follow up on the things we talked about. Thank you very much for taking the time for this conversation today.
David Perry: No problem at all. It was great to catch up with you. And good luck with the podcast.
Klaus Reichert: Thank you for listening to The 2.5- Conversations Connecting Innovators. You can subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcast. A transcript of this episode and additional information is also available. The link is in the show notes. My name is Klaus. I’m an innovation coach in Baden-Württemberg in the southwest of Germany.
This is The 2pt5.
“And so, I think that’s a fun question to ask yourself. What, what do you leave behind when you’re gone? And be careful that it isn’t a bunch of PDF files or a bunch of, you know, just digital data that might not make it. However, I have to say one thing I am enjoying is, the more that you contribute data-wise to the world, thanks to the chat GPTs and the future of AI, in some way, it can still persist, which is kind of going to… it’s gonna be interesting. But that would be a very long answer to your question. Just wanna start participating in the analog world as well.”David Perry