TikTok popularized “remix” culture, but Koji wants to go one step further by democratizing the ability to create and share social content by making it easy to share interactive content like mini games. Already, during the beta period, the company said that 150,000 Kojis were created and played 10 million times.
The San Diego, California-based company spent the past year beta testing the product, said Dmitry Shapiro, CEO of Koji, in an interview with GamesBeat.
“TikTok introduced a new wrinkle to this concept of remixing, not starting from scratch, but starting from something that already exists and changing it,” Shapiro said. “People thought this was copying things in the past and that wasn’t valuable. But TikTok has shown that is not the case. It showed that remixes themselves could be significantly better than the originals.”
The company was created by Shapiro, a former MySpace Music and Google veteran, and Sean Thielen, a young developer. Galaxy Interactive led the round with participation from Bitkraft Esports Ventures and others. Angel investors include former Disney CEO Michael Eisner; games and esports firm Modern Times Group; Google News head Richard Gingras; and Zynga founder Mark Pincus.
Meanwhile, the company recently hired former Sony Online Entertainment CTO Chris Yates as its head of engineering.
The goal is to create things that go viral.
“All of this is really a function of who creates it and who shares it,” Shapiro said. “A big influencer could make a Koji, share it on Twitter, and it could get 20 million plays.”
Using any smartphone, tablet or computer, Shapiro said anyone can create Kojis in minutes and instantly share across all social and messaging platforms. Based on a full-stack, standards-based Java application, Koji is like the WeChat chat programs, but in this case Koji generates a link that you can share on any platform. It supports supports multimedia, audio, video, 3D graphics, augmented reality, and virtual reality content.
You can grab a template for a Koji, remix your content, and then share the permalink anywhere. It can work on just about any platform, including Reddit, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and others.
“My six-year-old knows how to do this,” Shapiro said. “We believe that the interactivity is one of the next big things on that spectrum of things can be democratized.”
Creating Koji’s is simple. Anywhere you discover a Koji (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn), you can simply tap or click the “remix” button. Or visit the Koji, pick a template, tap or click the “remix” button to customize with images, colors, sounds and other options, and then share to your feed on any social platform. Hundreds of templates are currently featured with new ones being added multiple times per day.
How influencers have created Kojis
Just as TikTok democratized remixing, Koji is democratizing interactivity. During its stealth days, Koji scored some interesting partnerships. Burger King retweeted a Koji created by a fan about the Moldy Whopper Ad Campaign, and it got tens of thousands of plays, inspiring over a dozen other Burger King games to be created by fans. The average time playing the game was a minute and 48 seconds.
On top of that, YouTuber ThatYouTub3Family went live with a contest, inviting fans to make Koji’s using their assets. The result: more than 2,000 Kojis created and a major lift in engagement with the fans.
BeastBoyShub, whose game BeastBoyShub Zombie Shooter hit 100,000 plays within an hour of going live. A video of him playing his own game drove over two million views on his YouTube channel.
Tay Li Cheng, a teacher in Singapore whose COVID-19 table wipe down game was shared by the Singapore Ministry of Education, has generated hundreds of thousands of plays.
Shapiro believes that interactive social content drives dramatically more engagement and sharing, and it leads to more followers than traditional, static photo/video/text posts. Early users are also benefiting from the revenue generating opportunities Koji offers, he said.
Developers and other “asset creators” can generate revenue by creating templates.
“I think of the templates as interactive selfies or interactive memes or interactive video,” Shapiro said.
That generally takes more skill to create, but creating remixes of those templates takes almost no skill at all. Those content creators can offer premium templates or license graphics, sounds, music, and other content to remixes. Koji takes about 20% of a purchase.
“This platform enables mini apps, a marketplace, the democratization of creation tools, and sort of all the trimmings that that are required,” Shapiro said. “It’s like TikTok, but interactive.”
The company has 10 employees.