46 Cents in Revenue Per Daily Active User? Vancouver’s A Thinking Ape Has Seen It Before

Vancouver-based A Thinking Ape may be a quiet player in the mobile games space, but the company’s silence doesn’t mean it hasn’t been up to much.

Founded by Kenshi Arasaki and Wilkins Chung, two Canadian former Amazon developers, A Thinking Ape was originally a chat client company that was backed by Y Combinator three years ago. After pivoting into social games in 2009, fellow Canadian and former Facebook developer Eric Diep joined the team and since then things haven’t slowed down for the company.

In the past year, A Thinking Ape has grown from from three to 40 employees, begun porting its flagship game Kingdoms at War to Android, bought out a smaller Vancouver developer called Good Guy Robots and begun working on a brand-new social casual game outside of the company’s core RPG niche.

We sat down with co-founder Kenshi Arasaki in A Thinking Ape’s still-under-renovation two floor office in Vancouver’s Gastown district.

Inside Network: As far as I know you haven’t taken any additional funding after your initial angel round, is that something you’re looking at?

Kenshi Arasaki: Given that we’ve been able to grow completely off of revenue, cashflow isn’t the issue. There are obviously situations in which we would consider raising a Series A, but it would have to be a situation where we had to raise a boatload of cash to take over the market.

IN: All three of A Thinking Ape’s co-founders are Canadian, but the company got its start in San Francisco. Why did you choose to come back to Canada?

KA: While I really love Canada and Vancouver, the primary goal behind the moving the development office was saying, “Where can we build a company long term? Where can we scale out our company now that we’ve got some traction?” Once you have a business model, you need a really good source of incredible people. Vancouver turned out to be a really good fit and we decided to build our head office here and grow our company to hundreds if not thousands of people. You can build a team of up to 100 people anywhere, but where can you build a team that’s thousands of people?

IN: Expansion is clearly on your mind. Where do you see the company in a couple of years? 

KA: We’re not always going to be a social gaming company. One thing that we’re really good at is building a social layer within games, so at the end of the day we want to build out the social platform that’s been so good to us and make it available for other people. Right now we’re still trying to figure out how to make that a generalizable product.

IN: So you’re looking to transition into a service or platform company?

KA: It’s possible that we won’t always make games. But for the foreseeable future, it’s games. We’re at the intersection of two amazingly large markets that are growing really quickly: mobile and social games. While the race is over for Facebook, it’s still being determined who the players are on mobile and there’s no clear winner. We’re uniquely positioned in iOS to be one of those players.

If you become a major player, it’s not out of the ordinary to see it becoming a billion dollar business, and that’s something we’re striving for.

IN: Speaking of your games, how are your MAU and DAU figures doing? Are you still growing or are you looking to Android for expansion?

KA: In terms of our MAU growth, you remember the issue in the app store where incentivized installs were killed? That hurt a lot of our competitors.