As the first employee at Dwango Wireless I played a major role in building the company, alongside the founder and CEO, Robert Huntley. In roles of increasing responsibility as Vice President Business Development, President and later Chief Operating Office, I was the primary author of the business plan, played a key role in raising over $6 million in initial start-up funding, led and closed the crucial initial distribution contracts (with AT&T Wireless, Verizon), led two acquisitions (a media company and a mobile game studio), and I started the Seattle office that was the core of the operation. This included site selection, office setup, hiring and managing the initial staff of 15 - 20 employees. As Chief Operating Officer, the company had grown to over 80 employees, where I was responsible for Operations, IT and Acquisitions.
Dwango Wireless published and created many categories and titles of mobile games and other media. Star Exceed was one of the first top down vertical scrolling space shooters in the U.S. market, and it was one of Dwango Wireless's most popular games. Star Exceed first launched in 2002 on AT&T and Verizon Wireless, with both BREW and J2ME versions. Some of the early launch handsets were the Motorola T720, the Sharp Z800 and the LG VX 4400. The Motorola T720 was one of the earliest color feature phones in the U.S. market capable of running a downloadable application. Dwango Wireless published its premium games at a time when most consumers were still playing Snake on a black and white or monochrome screen.
Star Exceed was one of the early works of famed mobile game designer Ryo Shimizu, who created the first hit mobile game in the world called Tsuri-baka Kibun (translated as Crazy Fishing) for Dwango Co Ltd in Japan. This was a browser based game first launched in Japan in 1999. Later Dwango Wireless created an application based version for the U.S. market and published it under the Bassmaster brand. One of Dwango's other early hits included Dwango Racing a top down vertical scrolling driving game. That had 8 levels each with a different computer rival to defeat.
Star Diverison was the sequel application to Star Exceed, and was first launched in June of 2003 on the NEC 515 and later on the NEC 525 handsets. It was the most advanced mobile games of its time in the U.S. market. The NEC 515 had a 216 x 162 pixel display with 65,000 colors and was the first handset that had a processor fast enough to support more advanced gameplay.
Dwango Wireless (aka Dijji) had many other game titles, ringtones and applications it created in its studios in Seattle and San Francisco. Many of these titles were published under the ESPN, Rolling Stone, Bill Board, USA Today, Playboy and Napster brands across the North American market.