The Newest Silicon Valley Hotshot is 12
If you thought it was hard enough to compete with a bunch of 20-something geek brainiacs in a garage in Menlo Park, California, you probably don't want to hear about Arjun Mehta, a sixth grader who started the company PlaySpan last year in his parent's garage in Santa Clara.
Yet what he's done is enough to impress the most jaded: PlaySpan has just raised $6.5 million from three venture capital companies: Menlo Ventures, South Korea-based STIC International and Novel TMT Ventures, based in Hong Kong, according to a profile in VentureBeat.
The company's technology lets game publishers make payments and shop for other items, calling itself the "first publisher-sponsored in-game commerce network." With offices in Mumbai and Shanghai, it boasts a combined user base of over 10 million gamers. In early September, it released an alpha version of its publisher sponsored network.
Mehta incorporated PlaySpan in May 2006, because he was "passionate about gaming and software programming that can [a] make game playing experience exciting and more importantly rewarding," according to his site. He incorporated it with earnings from selling online game items won from quests he fought while attending the 5th grade at Challenger School in San Jose.
Not surprisingly, pundits were quick to call the idea of a 12-year old guru raising millions in capital dubious, or worse, "a PR scam," not-so-subtly hinting that a sixth grader makes for a more interesting story in a town numbed to dot-com success sagas.
Arjun's father, Karl, responded in the comments of VentureBeat saying that although his son "has a great deal of input in PlaySpan's product and technology," that his primary focus in on his academics.
Furthermore, his mother doesn't want all of this media attention on her son.
"I am the co-founder and CEO, and I run the company," he wrote.