Surreal startup simulator strikes heart of Silicon Valley

The Founder, a free new browser based game by Francis Tseng and funded by a Kickstarter campaign, puts players in charge of their own start-up tech company in the post dot com bubble burst of 2001. 

As The Founder, you are tasked to grow your company from the ground up with the ultimate goal of making money or changing the world.  The gameplay is simple to get into quickly if you are used to simulation games, but its tutorial will help players new to this type of genre pick it up fairly quick as it walks the player through the games interface.  After naming your company you select from two options for what kind of business you wish to create – Hardware or Information.

Although taking place in 2001, The Founder doesn’t hesitate from the get go to let you know the limitations of the actual year don’t apply to the alternate world of the game.  For example, the description for selecting Hardware reads “Create widgets, and throw them away next year”, and specifies you’ll be working with mobile technology.  One of The Founder’s strengths is its sense of humor, which usually involves navigating real life short-comings in a strategy video game.  While selecting a co-founder, one of the options is a person with no skills, but comes with $10,000 in inheritance money. 

Later, during an employment negotiation, the game sarcastically gave me a notification reading:  “Nice!  His salary expectation went down!”. 

The Founder’s depth of game play, paired with satire of the business world make it a fun diversion during your real workday.  Each minute of real time is a month in the game, so you have to act quickly to appease the board members and keep your company afloat. You can try The Founder out for yourself at

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