Ari Mir and Ophir Tanz may only be in their 20s, but they're no strangers to starting their own companies, or to each other: GumGum Inc. is in fact the second startup on which the two have joined forces.
Mir and Tanz met as students at Buckley High School in Sherman Oaks. The two parted ways briefly for college Mir to USC and Tanz to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh then reunited in Los Angeles to found Mojungle, a mobile media company, in 2006.
The two sold Mojungle within a year. The duo declined to say how much they sold it for. "But Ari bought a Porsche," noted Tanz.
The two entrepreneurs then decided they needed something more ambitious to do than buy new wheels. And they had worked so well together at Mojungle, they agreed to try their next venture together.
"We said, 'Hey that was fun, let's go ahead and do it again,'" said Mir.
Hence GumGum, the business into which Mir and Tanz poured their money after the sale of Mojungle. GumGum is an Internet company that helps photographers and photo agencies make money from their content by licensing it to publishers on the Web. GumGum can help clients make money either on a per-use basis where they're paid every time a publisher licenses one of their pictures or through online advertising that's packaged with the photo.
The venture hasn't been without hiccups at one point, the two decided they needed to scrap GumGum's technology and start from scratch but the company has seen growth. Mir, GumGum's chief product officer, and Tanz, the chief executive, didn't disclose revenue figures, but the Santa Monica-based company now has seven employees, up from three when Mir and Tanz founded it in March 2007.
And while Mir and Tanz are now veteran entrepreneurs, they said the rush of running their own business whether it's closing a big deal or stressing over investment capital never gets old.
"It's really a game of highs and lows, and the highs are really high and the lows are really low," Tanz said. "When you feel like things aren't going as well or as good as they could be, or you feel like you're about to lose a million dollars in investment capital, it's not fun. But the truth is I'd still do this for free."
- Ari Mir, 27, and Ophir Tanz, 26, chief product and chief executive officer, respectively, GumGum Inc., Santa Monica
- Business: Licensor of photos and other content to Internet publishers
- Employees: 7
- Fact: GumGum counts Time Warner Inc., MySpace, Gawker and MTV among its clients
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