Seth Priebatsch: SCVNGR’s Chief Ninja

November 3, 2010 at 3:28 pm Leave a comment

From the recent movie, The Social Network, and the accompanying blog entry written a few weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg has become a familiar name to all of us.  Let’s recap a bit of what we know about him.  He’s 26.  He founded Facebook in 2004, at age 19, while attending Harvard.  Then, he dropped out.  His net worth is in the billions.  He’s the youngest self-made billionaire ever.  His success was made possible through his incredible drive and genius.

Facebook is not the only company with a young, super intelligent, college dropout for CEO.  In fact, it is becoming an expectation rather than an exception.  Just yesterday, CNN introduced us to another up-and-comer in the technology realm.

Meet Seth Priebatsch.

Seth is the founder and CEO of SCVNGR.    Have you heard of it?  Chances are you have not.  Not yet.  Here’s the deal according to the SCVNGR website.  “SCVNGR is part awesome location-based mobile game, part really powerful mobile gaming platform.”  What does that mean?  It’s basically a smartphone app that identifies businesses and locations near the user and provides them with challenges to be done at each of those locations.  Completing challenges earns the user points that can be used to redeem free products from participating businesses.

For SCVNGR, Seth is projecting the perfect CEO image.  He’s a young, smart, driven workaholic.  For tech startups, having this type of CEO gives the feel of cutting edge ideas.  How can you not have a new idea when the founder wasn’t even two decades old when the company was started?

Think starting a company at 19 is impressive?  How about at 12?  That’s what Seth did.  His first company, Giftopedia, was an online shopping list for price comparison and such.  Surprisingly, as geniuses go, he didn’t know how to code the tool himself.  Instead, he turned to outsourcing.  He hired people in Russia and India to program the tools, often waking up at 3am to host conference calls with employees oversees.  He created another company in high school and used the profits from that business to create SCVNGR.

So, having dropped out of Princeton at 19 to start SCVNGR, he has been the CEO (or Chief Ninja as his business card reads) of his third company for a little over three years.  He can be found at work seven days a week.  He lives in his office, literally.  He has a sleeping bag under the couch.  On the rare occasion, he might wander a few blocks away to his parents’ house to sleep in a real bed.

Investors are impressed with Seth’s hard work and ideas.  As a result, he has received several venture capital investments totaling over five million dollars.  Four million dollars of it came from Google Ventures, one of the most significant financiers of tech startups in the San Francisco Bay area.

While Mark Zuckerberg’s trademark look is a hoodie and flip flops, you’re likely to see Seth Priebatsch barefoot, sporting some bright orange sunglasses on top of his head.  He uses his youth to his advantage, always trying to throw off visitors and making them wonder how young he actually is.  The best example to convey this is the floor coverings in his office.  Typically, you’d expect to see an area rug, but he has a giant car mat instead.  His shelves are full of model cars.  Does he play with the cars on the floor mat?  No, but he is closer to toddler age than retirement so you never know what to think.  That’s exactly what he is going for.  He’s not trying to hide the fact that he’s young.  Instead, he uses it as a tool to help his business grow and succeed.

A summary of his life story can be found in the article that I read.  It’s quite interesting and shows quite clearly how his parents instilled this somewhat excessive work ethic in him.  Head over to to check it out for yourself.  Keep an eye out for more news on SCVNGR or perhaps even download the app on your smartphone and give it a shot!  You can get more information on it at the company website,
Don’t forget to head over to Blackboard and take the quiz!  Have a great weekend!



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