Innovation That Matters

Dystopian startup simulator lets anyone build a tech giant

Work & Lifestyle

The Founder, a game set in a dystopian universe where only growth matters, lets users find talented employees, invest in verticals, and buy out the competition in pursuit of perpetual growth.

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Silicon Valley startups, just like companies in any other industry, has their fair share of humorous stereotypes. The growth, innovation and disruption-driven ethos, with cult-like employee morale philosophies, are now inspiration for a new game. The Founder, brainchild of interactive designer Francis Tseng, is a simulated startup management game set in a dystopian universe.


Users play the part of founders and launch a startup in an alternative universe, set in a very similar 2001 to reality, after the dotcom boom and crash. Beginning in a humble apartment, users build their company from the ground up by hiring employees (cone-shaped avatars) and incentivizing them with perks such as ping-pong and butter coffee. Startups level up by targeting disruptive markets, investing in verticals and chasing relentless growth until they’re the leader of a global tech super company. The Founder is currently crowdfunding via Kickstarter with an estimated launch in March 2017 on a pay-what-you-like model.

Through theoretically, the game could give potential founders a taste of what’s to expect, Tseng’s irony-laden, darkly humorous simulation is perhaps trying to dissuade, more than encourage, the culture of obsessive growth-hacking. In their own words: “Winning in The Founder means shaping a world in which you are successful — at the expense of almost everyone else.”

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