The site is basically a version of what Newcomb demonstrated at Disrupt. The technology has advanced since then, he said. Newcomb gave me a demonstration of one aspect of the physics engine that the Famo.us team is developing, which featured one surface sliding on top of a second one — he could adjust the physical properties of the surfaces and the motion would change immediately. In other words, Newcomb said developers could use Famo.us to create apps with their very own “bounce” navigation (something that Apple tried to patent, although the US Patent Office wasn’t on-board).
Newcomb said he’s very self-consciously trying to be a perfectionist in how he builds Famo.us as a company. For one thing, he noted that 16,000 developers have signed up for the beta, but “we are not letting of them touch anything yet.” That same perfectionism is going into the company office, which is located in a penthouse in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood. When I visited on Friday, Newcomb pointed to the desks, which seemed perfectly fine to me, and said they would be replaced in a few days because they were the wrong kind of wood.
“That lean startup style — I don’t believe that,” he said, later clarifying that the lean approach makes sense for some startups, but not for everyone. Because Newcomb wants the technology to be used to create beautiful apps, “everything we do has to represent perfection and elegance.”
Newcomb said most of the initial investors (Famo.us raised a $1.1 million seed round) weren’t thrilled by the shift, because the vision was too big and challenging,, but Javelin partner Jed Katz stuck by him. In fact, Katz told me that he had backed the company initially because of his confidence in Newcomb, and if anything, he had more questions about “the original consumer version — with the second generation, it really clicked with us.”