Today’s featured Startup of the Day is Cmune, a Chinese company which builds social games and applications virally distributed over SNS. They developed the first 3D multiplayer game on Facebook with 3D Paradise Paintball and they are currently the number one widget worldwide on Apple.com.

Cmune was one of the first companies to join BizSpark in China. They are hiring developers in China, France and the US.

Interview with Ludovic Bodin and Shaun LeLacheur Sales, co-founders of Cmune

Who are you?

We are the co-founders of Cmune, Ludovic Bodin and Shaun LeLacheur Sales. Our company is comprised of a multicultural team of very talented people based in Beijing. We’re building the next generation of social 3D games and applications for web & mobile, all based on a common platform we’ve created. We are true believers in the convergence of the social web with 3D and gaming as part of the future of the Internet.

How do you feel being the most promising 'company of the day' per Microsoft?

It’s a great to get this sort of validation from Microsoft. It surely brings positive karma and might help accelerate our development.

What did you do before creating your company?

We all met in either China or South Korea, and have between the four founding members created more than a dozen companies.

Currently, our team counts 10 people with 7 nationalities from 4 continents and includes a serial web entrepreneur, a 3D/networking guru, the founder of Cyworld (South Korea's largest social network), Internet & mobile experts and amazingly talented developers.

How did you get the idea? What’s the genesis?

While we were working on our previous company, we were brainstorming about the future of the Internet and how 3D would fit. One day while we were working together on branding, between Beijing, Macau and Sydney, we thought it would be cool to instantly be together in the same environment with our social and digital resources around us. At that moment, Cmune was born.

What do you sell? What is your company's mission?

We create highly social multiplayer 3D games and applications. We have both B2C and B2B approaches. B2C for games & collaborative applications where micro-transactions and digital items make sense. B2B for media, advertising & branding, creating next-gen “entertainment marketing” and moving beyond Flash, video and Second Life.

What is your market?

We see CMUNE filling the gap between casual games & “AAA” MMOs, as well as between heavy duty virtual worlds & connect-only social networks. Our target markets are US, Europe, Japan and other advanced Internet markets.

Growth? Internationalization?

We will grow in line with revenues and are de facto international. We are talking with partners, global brands and ad agencies in US, Europe and Asia.

Any clients, references or partners you want to quote?

We launched the first 3D multiplayer game on Facebook and have been the top ranking Apple Widget for the past month. We’re on track for half a million downloads by January 2009.

Funding history? VCs? BA?

Cmune is funded for the past 18 months by the 2 founders and 2 seed angels, who are also partners.

How many employees do you have? How many developers?

We are 10 people, half of us being developers; we are now growing our development and creative team.

Are you hiring? If yes, what? Where?

We are indeed. We are looking for talented 3D programmers, network & protocol engineers, shader gurus, concept artists and 3D modelers. We are always looking for talented and organized individuals who can come to Beijing to work with us, or work remotely.

Which platform are you building on? Why?

We build on the Mac & PC (and soon iPhone) for our client offer and the backend is a mix of latest Microsoft and Linux technologies.

We feel that Microsoft has a great server offer for our business logic and data tiers – the .Net framework and Visual Studio rock from a developer standpoint.

We like Linux because it works great for scaling simple services – it’s also got a great community with amazing open source projects. Price is right too.

Do you have any Software IP? Is there something that you’re the only one to do on the market?

We have developed some pretty nice techniques for networked physics, social graph visualization and other things we’d rather keep quiet for now. We’re in the process of filing 4 patents.

Who’s your role model?

There are a number of inspirations for each aspect of what we do: Howard Rheingold (communities), Clay Shirky (collaboration), Ray Oldenburg (“third place” concept), Yong Joon Hyoung (trust networks and social process re-engineering), Henry Jenkins (digital culture) and many more! We are very fortunate to be already in touch with most of them.

Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet areas?

Participatory Web OS, a more sophisticated virtual goods model and the market gap between A-tier games and free-to-play casual games.

Looking for funding? If yes, how much?

We are preparing to raise a series A round in the neighborhood of $3 million in Q1 2009 to grow the team and accelerate the development.

What about the BizSpark Program? What do you think?

This program is a great opportunity for us to get closer to the Microsoft ecosystem. It was a no-brainer as we see only upsides in joining BizSpark.

Any advice to young software entrepreneurs?

The noise level in Internet is going down dramatically “thanks” to the crisis. Now is the best time to start up a company, inspire extreme innovation and lead to the creation of great companies!

How do you feel about the crisis ? What are YOU going to do ?

If “release early and release often” was the mantra so far, all development now has to make good business sense and generate direct revenue. We’ll be conservative in spending and bold in making great stuff.

Anything else you’d like to say?

We think that Asia is today a great base for innovation as so many new concepts are pioneered and talent nurtured there. It has helped us think outside of the box.

We are looking for talented individuals to join us, great partners to work with, clients to make great stuff for, and investors who share our vision. Please get in touch via info@cmune.com (our founding team get these emails).