-- Ge Wang wants everyone to play music, even if they don't know how.
With top virtual instrument app hits like Magic Piano, Ocarina and Leaf Trombone, Wang's Smule has sold nearly 20 million app downloads, and attracted top investment. Shasta Ventures recently raised $12 million for a second round of financing, closing in October.
With the new funds, Smule just made its first acquisition. Atlanta based Kh.ush, which also makes musical apps like Songify and La Di Da. No terms were disclosed, but Kh.ush will remain in Georgia.
"Our goal is to really grow and keep pace but stay in front of the emerging music making business," says Wang, Smule's co-founder.
While Smule's expertise is with virtual instruments like the piano, trombone, flute and violin, Kh.ush is adapting speech to music. The Songify app lets you recite spoken words into the iPhone, and then turns it into a song.
Wang, when not at Palo Alto based Smule, also serves as an assistant professor of music at Stanford University. His day and night job shares a big commonality with Kh.ush's Chief Technology Officer, Parag Chordia, who teaches at Georgia State.
Khu.sh CEO Prerna Gupta, who is married to Chordia and appears in YouTube promo videos for the apps, says the close union with schools pays off handsomely for the companies. "We get first dibs at all the best students," she says. "It's a great recruiting tool."
Wang says he puts in a full schedule at Stanford, and that his Smule experience pays off handsomely for students.
"I teach a course on mobile music," he says. "I talk about how to design, build and ship apps in the real world," he says. "I've been able to advise students on every single phase of mobile social music. So the interaction flows naturally."
Smule's two biggest hits have both seen 6 million downloads -- the 99-cent Ocarina virtual flute for iPhone and Magic Piano, a free virtual app for the iPad, iPhone and iPad Touch. For the Piano, Smule gives away the app, but sells songs for the app at $2.99 apiece.
Kh.ush's biggest hit is the free Songify, which has seen 6 million downloads. Musical backgrounds sell for 99 cents each. Gupta says some 65 million songs have been created with Songify. All told, the combined companies have seen some 350 million songs created.
"Our goal is to create a word in which everyone creates music," says Gupta.