Big Fish snares an Angry Bird with Wibe Wagemans hire

Wibe Wagemans is trading Angry Birds for Big Fish.

Wagemans, the former global brand-building executive (known as the Hummingbird) at Rovio, maker of the popular Angry Birds game, will now be vice president and general manager of the new mobile division at Big Fish Games.

The hire shows that there is a lot of opportunity and competition in mobile games, and executives are finding lots of opportunities to slingshot from one company to another.

Asked why he would sell the Angry Birds — who have become a cultural phenomenon in the past two years — short, Wagemans (who spoke at our GamesBeat 2011 event last year) noted that he was trading an 18-hour commute from Seattle to Helsinki to a 20-minute commute across one bridge. On top of that, Wagemans said he is excited about the chance to build new brands within mobile for Big Fish, which is one of the biggest makers of casual games.

Seattle-based Big Fish Games has restructured itself to have a separate mobile division, where Wagemans will be vice president and general manager.

“What appealed to me is the potential opportunity here,” Wagemans said. “For those who know it, Big Fish is a trusted brand. But this opportunity has a lot going for it and I have been building brands for more than a decade in the mobile industry.”

Big Fish has 2,500 games in its catalog of casual web games. It has also published 237 iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad) games and has had a couple of No. 1 hits. About 90 percent of those games have been published in the last 12 months.

But it could use more name recognition. Wagemans said he will figure out how much first-party and third-party game development will happen at Big Fish. At the moment, Big Fish has 150 development partners with more than 500 games.

To date, Big Fish titles have been downloaded more than 1.5 billion times. Wagemans joined Rovio a year ago as senior vice president of global brand advertising. Before that, he was Microsoft’s global head of marketing of Bing search for mobile. He has held mobile marketing jobs for the past 17 years. He will report to Jeremy Lewis, chief executive of Big Fish.

Wagemans said the company has an exciting game release schedule for 2012. Big Fish was founded in 2002 and its games are sold in more than 150 countries.