Welcome to our sixth annual GamesBeat conference. This event is now so old that I can recycle my jokes.
Thank you for coming today. I’d like you all to turn around and look at the back of the room. Now wave to the camera. Twitch is livestreaming this whole conference to the Internet. Yes, that means that a million spectators are watching you in the audience, as you are watching our conference. So don’t pick your nose, because you never know when someone is going to take a screenshot.
Thanks to everyone who is watching us out there. I hope Amazon is making good special offers to you. And for those of you in the room. We’re glad you’re hear in person to take advantage of the networking.
GamesBeat 2014 is an event where we can celebrate how big the game industry has become and how far it reaches. We are happy to report that we’re expecting attendance of more than 500 people over two days.
We started the GamesBeat conference in 2009 because we saw a chance to bring together investors, entrepreneurs, developers, CEOs, and technologists. At GamesBeat, our mission is to tell you the stories about games and why they matter.
We want to be an influencer. At our events, we want you to feel like we have the right people in the room for you. There are a lot of deals happening in the game industry, and some of them are very imaginative. This is the kind of place where the introductions and networking happens for those deals. If you see Unity’s David Helgason talking to anybody about anything, it is your obligation to tweet it to the rest of the world, as billions of dollars may be changing hands.
In some ways, venture investors are failing the game industry. They put about $472 million into game startups in the first half of the year, according to Digi-Capital. But exits in the game business are already running in excess of $10 billion, or twice the total amount of acquisition dollars in 2013. This gap means that the venture capitalists are under-investing in games, according to Digi-Capital.
But that’s OK. Our theme today is Total World Domination. OK, say it with me: Total World Domination. That means that it is a global business. Tech titans like Google and Amazon are now competing to acquire game companies such as Twitch, and so are Asian companies like Tencent, Nexon, and Alibaba. If someone is under-investing, somebody else will step in and fill the gap.
Rick Thompson’s Signia Venture Partners has been fearlessly investing in game companies. It invested in China’s FunPlus, a mobile game company most of us in this room have never heard of. He was rewarded with a big exit. FunPlus just sold its existing game business to a Chinese holding company for $960 million. We’ll hear from both Rick and the CEO of FunPlus, Andy Zhong, at our event.
If you are just looking in Silicon Valley for the next big thing, you may not find it. Rick recently introduced me to the CEO of a Chinese mobile game company that had more than 1,000 employees. I had never heard of it. If you’re running a game company, a bigger game company just might come out of nowhere and surprise you.
I hope you can find surprises here. It is our promise to you that GamesBeat is the place to come for the stories, and people, that matter.
We like to connect the dots for our readers and attendees. But those connections wouldn’t happen without a great team. It takes a lot of work to put on this event.
I’d like to recognize and thank our CEO and founder Matt Marshall, who, with John Koetsier, just helped create our new VB Insight research division; and Dylan Tweney, our editor-in-chief editor, who runs our excellent news team. Thanks to our great events staff: Amy Nichols, Kayla Jossey, Katie Donnel, Romain Nervil, and Evergreen. Our sales team led by Aaron Golden and Stacy Cohen. Our marketers LaurieAnne Lassek and Gaby Termont and our all-around projects man Jason Spangenthal. I’d also like to thank our repeat volunteers like Elizabeth Olson and Sean Kauppinen as well as a lot of new volunteers.
As Shoe said, we are planning to do a brand new conference, the GamesBeat Summit, in 2015. We are also glad to report that GamesBeat 2015 will take place in San Francisco on Oct. 13 and 14th next year. We’d like to hear what themes will be hot ones to consider for those events.
We’ve also built a great team at GamesBeat itself. Dan Hsu, editor-in-chief of GamesBeat, manages our team that includes me, managing editor Jason Wilson, and writers Jeff Grubb and Mike Minotti. We’ve got a large network of professional freelance writers. And we have our crowdsourced team writing as well. When I send out my weekly email now, it often includes links for 80 stories. I’ve built a reputation for working hard and never sleeping. In reality, GamesBeat is a publication that never sleeps.
I’ve covered the game industry since 1996. But I’m here to learn as well because everything is changing in gaming. When you walk out of here, we want you to feel like you understand gaming and Total World Domination.
We’ve got 102 all-star speakers this year in 53 sessions.
We have about 20 more sessions this year with the addition of GamesBeat University, which is down one level in the Market Street room on level 3. GamesBeat University is full of how-to sessions like how to get featured in the App Store or how to deal with internet haters. It starts at 11 am today and runs through 5:10 pm, and tomorrow it runs from 10 am to 3 pm. I encourage you to check it out and offer feedback. We see GamesBeat University as a way to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs. We hope that these people will be among our future winners for our Innovation Showdown contest for the best game startup.
We are grateful to have help from some great moderators. Our emcees include Shoe, me, Wedbush Securities managing director Michael Pachter, YetiZen cofounder Japheth Dillman, and GamesBeat University emcees Jeff Green, Margaret Wallace, and Joseph Olin.
I’m delighted to say that we have the CEO of Electronic Arts in our opening fireside chat. Here to interview him is Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors. What better way to kick off a conversation about, say it with me, Total World Domination.