I’m delighted to announce our venture investor panel for GamesBeat 2016. Our seasoned panel will evaluate whether the game investment market is tepid, hot, or just right.
The speakers include Chris Fralic, partner at First Round Capital. Based in New York, Fralic joined the firm in 2006 and he has a number of investments in gaming, including Roblox and Mobcrush. He has over 25 years of industry experience.
Our next speaker is Clinton Foy, managing director and general partner at CrossCut Ventures. He has been a partner at Crosscut since 2013, and he focuses on early stage venture capital investments in mobile, social, cloud, consumer, new platforms, games, augmented reality, and virtual reality. He was previously chief operating officer of Square Enix, and he has led investments into Super Evil Megacorp, Vulcun, and Mobcrush. He also cofounded and is chairman of the esports team The Immortals.
And our final speaker on the panel is Dan Fiden, chief strategy officer at Funplus. He helps run a $50 million fund to invest in games and VR startups, such as Sirvo Studios. He was previously a founder and partner at Signia Venture Partners, and he was CEO of Wild Needle.
Once again, the session will be moderated by Martin Rae, president of The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Rae runs the professional academy of game industry peers that stages the annual DICE Summit and the DICE Awards in Las Vegas each year. He has been the head of the nonprofit since 2010 and is a champion of the game industry. Rae has traditionally hosted our panel on venture capital investments in games.
Our theme is “The platform awakens: A new hope for the game industry.”
Our previously announced speakers include:
Niccolo Maisto cofounded FaceIt in 2011, and the company is now overseeing the Esports Championship Series league for the military shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. He drives the company’s vision, strategy, and growth.
Under his leadership, the team at FaceIt comes together to server over 4 million users. The company now works in 6 different games and has provided the underlying tech for more than 12 million competitive-gaming sessions.
Todd Krieger, Deep Focus emerging technology director, spends his days identifying opportunities for consumers and brands in the growing fields of esports and virtual reality. He caught the esports bug covering the Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice, Poland and is excited to help grow pro gaming domestically. Todd has led multi-disciplinary teams spanning product, sales, business development and marketing. Some of his career highlights include creating the world’s leading celebrity destination OMG for Yahoo, developing award-winning interactive TV programming for Microsoft, and serving as the Futurist in Residence at the New York Times.
Andy Swanson, vice president for esports at Twitch, is a 17-year veteran of the video game industry. His career began in 1998 in advertising sales at Future US where he eventually became the publisher of PC Gamer, OXM, and PSM in Future’s Games Group. In 2007, he joined Ubisoft before moving on to GameFly. In 2013, Andy joined Twitch, with his current focus on planning, evangelizing, and executing the strategy around brand sponsorships and integrations within Twitch’s esports ecosystem.
John Hanke, CEO of Niantic Labs, the creator of the mobile gaming sensation Pokémon Go. That augmented reality game is so hot that it has broken records, shooting to No. 1 in the top downloads and top-grossing mobile games charts in just seven days.
Hanke started Niantic with Google in 2010 to pioneer a new kind of location-based game. He wanted to promote exercise and an appreciation of public art. The company launched Ingress in 2012 as an invite-only Android app. It grew to millions of players, and it attracted the attention of Nintendo and The Pokémon Company Group. Now Pokémon Go is a huge hit.
Rikard Steiber, the senior vice president of virtual reality at HTC, the maker of the HTC Vive virtual reality headset. HTC recently said it will help manage a $10 billion fund to invest in VR apps. Steiber manages the global VR app store business and mentors Vive startups. Prior to HTC Vive, Steiber successfully built up several international businesses in video and esports as the CEO for MTGx and chief digital officer at Modern Times Group. At Google, he was global marketing director of mobile and social advertising.
Michael Metzger, a veteran speaker at GamesBeat events and a senior vice president at Houlihan Lokey. He provides M&A and financing advisory services to media, Internet, and technology companies.
Wanda Meloni, executive director of the Open Gaming Alliance. She will moderate a panel on monetizing VR. She is also CEO and senior analyst at M2 Advisory Group and editor-in-chief of the Gaming Business Review.
Julie Uhrman, head of platform business development for Jaunt, a leader in cinematic virtual reality. Prior to Jaunt, she made a big splash as the CEO and Founder of Ouya, an innovative Android game console that enabled any developer to publish a game to the TV.
Christina Heller, CEO of VR Playhouse, a Los Angeles production services company for the VR entertainment industry. She will speak on a panel on AR/VR beyond games.
Stewart Rogers, the director of marketing technology at VentureBeat’s VB Insight. Rogers is crafting a new report based on his latest VR marketplace research, and he’ll be talking about that in his session.
James Iliff, the creative director at Survios, the maker of the upcoming Raw Data game for the HTC Vive. I named that VR shooter game one of my top favorites at the recent E3 show in Los Angeles.
Tom Sanocki, the CEO of Limitless, a new VR startup that enables content developers to create interactive VR characters that respond to voice, gestures, gaze, and more. Limitless is targeting the technology to film and game developers initially, as well as other vertical markets including education, advertising, and travel. Previously, Sanocki spent 11 years as a character lead at Pixar, where he built characters and technology on films from Finding Nemo through The Good Dinosaur, filed five patents, and won a VES award for Mater in Cars.
Adam Orth, the creative director at Three One Zero, the maker of Adr1ft, a pioneering VR game about a survivor of a wreck in space. Orth is a creative director, writer, and entrepreneur passionate about crafting immersive, interactive digital experiences.
A veteran of the video game industry, he has held high-level creative positions at Microsoft, LucasArts, Electronic Arts, Sony Computer Entertainment, and PopCap Games. He has directly collaborated with George Lucas and Frank Miller and has created digital entertainment for Lucasfilm, NASA, Nike, and National Geographic.
Jules Urbach, the CEO of Otoy. He’s a pioneer in computer graphics, streaming, and 3D rendering with over 25 years of industry experience. He made his first game, Hell Cab (Time Warner Interactive), at age 18, which was one of the first CD-ROM games ever created.
Six years after Hell Cab, Urbach founded Groove Alliance. Groove created the first 3D game ever available on Shockwave.com (Real Pool). Currently, Urbach is busy working on his two latest ventures, Otoy and LightStage, which aim to revolutionize 3D content capture, creation, and delivery.
Sylvio Drouin, the vice president of Unity Labs at game engine maker Unity Technologies. Drouin is leading Unity Technologies’ advanced research efforts, looking three to 10 years down the road. Unity Labs is a multinational team whose work has already resulted in cutting-edge graphics and VR technologies that are demonstrating what developers and consumers will be doing in the near future.
A self-taught college dropout, he wrote his first applications at age 10 and worked as an OS engineer at 16. His early ventures include work on large-scale projects at companies that include Philips Advanced Research Labs, Eicon Technology, France Telecom, Toyota, Fujitsu, Matsushita, and Epson, as well as a variety of startups. He’s been specifically responsible for driving innovations, product vision, and core technologies.
Clifton Dawson, the chief executive of Greenlight VR, which just published a report on virtual reality. Greenlight VR is a market research firm for the global virtual reality industry. Greenlight benchmarks thousands of companies and provides insights about consumer attitudes and behaviors. Greenlight also publishes the annual Virtual Reality Industry Report. Prior to founding Greenlight VR, Dawson was a growth and revenue analyst at Snapchat, the popular image messaging and multimedia app.
Michael Condrey, the cofounder and studio head of Sledgehammer Games, the developers of 2014’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and 2011’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. He was previously the chief operating officer and head of development at Visceral Games on 2008’s Dead Space. Other noteworthy credits from his nearly 20-year development tenure include EA’s James Bond, Need for Speed, and FIFA series, among many other titles. His studio has several hundred people.
Megan Gaiser, the principal of Contagious Creativity, a creative consultancy and co-CEO of Spiral Media Ltd. She specializes in creative leadership, strategy, and diversity. She is the former chief creative strategy officer and former CEO and president of Her Interactive, the maker of the Nancy Drew series of games that has inspired millions of girls and women. Gaiser is a veteran of our GamesBeat talks on creativity and diversity from previous events.
Ru Weerasuriya, the chief creative officer and CEO of Ready at Dawn Studios. His company recently announced the zany De-formers arena-combat game. It previously created high-profile games such as The Order: 1886, Daxter, and God of War: Chains of Olympus. He cofounded Ready At Dawn Studios in 2003, and he has more than 100 employees.
Peter Moore, the chief competition officer of Electronic Arts. Moore will speak about where esports is heading. Moore is a former pro soccer player, and so he understands the emotion and passion around sports. He believes that esports can be every bit as exciting as televised physical sports. He was previously chief operating officer of EA, and he also served in executive roles at Microsoft’s Xbox division and Sega of America.
David Baszucki, the founder, co-creator, and CEO of Roblox
Roblox is like a virtual world made from Lego-like blocks where players can build anything and even create their own games. A pioneer in pushing the boundaries of the imagination, Baszucki has helped champion millions of young and up-and-coming developers in the video game industry via the Roblox platform. He’ll be part of a panel on our AR/VR day on August 1, focusing on the topic of user-generated VR.
Clinton Foy, managing director and general partner at CrossCut Ventures
Foy is managing director of an early-stage venture capital firm in Los Angeles. Foy is also the chairman and co-owner of the pro esports team The Immortals, which just bought a Brazilian Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team. Foy has deep experience in running game and tech companies, including gaming giant Square Enix (where he was chief operating officer and general counsel) and Super Evil Megacorp. Foy has led investments in Mobcrush, Vulcun, Little Labs, and Instant Esports. In seven years at Square Enix, Foy oversaw more than 100 product launches across a dozen platforms.
Mike Sepso, senior vice president for Activision Blizzard
Sepso was the cofounder of MLG, which Activision Blizzard acquired last year. Now he focuses on esports and runs Media Networks, a division devoted to creating the best esports experiences for fans across games, platforms, and geographies at one of the world’s largest video game companies.
Sepso played a key role at MLG, focusing on strategy, key partnerships, corporate development, and product and technology development.
He’ll be one of the speakers at our AR/VR day, which will focus on strategy for the augmented reality and virtual reality markets. Marks’ topic for his fireside chat is “What works in VR and what doesn’t.” He should know, as he is one of VR’s pioneers, recently running the Sony PlayStation Magic Lab that came up with the PlayStation VR technology. Sony is making a major investment in PlayStation VR and plans to launch it in October.
David Haddad, president of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Haddad spoke last year at our inaugural GamesBeat Summit event, and we’re happy to have him back. Haddad was appointed to his current post in October 2015. In this role, he is responsible for all aspects of WBIE’s overall operations, including publishing, operations, sales, marketing, digital/mobile games, business development, and game production.
Under Haddad’s oversight, WBIE creates games across all platforms utilizing its wholly owned, award-winning development studios: TT Games, Rocksteady Studios, NetherRealm Studios, Monolith Productions, Turbine, WB Games Montreal, and WB Games San Francisco. Last year, Warner Bros. had its most successful year ever with a number of hit games, including Mortal Kombat X on console and mobile and Batman: Arkham Knight, Lego Jurassic World, and Lego Dimensions.
Lego Marvel’s Avengers launched in January 2016, and the highly anticipated Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens launched on June 28, 2016. As the head of WBIE, Haddad also serves on the board of the Entertainment Software Association. Haddad joined Warner Bros. in 2013 as head of digital publishing.
Kevin Chou, CEO of Kabam
Chou runs Kabam, a maker of free-to-play mobile games such as Marvel: Contest of Champions. He cofounded a company in 2006 that morphed into Kabam in 2009. And since that time, he has navigated the difficult currents of the ultra-competitive game industry. By 2014, Kabam had grown to hundreds of employees and more than $400 million in revenue, with a valuation in excess of $1 billion. More recently, Chou has tried to take the lead in disruption, and he has focused Kabam around fewer, bigger games. He has secured licenses with Hollywood studios such as Disney, Lionsgate, MGM, NBCUniversal, Paramount, and Warner Brothers for games based on some of the world’s most beloved movie franchises.
Last year, Chou launched a multipartner effort to take Marvel: Contest of Champions into the Chinese market. And most recently, Marvel: Contest of Champions hit the No. 1 game in downloads in China.
Roy Taylor, corporate vice president of alliances at AMD
Taylor is a seasoned veteran of the video game and semiconductor industries. He is currently an expert in AMD’s relations with major retailers and specialty retailers, and he’s an advocate for gaming content and VR that runs on AMD platforms. He previously held senior positions at Rightware, MasterIMage 3D, and Nvidia.
Jason Rubin, head of Oculus Studios
Rubin runs the team at Facebook’s Oculus division that creates, funds, and works with developers to build first-party games and experiences for the Oculus Rift VR headset and the Samsung Gear VR. Rubin’s job is to create exciting entertainment that will draw consumers to the new platforms.
A 30-year veteran of game development, Rubin was the cofounder of Naughty Dog, where he created the hit games Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter. He also cofounded the media mashup tool Fleeter, which he sold to Fox Interactive, and he was president of THQ. He spoke at GamesBeat 2015 about how VR is the toughest learning curve in games.
Peter Levin, president of Lionsgate Interactive Ventures & Games
Levin joined Lionsgate as president of interactive ventures and games in 2014. He is responsible for expanding Lionsgate’s content creation into video games and other interactive ventures, including incubation of new properties, investment in existing games and digital media vehicles, and leveraging Lionsgate’s franchises and other branded properties into the gaming space.
It’s no accident that Lionsgate has announced a bunch of game-related deals, such as planting the seeds for an esports TV show and backing Hong Kong game studio Fifth Journey. He has been a frequent speaker at our GamesBeat events.
Keighley is a seasoned game broadcaster and host of The Game Awards. The event last December drew 2.3 million viewers for a two-hour awards show. Keighley came to our event a year ago and interviewed Jason Rubin of Oculus Studios. He has been writing about games since he was 13.
Who should attend?
Our advisory board for this event includes:
- Michael Chang, senior vice president of corporate development at NCSoft West
- Greg Essig, head of business development at Mobcrush
- Megan Gaiser, senior creative leader and strategist; principal at Contagious Creativity
- Perrin Kaplan, principal at Zebra Partners
- Ophir Lupu, head of games at United Talent Agency
- Wanda Meloni, executive director at the Open Gaming Alliance
- Ali Moiz, CEO at Vulcun
- Maarten Noyons, CEO of the International Mobile Gaming Awards
- Ian Sharpe, CEO of Azubu
- Mike Vorhaus, president of Magid Advisors
- Sunny Dhillon, partner at Signia Venture Partners
- Alejandro Manchado, strategic partner development lead at Google
- Daniel Cho, chairman of Innospark
- Mike Capps, former president of Epic Games
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