Maybe we can learn about gaming’s future by looking at its past. That’s why we’re excited to announced that our closing speaker at our GamesBeat 2016 event in Los Angeles next week will be Tom Kalinske, the chairman of online game firm Gazillion and the former president of Sega of America. Kalinske is best known for introducing Sonic the Hedgehog to the U.S. during his stint running the Japanese company’s U.S. operations.
You can register for the event here. Check out the new agenda here.
Kalinske is one of the memorable characters of the game industry whose exploits as the president and CEO of Sega of America have been retold in books and movies. After a long break, he rejoined the game industry as chairman of Gazillion, maker of Marvel Heroes 2016.
He is also executive chairman of Global Education Learning and one of the founders of the company. GEL is involved in acquiring companies in China focused on improving education for young children 2-7. Tom is on the board of Cambium Learning Group, an education company supplying curriculum for kids with special needs. He also served leadership roles at Leapfrog, Mattel, and Knowledge Universe.
From 1990 to 1996, Kalinske ran Sega of America. During that time, the parent company’s market value of Sega grew from under $2 billion to over $5 billion. A book “Console Wars”, by Blake Harris, tells the story of how Nintendo had a 98 percent share of market in 1990, but Sega, under Tom’s leadership, passed Nintendo in share by 1993. A documentary film has been shot and Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Scott Rudin (Money Ball, Social Network, Captain Phillips) have purchased the feature film rights.
I will moderate the fireside chat with Kalinske.
Our theme is “The platform awakens: A new hope for the game industry.”
Our previously announced speakers include:
Neville Spiteri, CEO of Wever, maker of the virtual reality experience TheBlu. As one of the top software engineers and creative executives in the industry, Spiteri has been at the forefront of interactive storytelling throughout his career, directly influencing the future of virtual reality.
Prior to founding Wevr, Spiteri served as the producer and senior development director at Electronic Arts, where he began to explore the world of interactive storytelling while leading the technology and production teams for five years. Earlier in his career, Spiteri was the director of product management on the ground floor team at EMC|Greenplum (now Pivotal), where he first met his Wevr co-founders, Anthony Batt and Scott Yara.
Spiteri’s initial interest in VR was sparked when he read Howard Rheingold’s book, Virtual Reality, in 1991. He still owns the original copy today. Spiteri replaces Rikard Steiber of HTC, who had to drop out of GamesBeat 2016.
Michael Metzger, a senior vice president at Houlihan Lokey. He provides M&A and financing advisory services to media, internet, and technology companies. He previously worked at Covert & Co.
Sean Haran is the publishing and business development lead for Riot Games North America. He leads a team dedicated to supporting the massive League of Legends community through marketing, social media and live event efforts that highlight the diversity and passion of its players. Haran oversees partnerships and identifies emerging opportunities to support the League community, including its University League of Legends (uLoL) program. He has more than 15 years of experience in both the video game and entertainment industry, including a stint at Marvel Entertainment, where he was a leader in their successful console, mobile and PC game licensing business.
Taylor Cocke, an esports analyst, writer, and video personality. He specializes primarily in League of Legends, but also covers Hearthstone, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. He currently creates content for Yahoo Esports as a part of Yahoo Sports. He has also done work for IGN, Red Bull Esports, and Riot Games.
Nathan Stewart, global franchise director for Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast. He joined Wizards of the Coast in 2012 to help lead the franchise into the future by expanding the brand blueprint into videogames, movies and new entertainment. Previously, he has worked on other big game brands such as Xbox, Grand Theft Auto, Madden Football, Pac-Man and more.
Brian Fargo, CEO of InXile Entertainment. Fargo founded Interplay Productions in 1983 and quickly became renowned as one of the most successful video game developers of the ’80s and ’90s, and the driving force behind some of gaming’s most iconic properties including The Bard’s Tale, Battle Chess, Wasteland, Fallout, Baldur’s Gate, Torment and more. After leaving Interplay and founding inXile Entertainment in 2002, Brian became an innovator in video game crowdfunding and development, securing over $8 million on Kickstarter across three titles.
David Reid, CEO of MetaArcade. He is bringing back another game from D&D‘s shadow — Tunnels & Trolls, a more accessible RPG that saw a paper-and-pen rebirth in the 2000s. But Reid’s MetaArcade will give it a digital platform, though more as a choose your own adventure-style experience than a full game. Reid is a long-time veteran of the video games business, with over 15 years of executive leadership in online games publishing and marketing at Xbox, NCsoft, Trion Worlds, CCP Games, and Motiga.
Mike Minotti is the community manager at GamesBeat, but he also handles plenty of writing duties. Unlike all of those fancy guys covering video games from San Francisco, Mike reports on the industry from the magical land of Ohio. He’s also up to speed on a wide variety of games.
Gio Hunt, executive vice president of corporate operations at Blizzard Entertainment, provides leadership for the integrated marketing, human resources, legal, and business development teams. He joined Blizzard in 2013 as chief of staff, and he has been instrumental in helping the company’s senior leadership team improve the operations of its global business. He played a key role in developing the company’s franchise planning process and has also led several key partnership initiatives. He has had a 25-year career, starting in law.
Perrin Kaplan, principal at Zebra Partners and former head of marketing at Nintendo of America. She helped launch everything from the original Pokemon to the Wii game console.
Meghan “Strawburry17” Camarena, who has more than a million subscribers on her YouTube channel. Her videos have more than 100 million views. As an actress, gamer, blogger, comedian, and YouTube, she hosts and produces a variety of video shows about her daily adventures. She has gaming videos on her Strawburry17Plays channel, day-in-the-life videos on Lifeburry, and starred in the hit CBS show, The Amazing Race. She also played Rapwnzel in the web comedy series, Video Game High School.
Dave Moss, host at Smosh Games. Known as “Lasercorn,” Moss has been playing video games on YouTube since 2010. He is a host on Smosh Games, a personality-driven channel with more than 2 million subscribers. Some of his favorite games include the Portal franchise, Overwatch, and Resident Evil 2.
Noah Whinston, the 21-year-old CEO of The Immortals, a professional esports team that includes some of the best players in the world for Counter-Strike:Global Offensive and League of Legends. He dropped out of college and developed expertise in data-driven sports betting. Now he’s the cofounder and CEO of a team with an all-star roster of investors, including CrossCut Ventures managing director Clinton Foy.
Tammy Levy, the director of product at Kongregate; Greg Canessa, the senior vice president of GSN Games; Chris Heatherly, the senior vice president of Disney Mobile Games; and David Pokress, the senior vice president of monetization and publisher relations at AdColony. These aforementioned speakers will talk about monetization and retention.
Sunny Dhillon, partner at Signia Venture Partners. Dhillon is focused on a variety of new technologies, including games and virtual reality.
Phil Sanderson, general partner at IDG Ventures in San Francisco. He focuses on investments in gaming, music technology, ecommerce, search and adtech. He also recently ran a 100-mile race. Among his game investments are Telltale Games, Next Games, Mastermind Studios, and Free Range Games.
Alice Lloyd George, associate at RRE Ventures. She works on emerging technologies such as the blockchain, machine intelligence and computer vision, robotics, virtual and augmented reality, and NewSpace. She appears regularly on Fox Business, was Forbes 30 under 30 (2016) and Marc Andreessen calls her “one of the unknown rockstars in tech.” Before joining RRE Alice worked in investments at Bridgewater Associates, and in a prior life she lived in Beijing conducting research as a Brookings Institute fellow. Alice began her career at The Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong, where she reported on business and politics across Asia.
Marco DeMiroz, cofounder and general manager at the Venture Reality Fund. The San Francisco fund recently raised $50 million to invest in virtual reality and augmented reality startups. He was previously CEO of PlayFirst, the maker of the Diner Dash series of games, played by more than 550 million people. It was recently acquired by Glu Mobile.
Margaret Wallace, the chief executive of Playmatics. She was named one of Forbes “12 Women in Gaming to Watch,” and in 2014, she was highlighted by Fortune as one of “10 Powerful Women in Video Games.“ An entrepreneur with a strong focus on innovation, brands, and original intellectual property, she has built and expanded Playmatics across multiple sectors to combine games with film, digital media, and television.
Rick Johnson, a cofounder at CastAR, which is making AR glasses for tabletop games and other entertaining applications. He started the company as Technical Illusions along with Jeri Ellsworth. Both Johnson and Ellsworth worked at Valve Software. Johnson also worked in software at Gearbox Software, Activision, and Raven Software.
Nick Beliaeff, the vice president of production at Spin Master. His company is making a game, Air Hogs Connect, that integrates a smartphone with an AR drone that flies over a digital battlefield. He aims to bridge the gap from physical play to digital play. He was previously principal at Game Concordium, the senior vice president of development at Trion Worlds, and studio manager at Sony Online Entertainment.
Pramod Sharma, the CEO of Osmo, a maker of the toy-game hybrids that take advantage of the iPad and its camera. Osmo has grown to 40 people on the strength of multiple titles that reinvent the way children learn by using the iPad camera to recognize physical objects placed before it. The company’s most recent game is Osmo Coding, which teaches young kids the principles of computer programming. Sharma previously worked at Google, where he held a variety of roles from engineer to senior product manager.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Jay Eum, managing director at Translink Capital
- 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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