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Glu Mobile moved into a brand new headquarters in San Francisco recently, with much of its staff together under one roof in a move that is meant to reflect its unified creative culture. The publisher of mobile games such as Design Home and Covet Fashion is now focused on rapid prototyping and simpler operations.

Earlier this month, Glu reported its revenue in the fourth quarter of 2017 was $80.2 million, up 73 percent from a year earlier, and its net loss was $39.5 million, compared to a loss of $17.2 million a year earlier. If you take out the one-time charges, the company was profitable before taxes on a quarterly basis. Glu’s turnaround isn’t quite complete, but it’s a far more efficient company today than it was a couple of years ago, said Nick Earl, CEO of Glu, in an interview with GamesBeat. (Earl will do a fireside chat at GamesBeat Summit 2018 on April 9-10 in Berkeley.)

Glu has changed since Earl became CEO 15 months ago, replacing longtime boss Niccolo De Masi. The company had 548 employees in the fourth quarter, down from a peak of about 850 a couple of years ago.

“We’ve closed quite a few studios. We sold a couple of things. We’ve tightened up our central group that Tim Wilson used to run,” Earl said. “We put that all under Chris. We’ve combined it and made it a much more efficient, productive group.”


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Glu has also remade its portfolio of mobile games. It has focused on the business of Design Home and Covet Fashion, two games aimed at women that were created by Crowdstar, which Glu acquired in 2016. The company is far less focused on the social celebrity games based on superstars such as Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is still generating revenue, but the revenue guarantees promised to celebrities on other less-successful games were hurting Glu’s profits enormously, Early said.

I interviewed Earl and chief revenue officer Chris Akhavan at the company’s new digs. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

Above: Glu leaders Chris Akhavan (left) and Nick Earl sit in one of the meeting spots in Glu’s new HQ.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Nick Earl: When all the teams are co-located, you get so many benefits from sharing resources and ideas. They energize each other, spur each other on, help each other out. We’ll get that by having three of the five studios here. We’ll still have the sports guys down in San Mateo and the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood group in Toronto.

Chris Akhavan: At the peak I think we had 12 or 13 offices around the world. It’s really gotten focused. We’re just under 600 now.

GamesBeat: Where is that relative to historical peaks?

Earl: The peak was around 850. Close to 900. That was two years ago, when I joined. We’ve closed quite a few studios. We sold a couple of things. We’ve tightened up our central group that Tim Wilson used to run. We put that all under Chris. We’ve combined it and made it a much more efficient, productive group. That’s brought us down to the high 500s.

We’ll probably see a bit of growth, but I’m a big believer in simplifying the business, not having too much complexity. When you create logistical and structural complexity you just make it harder on yourself. I like the notion of being smaller, more streamlined. We’ve gotten down to the games and the live services that we want to keep going, and we’re building things we believe can be growth games, really be additive to where the business is.

We’re getting rid of all the rest. That’s one reason why we did this big impairment with all the celebrities. We want to move beyond that. It’s been kind of our label, but more important, it’s just not been a great bet, other than Kim Kardashian. She’s exceptional in many ways. The rest did not work out, Katy and Britney and Nicki.

Above: Kim Kardashian: Hollywood gives you the chance to play the game of fame.

Image Credit: Glu Mobile

GamesBeat: The thinking seemed pretty interesting. Their social followings should have lightened that cost of advertisement.

Earl: Very understandable, how Niccolo led that. Anyone would have done that. But as it turns out — and this is why this business is challenging — you can have all the elements logically put together, but the results don’t pan out. Where the mistake was, probably, after trying a couple he kept going at it. We probably should have done one or two experiments, and after they failed—Nicki and Britney and the rest just don’t translate. Kim happens to.

Akhavan: Those were also cases where the company decided, “Let’s go do a Katy Perry game and figure out what the game is.” Now that’s changed dramatically. We start with a strong creative leader who builds a great prototype. If we want a license for it, the prototype informs the license we want, versus going off and getting a license and figuring out what to do with.

Earl: And letting the creative leader define what they want to do. The product direction does not come from this office. It used to, but it doesn’t anymore. I’m about bringing in great people, like Mike Olsen. “Mike, what do you want to do?” As long as it’s entertainment-oriented and it’s on the phone, they can do what they want. Chris and Eric’s job, and my job, is to create a little bit of uniformity or purposeful direction out of all the componentry and support them. Their job is to create greatness.

I always say, we’re in the back office and they’re on the field. We work for them and not vice versa. Technically they report to me, but in practice this is just the way I ran things at Redwood Shores. I work for them. They’re the stars. When I had Neil working for me doing Lord of the Rings, all I ever did was figure out a way to get Neil what he needed, help him strategize and build that business. That was a fantastic business. We had it going for three or four years. It’s very much the same approach here, which it hadn’t been before.

GamesBeat: I guess the tough thing is that the business changes so much. Different companies are executing many different strategies. If you try to copy Supercell, that’s pretty hard to do.

Earl: There are great things about Supercell that we do copy. I love their egoless culture, the fact that people don’t take things personally, that people are very transparent and honest. Like Ilkka says, “I’m the weakest CEO, the least powerful CEO you could ever imagine.” I love that about them. I’ve studied that. A lot of those elements we try to borrow here. Get the ego out and let’s just do what’s right for the business. Let’s support the creative process. But you’re right. No one can be Supercell except Supercell.

GamesBeat: They have such small teams, five to 15 people.

Earl: Mike’s team, the guys doing Disney, that team will only be 20. They’ll have some art resources that we use in Hyderabad, but they’re only 20 people. Very much the same idea. We have some big teams, but they’re the content furnaces. The system-oriented games, like what Mike’s building, we can go to smaller team sizes, more muscular, leveraging more central stuff that we’ve built.

Above: Glu Mobile’s big games.

Image Credit: Glu

GamesBeat: Supposing I’m running a game company, I’d be very fearful of doing the Supercell thing where you kill three games out of four.

Earl: It’s scary when you’re public. The markets expect this pipeline. That’s a big change for us. One of the things that allows us to kill stuff along the way is we no longer depend on launches in order to keep the lights on. We have now hit this level of profitability without launching anything new. We’re not forced into making bad decisions. Public companies generally get forced into that. At EA we were forced to launch games ahead of their time. In the later years we stopped doing that because you realize you’re just shooting yourself in the foot. They made some smart delays.

But now we’re in a place where—we’ll launch baseball at the end of this quarter. That’s a no-brainer. This is the fifth year. We know that’ll be good. We should be good for WWE because it’s the same team working on the same engine. That said, if it’s not ready to go we don’t have to launch it in June. We could wait until September or even the following January and still be profitable. We’ve reached this equilibrium that we’ve not had before. That’s been life-giving for us.

Akhavan: We killed multiple products in beta last year, which is the first time Glu’s done that in many years.

Earl: Yeah. And we’ll be killing more.

GamesBeat: Were there some things you picked up from Kabam?

Earl: Tons. So many.

Above: Glu has a lot of gathering spaces in its wide-open HQ in San Francisco.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: I enjoyed doing that story where they talked about how it used to be a goal to get into the top 100, but then they realized things were getting so competitive, the market was changing so much, that you had to get into the top 10. You couldn’t do 10 games anymore.

Earl: By definition, yeah. I was there for the launch of Contest of Champions, and that was the most defining game in the history of the company. What I learned from Kevin and that group was their ability to dissect what drives LTV. In our business, it’s all about the multiple of LTV to CPI. You can have a low CPI and a relatively low LTV, and if you have cash you can make a business out of it. If you have high CPI but high LTV, like MZ, you can pile up cash and make a business out of it. And everywhere in between. But when they invert, there is no there.

What I learned at Kabam — when I got there we were just starting this kind of journey – was a deep dive into the machinery of LTV, the anatomical level of LTV. We studied it and had a ton of data from all the games that Mike was doing in China. We figured out what were the three main components of LTV. That, to me, was my MBA. I feel like I went to undergrad when I was running EA Mobile, but I went to business school at Kabam.

GamesBeat: EA and Kabam were very different?

Earl: So different. Culturally, the methodology, from a large portfolio to just basically one thing—the deconstruction of LTV was never understood at EA. EA’s not a handset company in any way. They’re just not mobile.

GamesBeat: I remember when EA went from 900 games down to 40?

Above: The main eating area and company meeting gathering space at Glu.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Earl: Frank and I, we had to cut back the whole games label. We went from 90 launches a year to something like 18 as a company over that two-year period. That fewer-bigger-better is another thing I’ve adopted here. This, to me, is the greatest hits of my career — things from Kabam, from EA, from all the other companies I’ve been associated with or know about. Things I feel have worked out.

Working with Chris and Eric, we try to match it best to this culture. But the one thing this company was screaming for is the ability to go and pursue the areas of passion. Having creative freedom to go and deliver on the dream that the team has. As opposed to being a command and control, the guy in the corner office decides what this studio is going to do. These guys do the card game and those guys do the sports game. That just doesn’t work.

GamesBeat: I always thought Glu had some interesting advantages over folks like Supercell or King or MZ in that they had that portfolio opportunity. Portfolios make sense in so much of the rest of the game business. I’m not sure why, in mobile, it hasn’t come to dominate.

Earl: You have to be at one end or the other. Either have a portfolio and have infrastructure to support great user acquisition, targeted acquisition, business intelligence, advertising—you have that whole publishing side. Or you have to be the extreme opposite and work out of your kitchen and do one game with very targeted UA via Facebook. With a very low-overhead approach you can make money and build that way.

The guys in the middle are the ones — like Crowdstar. Crowdstar was just not working until they joined us, joined a bigger system. Then they leveraged all of Chris’s organization. Chris runs all the revenue side, BI and UA and advertising. They didn’t have any of that. They were great at building product, but they didn’t have the other side. A lot of the medium-sized companies have a couple of products, but they don’t have the scale to have that central component. That’s what we’ve been able to add.

We love being a portfolio. We have games that appeal to men, women, teenagers, people in their twilight years.

Above: Glu Mobile’s Design Home.

Image Credit: Glu Mobile

Akhavan: We’re still actively running UA on 10 titles. We’re still a healthy portfolio.

Earl: The ones that have really broken out — Design Home, Covet, baseball, we think WWE will join that – those are the ones we really just get behind and drive them. If Disney’s a legit hit and WWE’s a legit hit, we’ll really get behind those. Maybe those will pull away from the pack and we’ll start to separate the smaller ones and move those to Hyderabad, look for a better low-cost solution. But I love the portfolio. It’s great for right now. Maybe one day in the future we’ll just be doing one or two or three things, but that’s far off, if that happens.

GamesBeat: It strikes me as an interesting period, where the Zyngas and EAs and Disneys are not the biggest companies in mobile games. It’s these very strange anomalies like Supercell or King. MZ, maybe not anymore?

Earl: They’ve fallen off. They’ve kind of lost their way, for whatever reason. For a while, absolutely. My theory is that only a few companies have figured out how to build LTV. MZ absolutely did. Supercell knows how to do that. King has a game where they’ve really uplifted their LTV, which explains — along with an incredibly high DAU — why their revenues keep going up. Kabam had it. I think we’re just now getting to it in pockets. We’re starting to distill that around the entire company, which is why we’re all trying to be under one roof, so we can learn more and faster.

But EA doesn’t have that LTV deconstruction knowledge. Zynga, I think — if they have it, it’s in pockets. They haven’t figured out how to build it across the company. I hope they do, because I want Zynga to do well. I want the sector to do better. Zynga and Glu are the only two western public pure mobile companies anymore. We root for each other. Obviously I worked with Frank forever. But that’s my read.

GamesBeat: I generally root for this area, too. I want San Francisco to be the big place for games. I’ve had some worries about that over time, as different companies become successful elsewhere in the world.

Above: Covet Fashion has introduced more than 50 different types of female body types for its fashion app.

Image Credit: CrowdStar/Glu

Earl: Yeah, you want the epicenter here. I could not agree more. That’s why, hopefully, Zynga and Glu — we can complete our turnarounds and come back strong. We’re both trying to figure out how you take this fragile business model of in-app purchases, these million raindrops you’re trying to catch every day, and reform that into an annuity. Investors hate the raindrops, but they love that firehose annuity that you can count on every month or quarter or year.

We’re in the process of figuring out how we can normalize and formalize those million purchases we get every day that are really precarious, if you look at each individual one, but collectively create this very predictable, sustainable revenue. As we’ve figured out the cost side of the business, now we’re profitable at probably $280 million, which was not the case just recently. Now we can create a healthy business and use that to drive the stock price, which drives currency, plus our cash position and our lack of debt gives us a nice balance sheet to be able to continue doing what we’re doing, as well as acquiring other small groups like Crowdstar. That’s generally the picture of what we’re trying to do here.

We had a great opportunity. There were some incredibly strong components of Glu. It just wasn’t being put together in the right way. The management team has come together in the last year to find a great strategy. More important, we’ve created the cultural underpinnings of a successful, enduring company by adopting a set of values that ring true in the way we operate, creating a purpose for the company in how we enrich the lives of the people here. People have rallied around that. You get that extra energy.

That’s been the story of 2017. It was a good year fiscally, but I’m most proud of the cultural change. That sets us up for the long term.

GamesBeat: Crowdstar, is it really on to something with this particular slice of the market?

Earl: We think so, this kind of lifestyle app. It’s a very basic core loop. You build either a paper doll or a room, and you submit it for voting, and it gets voted up or down. Depending on where you end up you get rewards for that. It’s really simple. There’s no metagame. It’s obviously struck a nerve, in a good way, that we can have close to a $100 million game in just the room-building and a $50 million game in the paper dolls.

Imagine what happens if we add a full metagame to that, build out some AR features, and culturalize for other markets like western Europe. We can do targeted UA based on that and build up the new user flow, because it’s a little punishing to get into the experience. There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit to take those to the next level. They’ve absolutely caught on to something. The fact that they can get to be a $140 million business in those two games based entirely on that core loop — there’s no depth at all. There’s a ton of low-hanging fruit for both.

Above: Design Home has been downloaded more than 30 million times in a year.

Image Credit: Glu

GamesBeat: How do you run with that particular opportunity, but also avoid what you had with following Kim Kardashian?

Earl: What you do is, instead of going laterally — with Kim what we did is we just left the business like that and went laterally. We did all these other ones. We just moved out to the right and to the left. The answer is to go vertically, to go really deep with Design Home, figure out what the metagame needs to be, do augmented reality, culturalize for overseas. Let’s not do an office version of Design Home, or a dog version of Covet Fashion. That’s going laterally. You compound that by giving these enormous minimum guarantees. It doesn’t work.

We’ve found that people want to dress up their paper dolls, their models, and they want to dress up a room. So let’s go really deep on that experience. Let’s turn those into 15-year live services.

Akhavan: That’s the opportunity the company really missed with Kim. That was an opportunity to go really deep on that game, which was already a huge hit, instead of getting distracted with all these other celebrity titles.

Earl: And paying out enormous minimum guarantees. Now we don’t have those, which are very hard from a margin perspective and lock up all our cash. Now we’re fighting past that. We have a healthy balance sheet. The only MGs we have now is for things we know we’ll recoup – baseball, WWE, and Disney. We’re done with the whole celebrity thing. It’s liberating. It’s culturally liberating and it’s fiscally liberating.

Here’s the story. Kim, in her fourth year, is starting to go back up again. It’s crushing. What is it about her that in year four that business is going up and to the right? In June it’ll be four years. It’s really impressive. She’s impressive. She makes it really easy for her partners to make her rich. What a gift. If you’re going to be born with a gift, that’s a good one. So many of these celebrities have made it so hard for us to make them wealthy. That’s a great story.

Above: A place for Glu employees to relax.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: I was looking at EA and their troubles with loot crates on the Star Wars game. It’s starting to look like gamers were finally paying attention to what EA was saying to the financial analysts. They’re saying, “Don’t worry, we’ll bring loot crates back and it’ll monetize like crazy.” The investors loved that message, but then gamers look at that and say, “Wait. We paid for this game already.”

Earl: That’s it. They paid for the game already. It’s different from the freemium model. EA, in its typical way, tried to take a premium model and add freemium on top of it. They wanted to eat their cake and have it too. We’re just in the cake business. We’ll give this away for free. 90 out of 100 people don’t pay. 10 of those pay and then one of them pays a lot.

GamesBeat: So it’s not something to navigate there? It’s more that you just have to know the audience.

Earl: Exactly. Know the audience. Our audience is fine with loot boxes. There are a few little things we have to do that Apple has asked us to do, which is fine. It’s easy for us to do. We’re not in the business of tricking people. We only hurt ourselves, because people figure that out. People are smart. They’ll stop the stream of in-app purchases.

We’re in the business of creating high value, short burst experiences that allow people to escape for a few minutes, really focus for a few minutes, get that serotonin reward for a few minutes, and then go on for the rest of the day. In a few hours they come back and get more. That business is based on this gacha mechanic, or loot boxes. That works. It’s proven to work for years. Our shareholders at Tencent were a pioneering firm around that. Does it work with a game you bought for $60? Maybe not.

Companies like EA are always going to be looking for ways to drive revenue, and on paper — I can imagine it. I’ve been in those meetings at Redwood Shores. I know exactly what that meeting was like. “Why can’t we do this with this and get this?” That decree went out to the teams, and the teams — it doesn’t matter what the team said. They were told to go do it. I was in that system for a long time and I know how it works. Then it comes back and I’m sure it was a total mess.

For us it’s very different. We’re in a different place. Our games are free. Honestly, it is a reminder that we have to be very thoughtful about our ecosystem. We have to be thoughtful about the customer. If they go away, we go away. From that perspective, we don’t take it lightly. We’re very respectful of hearing feedback like that. We try to listen and drive an experience where they’re excited to keep doing what they’re doing. Some of them pay thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, each year in these games. That’s the magic of our model.

GamesBeat: Somewhere in there was a worry that these business models would lead to fewer original games. If companies were so fat and happy making money from existing games, they’d be less motivated to take the risk of creating original content. Or it would make less business sense to take a talented team and let them make something original instead of an established IP.

Earl: There’s some truth to it. We always think twice about doing something new versus a license or something existing. From a UA perspective we’d think about that. That said, there will always be these small upstarts who innovate their way to the top of the charts. We’re going to see new games, for sure. If you look at our portfolio, we have just as many new games as we have existing licenses that we’re building. We now have the financial freedom to go take some chances. I do think you’ll see some of that, but you’ll see a counter to it as well. The healthier company is, the more chances they can take.

Above: Glu’s new headquarters covers a couple of floors in a San Francisco building.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Akhavan: Beyond the new games we’ve talked about, we also have a lot of prototyping efforts across the company, which used to not happen at all. In the past we would have a studio put together a Powerpoint: “I want to make this game.” “Okay, go ahead and spend the next 18 months making that game with no prototyping or exploration phase.” Now we have many active prototyping efforts underway.

Earl: For new games and just for new features in existing games. It’s been a real change here. Again, that’s part of the process that makes sense for the creative company that we’ve become. In the future, that’ll just be table stakes, but right now it’s been a big change.

GamesBeat: Do you feel like you can breathe a bit of a sigh of relief at the moment?

Earl: Yeah, I can, and that’s not around the fiscal results, although they were great considering that we were intending to have a major loss last year from a non-GAP perspective. We ended up basically breaking even. I celebrate the cultural change, and the fact that the company — the company came up with the cultural change. We all worked together and we’ve adopted it with such alacrity. That’s what I celebrate.

Everyone out there is working out there based on our values. As long as they’re doing that, they’ll achieve great things. I’m convinced. That’s about respecting each other, in the way we interact. That’s about winning together, celebrating together. That’s about learning and teaching. That’s about moving in an agile fashion. If everyone there operates under those every day, this company will be successful. I’m convinced of it. That’s a sigh of relief.

With that said, there’s no rest for us. We’ll power on. We have a lot of work to do here to turn this into a bona fide successful company. But this year is a year where we’ll post significant profitability, and next year, as we go into the next level — we have this amazing slate, including Mike’s Disney game and a couple of other things that are unannounced. Then we get into more of the elite status, and as long as we don’t let ego and arrogance creep in — and I’ll make sure we don’t — I feel we can be that enduring company, that great company.

Maybe one day people will be talking about Supercell and Glu. Different types of companies, but both held in high esteem for what they’ve done. That’s my goal. My goal is to create something great here. It’s not to make money. This is about creating something enduring that is a facility to pay back, to all the people here, the good fortune I’ve had working at the companies I’ve worked for, Kabam and EA in particular. I’d love for everyone here in the future to say, “My time at Glu, whether it was a year or 12 years, was the best thing I ever did. That company gave me and my family and so much. My career accelerated. I learned and made friends and had some financial benefit.”

That motivates me beyond anything. I feel like the only way to do that is to make something enduring. Not just a flash in the pan financial success, like MZ coming up out of nowhere and then going away. I want something steady, enduring, and long term.

GamesBeat: How do you view some of the talent that you want to either groom or bring in or foster here? I know the Crowdstar people — some of those leaders turned over, right? After they were sold.

Earl: Two of them, yeah. There are about 10 at the top. The former CEO we didn’t invite to join, because it wouldn’t have been a culture fit. The marketing head, we ultimately decided that it would be better if she — we mutually decided it would be a better fit if she went and did something else. The others stayed and are absolutely delivering unbelievable, spectacular results.

Not everyone is going to fit in a post-merger integration. We all know that. I think we got the best talent out of that contingency that grew. And in terms of grooming other talent here, that’s really what we’re all about. Whether it’s investing in people who are currently here or trying to find more.

Getting Mike Olsen — you obviously knew Mike from EA. He was the creative director on Tiger Woods. Do you remember back in 2001-2002, when Tiger was sort of a boring golf simulation with the swing meter? It was maybe a $20 million business. No one knew about it. What Mike did as the creative director on that — he worked for Dave DeMartini, who was then the executive producer — was he built in the gamification, including the analog swing and all the cool features. It went from a $20 million annual business to $130 million. That was all under Mike.

Then Mike went and did The Godfather. He was the creative director there. He did a couple of mobile games. He did Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes. He’s been like a brother to me. Galaxy of Heroes was a great achievement. But he was not in a system that was rewarding him for that. Getting him to come here gave him an opportunity to not only express himself, but also reap the rewards of his effort. At the same time, it injects this incredible new culture in the company.

Inasmuch as we can find another Mike Olsen or two, we will absolutely do that. If they’re not out there, we have plenty of talent with which to work, both on the publishing, revenue side of the business as well as the studio side of the business. That’s part of the path we’re on. The only question is the speed and the cadence of it, not the fact that we’re on the right path. It’s just how fast it happens. We had a very accelerated year last year. We sped up our move to profitability from what was going to be the third quarter of this year to the fourth quarter of last year. We sped up the cultural transition in a way that — now we can breathe that sigh of relief that it’s done.

Above: Glu is focused on going big with fewer games.

Image Credit: Glu

GamesBeat: I thought Brian Fargo’s initiative sounded interesting, talking about using blockchain to eventually disrupt the app stores.

Earl: Brian’s a great lateral thinker. His model sounds a little like Trip’s, with 3DO, of which Brian was a big supporter when he was running Interplay. That’s Brian’s mentality. He approaches it with more modern technology. What else is going on in the mobile space that seems interesting to you?

GamesBeat: Well, MZ has dropped off, like you said. It seems that Game of War and Mobile Strike hit their peaks and were being propped up by spending, and then they shifted all that to Final Fantasy, which didn’t have the legs.

Earl: True. Those games were really milking you. People just burned out. Slow and steady wins out. If you look at Clash of Clans, that’s slow and steady. Game of War was burning at both ends.

Akhavan: Games like that, if you lose some key clans, the losses are so quick. They all tend to migrate off together.

Earl: And then they moved their users to a lower margin business that hasn’t been able to….

GamesBeat: Yeah. I don’t know what they’re going to do. They must still have a lot of money.

Earl: But it’s not an enduring company. I’d rather have a company that does reasonably well for a long time, that you can build up and use as a vehicle and a platform to do all the things we were talking about, as opposed to just making a ton of money and getting out. That’s just not our mentality. That’s why I like Supercell. They’re aiming for the long term.

GamesBeat: And they admire Blizzard in turn.

Earl: Who personifies it better than Blizzard? Decade-long games? No one. They’re the kings. What advice would you have for us? You have the advantage of being able to see all these companies from the inside. We’re trying to get past a brand name that’s not meaningful, trying build a new culture and attract great talent. We’re a public company, so we have to report numbers every quarter, and we get beaten up for that sometimes. What would you say?

Above: Glu’s headquarters has a lot of open spaces.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: Looking at the hand you’ve been dealt, experimenting with that sounds like a good idea, as opposed to trying to totally rebuild things or copy someone else. San Francisco, like I said, is an outstanding base in ways that Helsinki isn’t. You can take advantage of that in some ways. There are very good people here. Getting them to work with you and do what you’re good at — this idea of shrinking down to fewer and better sounds like you’ve basically modernized the company for a situation where success is possible. The unique characteristics of mobile suggest that you have to go in that direction to set yourself apart and compete.

Earl: We’re very excited about what happened last year and what the future looks like. At the same time, we’re paranoid, every day, that we don’t rest. It’s such a great opportunity. Very rarely in your career do you get an opportunity like this.

GamesBeat: Doing too many things seems like it can be trouble. It seems like one thing Kabam didn’t need to do was try so hard in China.

Earl: Especially after it was clear that it wasn’t working. I’d say the bigger one was, they had a great business with Contest of Champions, and then they tried to do that with another property that didn’t work. It’s the same as having Kim and trying to do it with Katy Perry. Sometimes it’s just better to go deep. The magic of our business is that you’ve got an ability to entertain using the platform for many years. We’ve seen that with games at the top of the charts. As long as you don’t give up on it. Don’t get greedy and try to do too many of the same things. Just go deep on it. It’s a great business to be in.

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