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Building the Electronic Arts of Casual Gaming: PlayFirst CEO John Welch (Part 9)

Posted on Tuesday, Aug 7th 2007

SM: Describe some of your team building experiences. Is your management team complete now?

JW: The first hire was the toughest. We raised $5 million on a PowerPoint deck and the promise that we knew the industry better than anyone. But then weeks went by and we couldn’t seem to find the right people to come on board. I recall our investors getting a little curious. But things started falling into place, my network started to deliver.

As a software startup, PlayFirst’s most critical hire was that senior web software architect. As a game publisher, our most critical hire was the chief creative person to run the portfolio and hire game producers. In both cases, a friend of a friend turned out to be the perfect fit. These two people have now been with the company for three years. The rest of the management team is also composed of former colleagues, or in once case a friend of a former colleague.

PlayFirst’s management team has been ‘complete’ for almost two years, but the business and the company are growing. I wouldn’t be surprised if we add another person or two to the executive team at some point.

SM: What is your growth strategy?

JW: Deliver more great games that offer deeper and deeper forms of consumer engagement and broader forms of monetization.

SM: What are your thoughts about exit?

JW: PlayFirst has triple-digit revenue growth, highly leveraged production and distribution models, and very high gross margins. We believe we have a runner on our hands. So, for now, we’re focused on making the company big and profitable.

SM: Alright, let me give my thoughts on Exit, then. Electronic Arts’ growth is slowing. They have had a lot of difficulty recently. That’s a possible exit path. On the other hand, some of the major Internet Portals have gaming as an initiative. Yahoo, particularly, has had a strong content bias, and could well be an exit as well. Of course, you need to deliver some more on the revenue and the business model to get a really strong valuation.

(to be continued)

[Part 1]
[Part 2]
[Part 3]
[Part 4]
[Part 5]
[Part 6]
[Part 7]
[Part 8]

This segment is part 9 in the series : Building the Electronic Arts of Casual Gaming: PlayFirst CEO John Welch
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