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Mobile game publisher Scopely added two new board members — initial public providing adviser Marcie Vu and former Activision Blizzard president Coddy Johnson. You could say this is a sign that Scopely is preparing for going public, even though the business itself is not particularly saying that but.
Vu is a former executive at Qatalyst and Morgan Stanley, exactly where she was an adviser on several IPOs for organizations such as Alibaba.com, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Zynga. Johnson was the No. 2 executive at Activision Blizzard, which has $8 billion in revenues and a industry worth of $74 billion. Johnson has a lot of practical experience top one of the biggest gaming organizations in the world, and Scopely mentioned it is sending an critical signal to the business as it cements its position as a top private gaming business gearing up for this next stage of development.
Walter Driver, the co-CEO of Scopely in Los Angeles, mentioned in an interview that he was excited to bring aboard the new board members.
“We’re super-excited to have Coddy and Marcie joining and helping us navigate the next stage of growth at Scopely,” Driver mentioned. “It’s been an exciting last few years, with some pretty explosive growth in the rearview mirror. Having trusted advisers to rely on as we navigate the next set of challenges is going to be a huge advantage.”
Driver mentioned he had heard wonderful points about Johnson from several mutual close friends and contacts in the business for a extended time.
“His leadership at Activision correlated with really strong business performance, and he also navigated the changing dynamics in the industry, like the platform convergence,” Driver mentioned. “As we think about building more player-centric views of our player experiences versus platform-centric views, I think that experience is really valuable. He has operated at a tremendous scale. Very few people have had that kind of vantage point of leading such a large organization both in terms of people and revenue.”
Johnson initially joined Activision in 2008 as chief of employees to CEO Bobby Kotick. He served as the chief operating officer (COO) of studios and then chief economic officer and head of operations, just before leaving the business to serve as the COO of edtech leader AltSchool. In 2017, he returned to Activision Blizzard as president and COO exactly where he helped the business transition into totally free-to-play and mobile just before retiring in March 2020.
“There’s a lot of things we’re excited to learn from Coddy and to have his voice be part of the strategic dialogue around the future of the company,” Driver mentioned.
Johnson helped set up the tactic to build Call of Duty: Mobile and Call of Duty: Warzone as totally free-to-play onramps to Call of Duty premium games.
“I think the insight for Call of Duty is not dissimilar from where Walter is taking Scopely, which is really listening to players and what they want,” Johnson mentioned. “And in this case, for the franchise, they really wanted to have an ongoing experience that they could carry with them through the years, not one that disappeared each fall. And that’s where the Warzone came from. I feel like the good news for Scopely is they’re already doing that. They’re already really providing these long-lived games as service franchises in ways that people care about for many years. And so I think that once you’re there, a bunch of doors open up.”
He mentioned it could be simpler to make the transition to other platforms (possibly Computer or console) simpler as a mobile-initially business, rather than the other way about.
“I just think there’s such opportunity ahead for this team,” Johnson mentioned.
“I’ve lon- admired the Scopely team and their trajectory,” Johnson mentioned in an interview with GamesBeat. “It was in our backyard, and I got to see them up close. And they were known for being a good team with good products, driving games with highly engaged communities, and in particular, on mobile, which is a transition that Activision Blizzard has been in.”
What caught his eye was Scopely’s acquisition of Fox Next Games, exactly where Johnson mentioned Scopely empowered the group, trusted them to do their work, and then accelerated their development with Scopely’s advertising, analytics, and player insights.
“There’s a lot of ways to screw those things up,” Johnson mentioned. “I saw a management team with a lot of confidence and innate understanding of what it takes to enable great games and great game makers. And so I was super impressed by that and connected with Walter shortly after that. And I’ve been super impressed by Walter and his team. They’re in a really fantastic position to take advantage of a lot of the growth drivers in the industry.”
What Vu brings
Vu has 20 years of investment banking practical experience and she is at present on the board of ThredUp, a publicly traded business that resells women’s and kids’ apparel. She has been an adviser on hundreds of transactions worth more than $one hundred billion.
In a statement, Vu mentioned, “Scopely has all the right ingredients for high growth, long-term success: an incredibly talented, strategic, and ambitious team, deep relationships with players, a technology-driven platform approach, and strong business fundamentals. The company is not only a leader in games and technology, but it is building a new vision of play for consumers around the world.”
Driver mentioned Vu has a really distinguished profession and economic services practical experience at Morgan Stanley, exactly where she led the customer practice, and at Qatalyst, exactly where she led the customer technologies group.
“To be able to add somebody like Marcie that has a unique perspective on some of the leading companies, capital markets experience, and M&A strategic advisory work, it’s just really exciting,” Driver mentioned.
The industry outlook
Driver mentioned he noted how a great deal activity the game acquisitions space has seen with more than $49 billion worth of offers in the initially 5 months of the year — a record quantity.
“I think that’s great for everybody who’s working in gaming and excited about the future of gaming, and we’re paying close attention to what’s happening in the public markets,” Driver mentioned. “I am glad to see that investors are becoming more enthusiastic and sophisticated about the companies in this space.”
Driver noted that Asia represents half the international gaming industry and there hasn’t been a lot of organizations in the West that have been productive in Asia.
“We’re in the early days of building out the infrastructure to have a more sophisticated presence in those markets,” Driver mentioned. “We’ve opened offices in Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, and Singapore in the last couple of years, and we are hiring people in all these markets to explore how we take our games to players in those markets, as well as how we can more effectively partner, invest in, acquire.”
Driver added, “The rise of mobile has accelerated the globalization of gaming because now there are 2.5 billion people that have a gaming device with them all the time. I think being mobile-first definitely enables you to reach players in those markets. We just need to continue investing in our ability to culturalize those experiences and make them resonate as deeply as possible for players in different cultures and in different geographies.”