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Streamline Media Group has named gaming veteran executive Sheloman Byrd as its new chief operating officer.
Byrd recently served as executive producer for external development at Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment on the hit title MultiVersus. The free-to-play game debuted earlier this year with over 20 million players in its first month.
Streamline Media Group has been around since 2001, but its spent much of its time as a work-for-hire game development company. Now it has expanded into making its own video games and it is developing for the nascent metaverse as well.
In an interview with GamesBeat, Byrd said he is excited about the opportunity to scale diverse and high-performing teams at Streamline, which has its headquarters in Las Vegas and has a variety of offices around the world. It has about 300 employees and it has 40 open positions.
“We’ll be expanding lots of capabilities in the future around more game development, more metaverse stuff, as well as just leading all development and production internally,” Byrd said. “There are a lot of fun announcements in the coming months.”
He added, “I’ll be overseeing all the development and production. Everything will come with that purview. And, frankly, we execute really well. Partners that we’re currently working with will be happier and happier as we continue growing together.”
Byrd spent about three years at Warner Bros. Discovery’s WBIE game division. Before that, Byrd spent nine years at Tencent driving business development and strategy for the U.S. and European PC and console market, working with key partners like Epic Games (Fortnite), Psyonix (Rocket League), and Ember Lab (Kena: Bridge of Spirits). He also worked on games like Maple Story as a game designer and associate producer. He was happy with MultiVersus as it came in on time and on budget.
“It was a long three-year process of blood, sweat and tears,” Byrd said. “But the very first time we saw people’s jaw drop when they played it was worth it. We have a lot of good memories creating the game. It was a lot of fun.”
Those jobs took him all over the world — something that helped him appreciate diversity.
“That kind of worldview is really, really I think important, just like our overall mission,” Byrd said.
His view is that if something is offensive to someone, then it is a good sign that it needs to be changed.
“Anyone who’s worked with me knows how much I love games, from production and design to marketing and business development. It’s a passion that is continued for nearly twenty years with no end in sight ” said Byrd. “It’s an exciting time overall, with over three billion global gamers and more playing every day. With this new role at Streamline, we’ll scale our success and expand our capabilities to drive the next wave of interactive experiences—ones that take diversity, high quality, and authenticity into account from the start.”
Since 2001, Streamline has serviced international developers, publishers, and brands, including Genvid, Balenciaga, Capcom, and Microsoft from production studios in Southeast Asia, Japan, and The Americas. As an active member of the games and tech global industry for over twenty years, Streamline has always
committed to driving meaningful change through diversity, inclusion, and accessibility for emerging markets and social and economic minorities.
“Streamline is transforming entertainment and global industries through video game technology and craft,” said Alexander Fernandez, CEO and cofounder of Streamline. “I’m excited to have Sheloman join us at this incredible moment of growth as we continue building talented teams’ representative of the world as it is.”
Byrd joins Fernandez and Bo Kjægaard-Jensen, CFO, in the top leadership of the company. As COO, Byrd will lead production and development, expand capabilities and capacity to include new segments beyond gaming and the growing demand for video game technology expertise.
Streamline Media Group develops original games and tech IP through its U.S., Malaysia, and Colombia production studios. It provides creative and technical services for international game developers, publishers, and brands, including Epic Games, Balenciaga, Capcom, and Microsoft.
As a member of the DSCI (Digital Supply Chain Institute), CGE (Center for Global Enterprise), Allyship Chair of WIGI (Women In Games International), and supporter of HITEC (Hispanics in Tech), Streamline is committed to driving meaningful change through diversity, inclusion, and accessibility within the games and tech industry.
Byrd said he admire Streamline for its diversity and how it makes decisions that enable it to have more diverse teams.
“This level of inclusivity is is the future of gaming,” he said. “It’s the only way I can see us as an industry being able to move past some of the unfortunate inherent issues that we have.”
Fernandez has operated the company for a long time, and Byrd has known him for about eight years.
“People are shocked to learn we are over 20 years old,” Byrd said. “I just look at the incredible amount of talent that we have internally and how they spread their ideals.”
Byrd believes Streamline is strong because it has such a diverse customer base around the world. And he has traveled the world in various business development roles over the years.
“I’m very confident in the slate of things coming,” he said.
Asked why he stayed in an industry that hasn’t had as much diversity as it should have over the years, Byrd said, “Because I f****** love games. There isn’t a much deeper answer than the surface level. But I’ll share this,” he said. “A friend of mine showed an IGN interview that Tony and I did about Lebron to a nine-year-old kid. And the kid said, ‘I didn’t know we can make games.’”
He added, “As a nine-year-old kid, you don’t see see your potential. It’s no different than Black Panther. Until you actually see what things could be, you don’t imagine it. We can get better representation in games. And you don’t have to sacrifice a single thing about gameplay or design to get there.”
Byrd said he enjoyed bringing more diversity to games such as MultiVersus. Part of the task was reaching into the intellectual property library of Warner Bros. and finding the right characters. Another part of that was making sure the character creator could be used by players to create custom characters. He noted how Black characters often have only a few hair styles: braids, corn rows, or afros, he noted.
“You can have an accurate representation of what you look like what your family looks like, and so on,” Byrd said.
But after MultiVersus was done, Byrd said he stepped back to think about what he wanted to accomplish. And the opportunity at Streamline seemed too good to pass up.